Hola Singapore 🙂
I am finally back to Singapore after about a 10 days study trip away to Spain during the past week. During these periods, I have only traveled to Madrid and Barcelona and it has been a very enriching experience knowing much more about the history of the cities. I also realized that between 7 to 10 days is a good break to take as I was feeling somewhat missing my family back in Singapore.
Anyway, the trip all started with somewhat a scare with the Ebola news coming out of Madrid a few days before I fly. I was almost not going to make the trip due to family concerns but after taking calculated risks and some advices, I decided to go ahead. As it turns out, the concerns were unwarranted as the affected patient (latest news – she was cleared negative for the virus) was contained in a particular area and the cities were as normal as it could have been in other days.
Anyway, this is not a post about budgeting for trips or anything. I just wanted to share some of the highlights and learnings takeaway I get from this trip. This post will be long, but I wanted to capture the highlights of the trips mostly.
1.) IE Business School
I went there for a one module exchange trip, so the majority of the weekdays were spent in school attending lectures, doing projects and networking.
The course was mostly about luxury entrepreneurship, so we learnt about business cases relating to Oscar de la Renta (who by the way has just passed away today), a legendary in the luxury fashion industry. We also learnt how to start an entrepreneurship, seeking seeds funding and exit opportunities.
IE MBA is one of the top 5 European business school in the world, so it is a privilege to be able to go, experience the teaching and meet some of the students there.
2.) Plaza de Mayor / Mercado San Miguel / Restaurant Botin
Plaza de Mayor was built during King Philip III (who is at the center of the statue) reign and is a central plaza of Madrid, Spain. They are rectangular in shape and has a total of 9 entranceways.
This is a must go place if you are in Madrid as they are at the center of attractions for tourists and has a lot of great restaurants (including one of the oldest restaurants in the world).
Mercado San Miguel – this place is just right nearby Plaza de Mayor and the huge market sells all kinds of Spanish local cuisines including tapas, sangrias and seafoods.
Some of the seafoods including oysters, sea urchin and clams I’ve eaten there are the best I had so far in my life. They are extremely fresh and juicy, and they are not extremely pricey if you compare it in Singapore. A must eat!!!
We also went to Restaurant Botin nearby, which was deemed the oldest restaurant in the world by the Guinness World of Record. The place was packed so we had to make reservations a week before. Being commercialized these days, the food was kinda pricey at about Eur 40 per person but there’s many must try food there such as the suckling pig and lamb.
3.) Casapatas Flamengo Show
Flamengo dancing is one of the culture of Madrid and some of the dances performance was interesting and eye opening. I just thought the venue was a little packed with people so it makes me a little uncomfortable watching the show. But all in all, this performance was one of the recommended by tripadvisor.
4.) Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid
I’ve never thought I was going to miss this being a soccer fan and what can be better than visiting one of most decorated clubs in football at the Santiago Bernabeu.
You get to visit almost everything at the stadium from the field to the dressing room to the press conference room, etc. You are also able to see the actual Ballon D’ Or which C.Ronaldo won recently and the La Decima 2014 Champions League trophy displayed there as well.
A must visit for football fan!!!
5.) Telefonica – Company Visit
We went to a company visit at one of the leading telco blue chip company in Spain, Telefonica.
I used to own this stock a couple of years ago when the company is yielding around 8 – 10% yield during the Euro crisis in 2011. I have not looked back since how is the company doing now. Nevertheless, the headquarter is beautiful it feels like you are living at some robotic island out there.
1.) Train to Barcelona
We booked an overnight train trip from Madrid to Barcelona and this would be one of the more memorable experience I’ve never had previously. The cabin was super small (like a bomb shelter room) and you had to squeeze 6 people inside one bunk. Nevertheless, it is one of the memorable experience I’ve had in this trip.
2.) Nou Camp, Barcelona
This time, we go one better. We attended a football match at Nou Camp with more than 100,000 capacity. The atmosphere was electrifying as fans were singing and chanting throughout the match. Imagine if this were an El Classico match, it would have been doubled or tripled.
It’s a great experience having to see the likes of Messi, Neymar, Xavi and Iniesta played on the field. It almost feels like I am playing FIFA right there!!!
Oh, and did you know that the beer there was 0% alcohol!!!??? 😀
3.) Sagrada Familia Cathedral
You would not be doing yourself justice if you don’t visit the Sagrada Familia if you visit Barcelona.
This place is soooo beautiful that you would just wow yourself throughout the entire journey.
Sagrada Familia is one of the architecture cathedral built by the famous Antonio Gaudi which was unfinished basilica due to various reasons. The sites have plenty of history so I would advise anyone to go there. One of my bucket list to see, and all the more so if you are a Roman Catholic.
4.) Port Olimpica
Port Olimpica is one of the night hangout places by the beach for tourists in Barcelona. It is very beautiful and windy, almost similar like the One Marina Keppel Bay we had in Singapore.
Overall, this was a good trip. I’ve never been to Europe so seeing them the first time round is always a great experience. I don’t travel much either, so all the more I took this trip as part of my unusual luxury lifestyle which makes it even more special than ever.
I hope to come back one day and hopefully this time round I could bring my wife and son along, as I’ve missed them quite badly during these periods 🙂