Tourism Conference in Madrid - featuredLast week I was invited to Madrid by the huge national Spanish Charity, Once. They are funded from the sales of lottery tickets, and run many projects for disabled people. Their staff and board of trustees are heavily represented by disabled people which I applaud.
London's skyline has been transformed in the last twenty years or so, and although some of the buildings may not be to everyone's taste, it's a city which has something for everyone. From up in the air it looks every inch a global city for the 21st century, a place where 300 different languages are spoken and over 8.5 million people live and work.
We've all heard of those grand Chinese banquets with innumerable courses including delicacies like sea slugs and bird's nests, but at Madrid Fusion this year I caught a glimpse of the future. Goods from China dominate our shops but my suspicion is that Chinese food is going to take over our restaurant menus - and I don't mean chop suey and egg fried rice.
It's not hard to see why Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British holidaymakers. There are many beautiful places in Spain where you'll find plenty of sunshine, good food, good wine, and beautiful beaches, but beyond these destinations we know and love, there are some Spanish gems that have been blissfully unaffected by mass tourism.
Spanish cuisine is famously meaty and so it is rare to find a place that focuses so intently on the growing, preparation and flavour of their produce. Everything they serve, they grow and the freshness is palpable. In a wholly good way you can taste the soil, it is almost akin to the concept of terroir in wine.
Remembering the past has been a fraught process in Spain, a fact perhaps reflected in the attitude of Madrid's tourist authorities who would rather you didn't explore it either. Many believe that old wounds should not be reopened, that Spain should look forwards not back. But lack of accountability means that the wounds - collective and individual - still haven't healed properly.
Eating and drinking aside, there is an array of culture to soak up in Madrid. On arrival I had thought differently. I couldn't list anything I particularly wanted to see or do, with no famous landmarks pitching it as a competitor to Paris. But I was wrong and soon discovered the history that lay deep in old Madrid.