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.
Whatever the route, reds were flocking to the Spanish capital in numbers many reckoned hadn't been matched since the semi-final against Milan in 2005. It's not hard to see why. As Jose Mourinho put it, it was the tie the whole world was waiting for. Laden with sub-plot, it pitched together the world's most glamorous clubs, and its two best managers.
"It needs to happen in my lifetime. We have wanted and deserved it for too long." Emma, a student studying in Barcelona, is a Catalan Independiste. She belongs to the 50% of the population of Spain's north-eastern region who would like to see Catalonia split from the Spanish state to form an autonomous country. And her cause is steadily gaining tangible political progress.
The time has come to take back the cobbles, the castles, the cathedrals, the architecture and art, in fact anything that's even had a brush with a pair of Rohan convertible chinos in the past decade is now fair game. Because if there's one thing tourists like even less than trousers that don't turn into shorts, it's winter.
Anyway, it's a Tuesday afternoon, and I am sitting just outside Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain at 3:32pm according to my iPad. Just had a great, albeit interesting roast duck cannelloni and about to have a third glass of Estrella cerveza. This is fairly a normal day in Spain and although likely more people if it were a Sunday, it is warm and sunny. I like this.