Not to deny Barcelona’s many cosmopolitan charms (or pounce on its recent political turmoil), but I’ve always found Madrid to be the more alluring Spanish city. With its beaches, its sinuous Gaudí buildings, its cafés tucked away in the Gothic Quarter’s cobblestoned labyrinth, Barcelona seems too easy to fawn over—just note the roaming packs of visitors on Las Ramblas. On the other hand, Madrid, while hardly immune to tourism, somehow feels populated less by foreigners and more by Madrileños. These lucky souls live their everyday lives in a city filled monumental architecture, casually superb restaurants and a veritable trove of art. My partner and I recently spent a week moving among them.
At Skylark, even our interns travel well. Our own Alex Swanson, who while not toiling in our New York City HQ is studying for a degree in classics and history at Columbia University, recently returned from an enchanting trip to Athens, the homeland of democracy. He found a city brimming with both history and a colorful contemporary spice, plus a Mediterranean brand of luxury that’s one of Europe’s best steals. Here are his favorite ruins and reminiscences.
Deserted white beaches, charming Mediterranean architecture, cuisine and wine to rival Italy’s—but with fewer crowds and lower prices. Croatia’s appeals are many, and recently we’re seeing a lot of interest from our clients. (It might also have to do with some little show called Game of Thrones that’s filmed there).
But with its attractions spread along a rugged coastline and countless islands, it can be a tricky vacation to plan. We usually recommend exploring the country in a luxury chartered gulet—a traditional wooden sailing yacht—but those need to be reserved well in advance and can be pricey. Here’s an alternative that takes in the highlights and also gets you off the beaten path.