Have you ever wondered what are Spanish leaders doing to have more fun than their global colleagues?
written by Wayne Brown
Are you among the fortunate…
If you are among those fortunate enough to have spent time in Spain, you are likely to align with our heading instantly.
The country is so rich in history, culture, landmarks, and scenery. Then there’s the spoken language – magnificent! While the locals’ speaking speed makes it an impossibility for someone with as little linguistic ability as myself to comprehend, merely listening to the words flow from the lips is no less beautiful.
And reports that we are approaching 500 million people globally speaking this wonderful language today is an unexpected but pleasant surprise.
During this short Spanish tour, we will visit two of the main cities.
Madrid and Barcelona
Spain has been blessed…
However, as you may note from the above map, Spain is blessed with many beautiful cities, each with its unique character and history. Valencia on the eastern coast, Sevilla to the south, and Santiago to the northwest, to name but a handful.
World leader in elevators/person & people/apartment …
A recent survey released showed that Spain tops the list of countries with the greatest number of elevators per 1000 persons coming in @ a whopping 19.8. The next closest being Italy with 14.7 units / 1000 persons.
Coupled with 65% of the Spanish population living in apartments, and it starts to make sense. The country has two buildings (both in Madrid), making the top 20 in Europe’s tallest building list.
Having attended a Sales development workshop in Madrid, I had the opportunity to explore the countryside. As a result, I’m happy to have this chance to stray from the norm and play the tour guide for both Madrid and Barcelona.
The Coaches favourite Madrid landmarks …
The cities here in Spain are so enjoyable that I feel compelled to share something from a visitor’s perspective. Offering a very brief guide should you be planning a holiday. If you want the industry info, jump ahead in each city to the heading “… attractions for elevator-escalator diehards.”
I’m an avid enjoyer of the whole Starbucks experience, and for this reason, you could wonder if I may not enjoy Madrid as much as other cities. On the contrary, my friends, it’s all in the approach and mindset.
Strolling through the narrow historic streets lends itself to the desire to explore the surroundings. The fact that there isn’t a Starbucks on every second corner adds to the thrill of the hunt, especially after concluding the search with a positive outcome.
There are Starbucks in Madrid; they have arrived late to the party and not yet as plentiful as many other cosmopolitan cities globally.
During a recent trip…
… and an early morning hunt around the streets between my hotel and Plaza Major, my efforts found this quaint little Starbucks sitting on one outer corner of the Plaza.
In this particular café, seating is scarce; the staff friendly, food and coffee acceptable. The relief is visible on almost all patrons’ faces as they cross over the small wooden entrance threshold; PRICELESS!
I can imagine my expression as I waited patiently for the 7 am opening bell. The wait was worthwhile as I was greeted with a warm, inviting smile and friendly “hola” by the barrister.
An abundance of Madrid landmarks ….
Madrid is the place to be, and the locals spoilt for choice with abundant sightseeing and historical landmarks.
The entire perimeter of Plaza Major offers a range of eating pleasures. Surrounding areas (perhaps sitting largely within the so-called Golden Triangle) are also over-supplied with must-visit locations.
Mercado de San Miguel:
Immediately outside on one corner of the Plaza is the first on this list. The Mercado de San Miguel, a compact glass building crammed full of vendors offering the freshest and finest food I’ve found anywhere.
Fruit, vegetables, cheese, seafood, meats of every description, drinks; it’s a ‘foodies’ treasure trove of delights. Based on the number of people eagerly clambering over each other to sample the spoils or place their orders any night of the week, it’s clear that the place has a great reputation and is extremely well supported.
Puerta del Sol:
A short 10 min stroll downhill from the Plaza is the intersection of Puerta del Sol, one of the main meeting and shopping areas in Madrid. The bear and the cherry tree is a landmark within this location.
You are close by a metro stop, department stores, clothing, and more food merchants offering great Jamon (ham). Continue walking another 5 mins past del Sol, and you reach yet another plaza La Gran Via, complete with Starbucks, cinemas, and great book stores.
Manzanares River Parklands and Retiro Park:
The completion of this hugely political river and freeway revamp has transformed the area into a very enjoyable family outing close to the city’s heart. Offering ample rest points and relaxing nature strips for the locals and visitors to escape the city confines without traveling any distance.
However, this river location is one of the treasures, which is a must-visit for everyone enjoying a park stroll in Retiro Park.
Parque del Buen Retiro (“Park of the Pleasant Retreat”)
This inner-city heavenly expanse of green, heavily treed, picturesque lake amidst well-maintained pathways is a destination for every visit I make.
Palaces & museums:
If history and art are your things, then you’re in luck with very accessible grand palaces and churches, together with great art and artifacts on display in a variety of museums.
The enormous Royal Palace (or any of the other palace properties within an 80-kilometer radius of Madrid) is worth the effort to explore.
Beside the palace is Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena, a spectacular example of architecture and the Catholic faith’s money.
With-in Europe, one of my favorite museums is the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, showing casing predominantly Spanish art and sculptures, with famous works from Picasso and Dali on display.
Museo de la Catedral de la Almudena
A stroll across the road from the hotel where I normally reside.
Like many of the megacities nowadays, the nightlife is where it all happens. In Madrid’s case, it starts and finishes a little later than most, however. Still, you will find an enormous variety of nightclubs, bars, restaurants – some offering great food and drink, while others include the famous Flamingo dancers.
Find yourself a seat close to the dance floor and feel the energy and heat of the dancers.
Real & Athletica:
If you follow this little round ball game, this is also a great city, hosting two of the most powerful football clubs in Spain and Europe – Real Madrid and Atletico. There’s little wonder that there is great rivalry between the two sides.
Elite versus Working Class… And like other famous rivalries such as Manchester United and Manchester City in England and replicated in multiple other countries of Europe, the local city derby’s played out in Madrid each year brings the city to a stand-still.
Food glorious food:
The perfect trio – a plate of finely sliced Jamon to start proceedings, seafood paella for the main, and finished off with chocolate con churros.
Add a glass or two of your favorite vino, plus a good friend to share the experience, and life doesn’t get much better.
You’ll find this “luxury on the palette”, pretty much everywhere you care to look across this amazing city.
Madrid attractions for elevator-escalator diehards …
Approximate number of units (total for Madrid): 180,000 units
There are many important buildings but well known are the 4 towers resort composed by:
- Torre de Cristal @ 249 m
- @ 248 m Torre Cepsa
- Torre PwC @ 236 m
- @ 230 m Torre Espacio
At 249m Torre de Cristal is the tallest building and has the fastest elevators at 8m/s in the city. In the same avenue but some meters away Torre Picasso @ 156 m.
Main infrastructures projects at present:
- Madrid Nuevo Norte 10.500 new apartments in residential buildings and 3 new towers of 250m, 230 and 190m.
- Los Berrocales: In the east of the city will have 22.00 new apartments for resisential use.
- La Quinta Torre. New and in the 4 towers area, with height of 182 m.
- Canalejas Project Construcution of a luxury hotel in an protected building in the city centre.
The Coaches favourite Barcelona landmarks …
Like many in our industry, I have a genuine interest in buildings of all shapes and sizes. From initial design through to the finishing touches of construction. And Barcelona offers its fair share of interesting buildings to support this passion.
None more so than those designed by the late and inspirational architect Antoni Gaudi. Scattered around the city are many of his masterpieces. His designs are so unique and internationally renowned that tours will guide you through each of these landmarks.
There are many notes, but it’s not my purpose to become the tour guide here. For that, you will need to include Barcelona on your bucket list of places to visit.
Instead, I’ll showcase below just three which are remarkable, each for their specific reasons.
La Sagrada Familia
- This is the most famous of Gaudí’s works. This church has been in construction since 1892, and completion it’s not expected until 2030. It featured heavily in Dan Brown’s latest book, Origin.
- La Pedrera is another of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in architecture history. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.
And using the opening exerpt from the linked Barcelona.com website – “A terrace with undulating mosaic benches offering an unforgettable view of Barcelona, the famous salamander, two modernist pavilions, an extraordinary garden.
The Park Güell is one of the most mythical places in Barcelona. The masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudí is one of the city’s tourist attractions, but only part of the 17-hectare park is freely accessible.”
Other parks & city locations:
If you can drag yourself away from relaxing in the sun on a stretch of sandy coastline, then Barcelona also offers a huge central park – Park de la Ciutadella.
280,000 m 2 of green-lands. A breezy but relaxing alternative to the beach. Boasting musicians, picnic spots, areas to play sport, or take a relaxing stroll.
Additionally, there are numerous locations in and around the city for every visitor, starting with Las Rambo Boulevard. The city’s main pedestrian street with markets, cafes, restaurants, street artists, and a plentiful tourist supply.
The Magic Fountain show is another very popular attraction for its choreographed light and music display. If you’re into this type of thing, then be sure to check for show dates and times.
Beach and the W hotel
Barcelona sits on the east coast of Spain and shares its beach line with the Baltic Sea. The coast north of Barcelona is called ‘El Maresme’ and offers some of the best beach locations.
However, the good news is that you don’t need to travel away from the city to enjoy the sand and sea breeze for those not adventurous. Positioned strategically on the Barcelona Boardwalk is the SPG’s 5 star W hotel.
This iconic hotel stands proudly but alone like a beacon to the ocean and those lucky enough to be a guest.
The boardwalk itself is a hive of activity offering beach sports, fitness groups, an ample supply of restaurants, marina ad fantastic blend of coastal scenery, tree lined pedestrian walking strips all mixing together to deliver that relaxing ambience for locals and visitors alike.
The most famous museum in Barcelona is housing and displaying the 4000+ pieces of work produced by the artist. The pieces illustrate his affection and relationship with the city where he lived.
Additional to the artist’s work is the magnificent museum building itself – …….
The Picasso Museum occupies five palaces (large townhouses) and first opened back in 1963. These five buildings are good examples of the medieval or gothic style in former centuries. The five buildings combine to create a central courtyard that also accesses the museum.
Catalonian love of food
Fresh seafood galore (mariscos) adds to those delicacies offered in Madrid. The Catalonians are very serious about their food, and the result is quite spectacular, consisting of a quite healthy cuisine.
Whilst paella is still a must have in Barcelona, there is a huge variety of seafood, red and white meats, alternate cuisines such as Italian Cannelloni, meatballs, pizzas, flans and gelatos, essentially something on offer to suit every palate.
As is traditional for the Spanish in general, lunch and dinner are eaten late by western standards, around 2 pm for lunch and dinner seldom before 8 pm and most common starting around 9 pm. One secret is to grab a few tapas between lunch and dinner for us visitors, which is very common practice for the locals at one or more of many bars scattered across the city.
Numerous fresh food markets to be found – one of the more popular being La Boqueria….
And great news for fellow Starbucks and coffee lovers in general, there must be something in the water or the air, but the flavors are particularly enjoyable.
FC Barcelona & Camp Nou stadium
Known as Barcelona, it has become one of the most famous football clubs globally and rounds out this Spanish powerhouse trio. With its roots dating back to 1899, the club has become synonymous with Catalan culture and pride. It is presently owned and operated by its supporters, and it is a hugely successful and wealthy club with an incredibly large following matched by a very large annual revenue.
Interesting stats – In 2018, Barcelona’s first team average annual salary exceeded £10m.
The Camp Nou stadium, which opened in 1957, seats close to 100,000 has been home to many European and local Spanish championship matches in recent decades. It was one of the main stadiums hosting the most games in the 1982 World Cup. A city landmark attraction is drawing visitors from worldwide to its grounds and museum.
Barcelona attractions for elevator-escalator diehards …
Barcelona has recently announced that it is working towards becoming one of Europe’s SMART cities.
1. Hotel de las Artes 154m, 46 floors / 2. Torre Mapfre 154m, 43 floors
In fact only 6 buildings with a height >100m have been constructed in Barcelona during the past 50 years.
Barcelona city has around of 60,000 units supporting a demography of 1.6 million people.
Barcelona province with around 140,000 units and a population of 5.6 million whilst the greater Catalonia region has approx. 180,000 units with 7.5 million inhabitants.
Barcelona infrastructure projects – such as metro and airport are worth noting as are the 150 outdoor elevator and escalators units which support many of the tourist locations around the city.
Bonus Town – Toledo landmarks:
Situated around 1 hour by train south of Madrid is the city of Toledo. A UNESCO world heritage city which was the capital during 545-725 AD. The town’s culture is infectious and famous for its countless displays of army battle armor and bladed weapons, made famous during the ….. wars.
On May 25, 1085, Alfonso VI of Castile kicked the Moors out of Toledo, after which the city became one of the great centers of Christian culture. Hence the nickname “Holy Toledo.” It has since evolved into an exhibiting surprise, probably due to the original shock that a Moor-encrusted place could become Holy.
At every turn, the city offers a rich tapestry of historic construction – buildings, bridges, churches, cathedrals, roadways.
Toledo attraction for elevator-escalator diehards:
Escaleras Mecanicas Del Paseo de Recaredo
Toledo’s best-known industry equipment is the long escalator that takes visitors from the bottom to the top of a steep hill and saves those weary legs.
And to close ….
So that’s about a wrap on this article. Hope you enjoyed reading it?
My role is as the Coach and host of the site. You’ll find that we have articles written by four different groups related to our elevator-escalator tribe on this blog site. Each sharing details with our executives, from their personal experience, insights, and learnings.
1: Our Legends (those that have served 30 years or more in the industry),
2: Our Innovators (often lead by our younger generation
– but not always and are those helping shape the future direction of our tribe),
3: Our Cheque Writers (the clients that provide perspective to our thinking by guiding our direction).
4: Myself as your coach – the “traveling Wilbury” of the tribe, sharing stories from various countries I visit.
This same clustering of groups will provide interviews which we host under the podcast title of couchTALK. And to round out the trilogy is our YouTube channel called Mentors Rant.
Until then, stay safe and keep learning!