My first real travel abroad as an adult was in 1990 when I came to Spain at the urging of my lifelong friend, Laurie Clauson, who during high school was an exchange student with a wonderful family from the small northern Spain seaside village, of Luanco, in Asturias Spain. I was 29 years old, had a two year old daughter, and had just gone through a separation and divorce of my first marriage and was searching for my soul and a reconnection of who Mark Candelaria was and is. I found Mark Candelaria’s soul here in Spain.
One of our visits on that trip was to Madrid and so it is especially powerful and reflective to return here some 28 years later and spend time here and look back at my life and all that has happened. From getting my license as an architect in 1992, to remarrying in 1999, to then starting my own firm that same year, the birth of Bella in 2002 and then Sophia in 2005 and then separating from my second wife in 2010 and divorcing again in 2012 but then marrying the true angel of my life, Isabel, in 2013, - let’s say life has had its ups and downs.
Here I am now in Madrid in 2018 with my wife, Isabel – who also came here her first time when she was 29 – and my two daughters, on our 16thCandelaria Design Tour and our second Tour in Spain. Funny how the journey of life can take you on a ride. Mine has been tremendous. So as I walk the streets of Madrid on this trip it is not very difficult to pause and think back on all that has happened over the course of the last 28 years – really the second half of my life since that first trip here when I was 29 years old.
Travel will do that to you – especially return trips to places you have not been in years. Now, if I break the 28/29 years into thirds I wonder what the next 29 years will bring. I will be 87 years old…. Isabel will be 76, my daughters will be 59, 45 and 42. Maybe they will wheel me through Madrid and the Mercado de San Miguel for paella and a sidra?
I cannot thank my lifelong friend, Laurie Clauson, for the thirst for travel, cooking and life in general she gave me some 28 years ago. It lives on my friend and now I am sharing that with my girls and friends and all those who have been on my 16 tours. Who knows what life holds – all you can do is try to live each day to its fullest which I always try to do. We have five days in Madrid and we will most definitely make the most of it!
Madrid is a total contrast to our first stop San Sebastián. San Sebastián is a beautiful sea side town with amazing basque cuisine and architecture. Madrid, with its 6.5 million people, is the third largest city in Europe and is a combination of New York and Washington rolled into one but of course with its Spanish culture and flair.
This trip we are staying at the Palace Hotel which is spectacular. Elegant and sophisticated its guests have included the likes of Picasso, Einstein, and Hemingway – not bad company. We arrived at the hotel at about midnight and still had time for a fabulous dinner consisting of short ribs and a perfect Manhattan. So let’s see what adventures await us in Madrid!