Well where do I start? My friend and I were visiting Madrid, and even in the planning stages of our trip, when we first e-mailed Almu, we could instantly tell that she was a great find. Almu is organised, extremely well informed and a has a wonderful personality, all of which added up to two diverse but extremely enjoyable experiences. I would say that her tours were one of the main highlights of our trip to Madrid. If you love art and food, then she is the guide for you!
Already being great fans of Goya's work, we were absolutely amazed to find that Almu could get us access to see some of his original plates which his four sets of famous prints were taken from, at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes. The room was actually closed at the time, as they were setting up for a new exhibition in the space, but with Almu's contacts and magician-like abilities, she was able to get the room unlocked for us, and she gave us a private viewing. It was incredible and something we thought we would never see. The rest of the museum is well worth a look too, and you will find more attendants than visitors, as it doesn't seem to be very well known. This is such a shame as it has a wonderful collection, but in terms of being a visitor, it was great. Then it was on to the Prado for more of Goya's work (he was an amazingly prolific artist). The Prado has a staggering amount of Goya's work, from large scale cartoons for tapestries, through royal portraits and his "dark" paintings to his famous, emotive historical depictions to smaller, more personal paintings. Almu's art historical knowledge is vast, and it made a huge difference to our experience to have her knowledge and resources while viewing his work.
If you love Goya's work, and want a real learning experience, then Almu is the guide for you.
Then the following evening, it was on to a second love, food. Almu took me on a tapas tour of Madrid, and we had a ball. We visited many different places, quite a few of them being more than 100 years old, and tasted a great range of food including potato croquettes, fried cod, delicious sweet treats, and wonderful garlicky prawns, all washed down with either a small glass of beer or wine. We also visited a specialty sherry bar, which had a fantastic atmosphere and was lined with copious amounts of dusty bottles of sherry and wooden barrels and was very popular. We had the most divine glass of dry sherry which we quickly polished off with manchego cheese and fat, green olives - that was probably the highlight of the night for me. Almu ended the tour with a trip to her secret find - a new(ish) restaurant that specialised in locally grown food and locally produced wine where we gobbled tomatoes as huge as side plates and chocolate mousse that would be a diabetic's nightmare! Almu is great company, very funny and has a wealth of information about Madrid and Spanish history in general, and is the perfect host. She is a real find.
Auckland, New Zealand
It made a huge difference to our experience of Goya's work