Client MasterCard España & Portugal
Sector Means of Payment · Tourism
Almost a decade after its acclaimed campaign entitled Priceless, MasterCard decided to face up to the challenge of materialising in real experiences the emotion behind the message ‘There are things that money can’t buy.’ So in 2011 it set up the global programme entitled Priceless Cities that offered cardholders new ways of experiencing and getting to know their cities. In 2012 Idonika was chosen by MasterCard to add Madrid to the list of other major capitals like London, Moscow, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sidney or Toronto.
In a short time, and thanks in part to our wide experience in the fabric of cultural industries oriented to leisure, we have conceived and started up Priceless Madrid, an integral plan of experiences designed to offer different approaches to the city. During its first year, as a result of the enthusiastic welcome by businesses and institutions, Priceless Madrid became was valued the highest by users of Priceless Cities.
The Iron Horse biking event was the meeting point for those of us who have always loved road journeys and enjoy watching road movies, our favourite film genre. At the event we were able to see classic motorbikes such as Harley-Davidsons and Indians, but only a few of us had a chance to climb on one and go for a drive: for two hours we ‘rode’ our iron thoroughbreds, with the incomparable landscape of the mountain range of Madrid in the distance. Upon our return, we were able to share our feelings in a lively discussion with our fellow travellers.
We attended an unprecedented theatrical event: the historical palazzo of the Fundación Lázaro Galdiano opened its doors and its exhibition galleries to become the stage par excellence of the four plays that Microteatro por dinero had prepared for such a special host. The unexpected corners of the cultural sanctuaries that all museums are created the most perfect of settings for a true marathon of drama. The plays directed by Lola Baldrich, Nancho Novo, Secún de la Rosa and José Luis Sixto awaited showing. The gaze of other spectators we would never have thought of, like El Bosco, Goya or Murillo, mingled with ours.
Mayumana, the dance and percussion group founded in 1996, was on tour in the city to present its show Racconto. Three of the performers made room in their tight programme of rehearsals to offer the youngest members of the family a master class. That afternoon sounds of glee could be heard at the Teatro Alfil as children aged seven to ten moved to the rhythm of their vigorous movements—sometimes accompanied by drums and on other occasions merely by the stamping of feet. The fact is that starting with basic movements and going on to learn different techniques, the young actors ended up skilfully designing their own show.
We missed the restoration of Tintoretto’s Paradise by the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, open to the public in the lobby of the museum. It was the first time a museum in Spain carried out a restoration before the curious and attentive gaze of its visitors. As mentioned, we were unable to attend the event, but fortunately we had another wonderful opportunity, if anything even more special, to gain access to the secrets kept by a great work of art: guided by the team of people who preserve and reveal what is concealed by the passing of time, we were able to stroll through spaces only accessible to specialists in conservation.
Its seasonal cuisine, the supreme quality of its produce and the courtesy of its manager Juanjo López Bedmar have deserved a mention in The New York Times, which has praised the excellences of this discreet restaurant behind the Gran Vía. Located at number 6 of Ballesta Street, La Tasquita de Enfrente has just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and tasting its cuisine and that of its new premises No Kitchen, is the best way to commemorate the event. After a master class given by its chef on the process of preparation of the dishes we shall enjoy during our evening meal, some of them made of exquisite canned foods, we were ready to surrender to one of Madrid’s classic eating places.
We had always been faithful to Asian food, but now we had the chance of learning to cook it. Siao Mai—steamed dumplings, Goi Cuono—Vietnamese rolls, Popiah Tod—fried Thai rolls, and Guotie—grilled samosas, are the fast-food delicacies sold at food stalls in all Eastern countries. As our first step was to purchase our products, we thought a guided tour of Mortenses Asian Market would help us choose the best ingredients. Then we headed for El Alambique cookery school, where we prepared a genuine Asian street-food menu.
Paco Roncero, a chef with two Michelin stars and distinguished with the National Prize for Gastronomy in 2006, invited us into the world of the gastronomy that looks to the future. Only eight people were able to enjoy an experience as private as it was unique: at a futuristic table on which moving images were projected, the sense of taste was as important as those of hearing, smell, touch and sight. Paco Roncero Taller, a space that is usually of restricted access, opened its doors for one evening on which we were able to enjoy avant-garde cuisine, providing us with a taste of all that lies in store for our senses.
Under the guidance of Darío Barrio, we experienced the whole process of creation of his recipes, from the market to the table. It all began at San Antón Market, where the well-known chef showed us how to choose the best raw material and fill our pantries. Weighed down with our shopping baskets, our host invited us into his sanctuary, the kitchen of dASSA bASSA—restaurant located in a former coal bunker. Under his instructional gaze we helped prepare the dishes we would taste at dinner. And the evening inevitably brought good conversation on food and drinks in the invaluable company of the barman.
My best friend was a true encyclopaedia in contact sports, especially boxing. He had seen the whole Rocky saga and When We Were Kings countless times, and now, at last, his dream of being ‘king for a day’ was about to come true thanks to Jonathan «Maravilla» Alonso. The young boxer welcomed us and summed up his brief but intense career: he told us his life story, describing his successes and failures, his motivation techniques and the tools he used in each of his rounds. Yet all didn’t end there as we then put on our trainers and gloves and entered the ring with the boxer to learn, and above all, release adrenalin.
As privileged spectators with the best views of the central tennis court, we watched the finals of the Mutua Madrid Open, where one of the best Spanish athletes of all time, Rafael Nadal, won his fourth consecutive trophy. But things didn’t initially seem to be so predictably easy for the Majorcan, for Nadal lost the first set of the match 2-6 to his opponent Kei Nishikori. Our champion didn’t disappoint us, however, and in a frenetic recovery in the second set, 6-4, the Japanese athlete was out of the game by 3-0, for Nadal’s renewed strength depleted his physical energy and finally obliged him to withdraw from a match he was already losing.
Over the course of two days Àlex Corretja, one of the giants of Spanish tennis, advised us on how to improve our technique. On the tennis court at La Caja Mágica, designed by French architect Dominique Perrault and one of Madrid’s most iconic sports centres, we practiced our service. In the stands, those companions who were able to come cheered and took pictures of our game. After the volley we visited the changing rooms, where access is usually restricted, and had a lively chat with the tennis player about sport at the Set Ball Café. The day wasn’t over yet though: those of us who still had time watched one of the matches in the Mutua Madrid Open on the central tennis court.
I had just got home from school and my godfather rang to say he had tickets to see the first Real Madrid match in the UEFA Champions League against Cøbenhavn. My father agreed, even though there was school next day. That night I found it difficult to sleep. When we arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium we used a different entrance and all of a sudden I found myself in the tunnel used by the players to enter the field. The doors opened and someone held my hand; as we climbed the stairway to the field I looked up and there he was, the player I so admire, with whom I was entering the field as if I were just another teammate.
Carolina Herrera renovated her boutique at 16 Serrano street, and celebrated the event with a private party for ten guests, who received advice on how to smarten up with the latest fashion complements: a genuine master class in scarves, stoles and kerchiefs. These accessories are at once ornamental and functional, but above all they are our closest allies. We discovered a whole new world, and couldn’t resist buying a few, more than we intended even, as the day ended with a sale.
In Orson Welles’s film The Third Man, the omnipresent character of Harry Lime said, ‘In Switzerland they had brotherly love—they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’ The meaning of the phrase ‘the precision of a Swiss clock’ had always intrigued us, but we finally understood it during the guided tour of Franck Muller & Complications Bar in Madrid, where a master watchmaker revealed the secrets behind the most historical and traditional accuracy. To crown it all, we enjoyed an intimate concert of the most random forms of musical precision, jazz. It certainly was a beautifully ironic day.
No fashion show by David Delfín, one of our most brilliant and controversial designers, goes unnoticed. At this year’s Merdeces-Benz FashionWeek he presented his latest collection, which was no disappointment. Once all the hustle and bustle involved in one of the main fashion events in Spain was over, the designer welcomed us into his atelier. Attentive to our questions, he showed us how his garments were made and we spent an insightful day with one of Spain’s most creative personalities.
The long-awaited celebration of Spanish fashion, the Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek, was approaching. When everything was ready and, like every year, we were preparing to watch the show from our living rooms, we received the invitations to form a part of the exclusive audience that would get a close-up view of the collection of one of the most important of Spanish designers, Juan Duyos. After the show and following a lively conversation at the elegant Kissing Room, the couturier gave us a guided tour of the less known parts of the event. As we got to know the private areas, he described how catwalks were organised and revealed his own personal understanding of fashion.
Antony and the Johnsons returned to the stage of the Teatro Real, , this time to present Swanlights, the show that reviewed the twenty years of the musical career of Antony Hegarty and his band. Tickets were sold out of course, but we were among the privileged few who were there. After a tour to discover the footlights of one of the city’s municipal jewels, we made our way to our box seat to enjoy the musical themes from the band’s four records: Antony and The Johnsons (2000), I Am A Bird Now (2005), The Crying Light (2009) and Swanlights (2010). And when we thought the evening couldn’t be more exceptional, we were shown to our seats in the Protocol Hall to enjoy a private dinner party.
There were no more than fifteen of us at the Bogui Jazz club in Madrid, and silence fell when the first notes of Alejandro Pelayo’s piano gave way, almost imperceptibly, to the deep voice of Leonor Watling. Both had prepared a selection of their favourite themes for the occasion. After the concert, as private as it was memorable, they joined us to share an evening snack and a conversation that transcended the field of music, in which the proximity and above all the charm of Marlango presided over the atmosphere. Meeting one of the most versatile of Spanish artists was not only unquestionably better than we expected, but was also an honour.
The Corral de la Morería was the exceptional stage and Blanca del Rey, una its artistic director, an unparalleled teacher of flamenco. Everything was prepared for us to awaken the ‘duende’ inside us all and let it stamp on the boards, for one afternoon at least. We were accompanied by the guitar of course, and the deep, rasping voice of the flamenco singer. In all likelihood, our inspiration won’t come even close to that of this great lady, winner of the National Prize for Flamenco and creator, along with the exceptional Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar, of shows as unforgettable as From Sitar to Guitar (1995). And yet, for one afternoon we came close.
First we visited one of the most archetypal buildings of the city, the opera house, and discovered its workings: the mechanisms that move the platforms, the preparation of the stage, the installation of the acoustic shell, the construction and assembly of the décor. The belly of the Teatro Real became visible as we were swiftly led to our privileged seats to listen. Yes, there he was, the one and only Rufus Wainwright, capable of marrying Berlioz and Judy Garland, celebrating his fortieth birthday in such a solemn place. When we thought the evening had come to a close, we dined like lords in the Isabel II Hall.
Our passion for wine saluted the morning at El Regajal wine cellar. After charging our batteries with a hearty breakfast and meeting our future travel companions, we set out. Our day was full of good stories and even better teachings about the ancestral production of wine. We learnt how to taste and select the best fruit and picked the prime specimens. After a quick snack, we left the labd and made our way to the wine cellar, where we witnessed the processing of the grapes and were able to taste the various stages of a Madrid wine, from unfermented grape juice to the end product, accompanied by a lunch in the garden of the vineyard.
The hosts of the evening were Carlos Gonsálbez and Estrella Orti, who had given everything up to devote themselves to their most personal project, Bodega y Viñedos Gonsábez Orti. Welcoming us warmly with a wine-tasting of their Mayrit Blanco and Qubél Revelación, they said a few words on what the evening held in store for us. It all began with a demonstration of the flight of the falcon and a master class at which we learnt a few secrets about birds of prey. After a stroll through the vineyards that ended with the contemplation of a spectacular sunset, we tasted a country dinner combined with Qubél Nature vintage wines. At nightfall, we watched the stars.
Beyoncé was concluding The Mrs Carter Show World Tour that had kept her on stage since April 2013, and one of her last stops—her only stop in Spain, was in Barcelona. Needless to say, we couldn’t miss the opportunity of seeing one of the greatest shows of the moment. Tickets had been sold out for weeks, almost months, but we managed to be there. At Palau Sant Jordi we were exceptional witnesses of a unique concert, a renewed show that was staged just as the diva’s latest album, simply titled Beyoncé, was released in December, and meant a new repertoire and a new mise-en-scène. ‘Mrs Carter’ and her ‘show’ certainly didn’t disappoint.
We wanted a space that was determined to excellently combine natural treatments and personal attention to customers; a space that provided a peaceful, relaxing break in our busy everyday lives. And we found it in the historical city of Chinchón, at the Hotel-Spa La Casa del Convento, a few yards from the famous Plaza Mayor, in a building that in the eighteenth century had housed an inn. Accommodated in the suite, during our stay we enjoyed a private session of body treatments that included champagne and an assorted fruit cocktail, as well as culinary delicacies prepared by chef Faustino Martín. Our intention was none other than to ‘experience rest.’