Top things to do in Madrid

By Shereen Shabnam

 

With the holidays approaching, there’s no better time to start planning for your winter getaway. Madrid is one of the most celebrated and beautiful places in the world and a magnet for elite international tourism and shopping is always top of the list for Madrid visitors.

My daughter has a soft spot for the the iconic El Corte Inglés department store in Castellana, where she has her first ever VIP shopping experience and did a colour consultation that showed her which colours suited her the best.

The store is a draw for shopping lovers as one of the world’s largest stores, there are many amazing activities for the discerning traveller within close proximity.

And while you are in Madrid, here are some of Madrid’s top sights to catch between a shopping spree at El Corte Ingles.

1: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Just a nine-minute walk from El Corte Inglés, Madrid’s main football stadium is home to the city’s most popular team: Real Madrid. Opened in 1947, the stadium is enormous and has undergone multiple renovations over the years, now seating up to 81,044 people. There is no better way to experience an integral part of the Spanish culture than to cheer on Real Madrid at a game.

2: Puerta de Alcalá

A quick 10-munite drive from El Corte Inglés, the Puerta de Alcalá, meaning the “Citadel Gate” and derived from the Arabic word al-qal’a, is a neo-classical monumental city gate, and regarded as the first modern, post-roman, triumphal arch in Europe. It was built between 1769 and 1778, using granite and stone from Colmenar and makes a wonderful backdrop for a memorable picture.

3: El Prado Art Museum

Not falling short on culture, Madrid’s Prado Art Museum is one of the world’s first museums to hold a royal collection of art from the 15th to the 17th centuries, including the works of Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ and El Greco’s ‘The Annunciation’. Art lovers can also head to the neighbouring Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza finishing the Golden Triangle of Art to admire the works of many world-renowned abstract and surrealist artists, all only a short ride from the famous El Corte Inglés.

4: Plaza de Cibeles square

Adjacent to Paseo del Prado, marvel at marble sculptures at the city’s most famous plaza. Known for its stunning architecture, the fountain features the Roman goddess Cybele who represents Earth, agriculture and fertility, and was adopted by the city’s football team. After a winning match for Real Madrid, this is the spot to celebrate the victory.

5: El Corte Inglés

The seven-storey department store is the hotspot for visiting fashion mavens. International visitors receive a 10% reward discount card year round and can ask to have their shopping delivered to their hotel or home country, along with assistance with their tax refund. Celebrating its 75th anniversary, this shopping mall is in the heart of Madrid, and a stone’s throw away from many local attractions. The store features over 8,000 Spanish and international brands and is the ideal answer to the most discerning shopper with its comprehensive collection of designers.

People travel the world to find the beautiful and fantastic, and Madrid brims with exceptional experiences, whether it is the latest collection of a fashion designer at El Corte Inglés, a painting at one of its museums, or historic buildings that defy time. Let the imagination run wild and find inspiration at every corner of this storied city. El Corte Inglés is an iconic landmark of fashion that marks itself as a destination in its own right.

Christmas at Grand Hotel Zermatterhof

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By Shereen Shabnam

My favourite place in Switzerland, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof Zermatt, dominated by the Matterhorn is a rare place where everything works in synergy and GCC travellers can enjoy memorable winter stays including a generous breakfast buffet during the festive season at this majestic property.

My favourite memory from my visit is the transfer to and from the Zermatterhof and Zermatt station in a horse-drawn carriage or electric bus on the day of your arrival and departure.

Guests can enjoy a generous breakfast buffet, mineral water and soft drinks from the minibar, Ronnefeldt-Tea, Nespresso coffee machine with capsules, use of the spa, pool, steam bath, saunas, jacuzzi, ice grotto and gym and wireless Internet in the room and in all public areas.

Once you step into the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, hospitality and luxury takes on a whole new meaning. It is a hotel you want to spend time in, meet with other guests and enjoy a hot chocolate while gazing at the Matterhorn.

Zermatt is situated far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life at an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level. The historic village oozes with charm and the high street is lined with luxury shopping, world-class restaurants and stylish bars.

And Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is where time means something different from what it means in the city. It is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

For ski enthusiasts, there is no better place than Zermatt to flirt with adventure and enjoy the sport with untouched stunning terrain and a helicopter to give you a lift there. Zermatt is the Alps’ largest heli-skiing destination and offers the best snow with the stunning beauty of the Alps.

Zermatt is a private playground for guests who truly want to get away and indulge in a memorable holiday. 

In love with Doner Deli

Shereen Shabnam

Street food is my comfort food so when I recently went to Doner Deli with a couple of friends to indulge in some great Street food and was pleasantly surprised with the choice, taste and ambience of the restaurant.

The dishes are perfected by the founders Hazem Elgendy and Mustafa Alrefaie who love Doner and travelling and hence visited Turkey, Greece, Lebanon and Germany for inspiration before coming up with their own Doner recipe with innovative preparation methods.

I loved the combination of the Kebabs in Pita Bread with the creamy potato salad. The sliders were good too but I saved some space for the delicious brownies. The potato salad was a perfect side dish to accompany the kebabs.

The kebab in Pita bread is the real deal…it must be the sauce, which is tangy, but with a garlic kick in it that just enhances the taste of the meal. The sliders were good but I would have sneaked more of the sauce from the kebab. Brownies were the melt in your mouth kind so we naturally left the place on a high note.

For the drinks I went with lemon mint, which was not too sour or sweet, hence just right to make it refreshing in between. I sneaked a sip of the Oreo Shake from my companion and it was pretty decadent. Good for her but not good for my waistline hence I opted for the lighter drinks.

It was easy to get seats and while waiting for the food, I looked at the large artwork done in chalk on the wall. It creates a warm ambience and gives it a trendier look.

Certainly a place to go back for more with an extra dash of the Doner Deli magic sauce and definitely a lot more brownies.

There are 4 branches of Doner Deli in Dubai and two in Abu Dhabi.

My Andalusian Journey

Seville, Granada and Cordoba

By Shereen Shabnam

Ever since I bought a home in Spain, visiting Andalusia, a Moorish empire named Al-Andalus (Arabic for “land of the west”) has been top of my agenda to immerse myself in the history and character of the Iberian Peninsula. This year, my Andalusian road adventure lasted three weeks filled wandering through narrow, white washed alleys, relaxing siesta, tapas bars, historical monuments, lush green gardens and so much more. I drove to over nine cities but my experiences in Seville, Granada and Cordoba were the most memorable.

Seville

I started my journey from the Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla after a refreshing nights sleep and headed to Seville City, the heart of Andalusia surrounded by gorgeous buildings with a vibrant flamenco and tapas scene. Seville is after all a city full of art, rich history and colorful culture.

Seville’s beautiful Moorish Giralda tower was visible from a distance as during Moorish times, it served as a minaret and watchtower. I headed straight to the Alcazar and basked in the grand architecture and the beautiful gardens. The palace was occupied from Roman times but later expanded to form the great court of the Abbadid dynasty and each corner is breathtaking.

Seville’s cathedral was a sight to see with tombs, a courtyard of orange trees and afterwards it is great to explore the old Jewish Quarter with vibrant alleys filled with souvenir shops. The Las Setas, a modern art structure and canopy is impressive and the Metropol Parasol offers great photographic opportunities. The historic Buhaira Gardens was where I left my heart. It is stunning and one can spend hours in awe of it.

Granada

Going back to the Alhambra in the historic city of Granada never loses it charm no matter how many times you visit the palace and its impressive and very extensive gardens. Exploring the attraction alone is never enough. After a full day in the Al Hambra, I still ventured out to a nearby hill (Mirador de San Nicholas) to see the building in all its grandeur at sunset.

The afternoons are best spent wandering around Calle Caldereria Nueva for some tapas, tea and to enjoy Hammam baths that compares with the ones we have here in the Arab world and in Turkey. Baths played an important role in Muslim life and you can relive the experience in modern day steam bath venues. Shopping in Granada is a must as you get the best quality souvenirs and at a lot more reasonable cost than other cities in the area.

Cordoba

In Cordoba I stayed in a convent that was later designed into a boutique Hotel. The city was great to walk in and features one of the world’s greatest Moorish buildings, the Mezquita, at its heart.

My first stop was the Mosque of Cordoba followed by the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, Calahorra Tower, the Roman temple of Cardoba, the Museum of Fine Arts of Cordoba, Medina Azahara and the Royal Botanical Garden of Cordoba.

Built between the 8th and the 10th century, Cordoba’s mosque is a beautiful example of Spanish Islamic architecture and brought back memories of working on the publicity of my first architecture project in Dubai for the Andalusia Court in Ibn Battuta Mall.

The evenings were a delight in Andalusia in general as we enjoyed the extravagant Moorish architecture and the exuberant street life of the different cities. There is always a lot going on in Andalusian cities and its picturesque cobbled streets as you encounter historic monuments, tapas bars and fiery flamenco at every corner.

 

Filipino Favourite Pancake House Welcomes Guests To Its First Location in Dubai at BurJuman

A brand that is as familiar and dear as a childhood friend among the Filipino community, the Pancake House has just celebrated its arrival to the UAE with the launch of its first outlet in Dubai at BurJuman following a partnership with Tablez Food Company.

With a presence in the Philippines since 1974, the Pancake House has gained a spot in every Filipino’s heart and established itself as a community favourite thanks to its exceptional pancakes that are made fresh from scratch for every order, retro style, and memory evoking homey feel it is mostly known for. Today, the Pancake House boasts over 160 stores in the Philippines and around the world, including its latest outlet at BurJuman Dubai, as it has been growing with its guests, celebrating their happiest moments with family and friends, and now proudly welcoming second generations of patrons in both the Philippines and the UAE.

Entering the Dubai food scene with a bang, The Pancake House’s delicious menu will introduce the public to some of the restaurant’s most iconic dishes available every morning, noon, evening, and at all times in-between, boasting a wide selection of crowd pleasers ranging from fluffy pancakes and scrumptious waffles, to mouth-watering main courses, delicious snacks, and refreshing drinks. The Pancake House will be welcoming its well-loved friends to celebrate the arrival of their favorite brand to the UAE, and will be bringing home goodness all the way from the Philippines to also create new memories with the ones who are not yet familiar with the concept, inviting them to explore the original creations as it offers something suitable for every palate

Commenting on the opening of yet another exciting concept, Shafeena Yussuf Ali, CEO of Tablez Food Company said: “The decision of bringing The Pancake House to the UAE came from a sheer love for the concept, the warmth it exudes, and most importantly a respect for its team’s dedication to offer an unbeatable taste and experience, which are the founding principles for Tablez as well”. “At Tablez Food Company, we are strongly committed to associate ourselves with concepts we have an emotional connection with and truly believe in, and we are extremely excited for what the future holds for The Pancake House as it’s now set to cater the same positive vibes and great food not only to Filippino guests living here but to all foodies in Dubai”, she added.

“We are pleased to welcome the Pancake House to BurJuman,” said BurJuman Management. “With our relaunch last year, we took a conscious decision of getting closer to our customers by bringing them the best in community in-mall entertainment, dining and shopping experiences. A nostalgic favourite with the Filipino community, the Pancake House, is a welcome addition to our culinary offering and is sure to become a popular destination for customers and the wider community alike.”

The Pancake House’s doors are now officially open. For more information, including opening hours, visit burjuman.com.

 

PEARL YACHTS: THE NEW PEARL 80 MAKES ITS WORLD DEBUT AT FLIBS 2017

The new 24-meter Pearl 80 by Pearl Yachts will make its world debut at the upcoming Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, from November 1 to 5. The new flybridge yacht amazes with numerous features, bright and open interiors, and four guest cabins.

Warwick, October 2017. Impressive manoeuvrability and sea keeping, light-filled interiors and a layout that maximises space are just a few of the main features of the new Pearl 80, the elegant flybridge yacht that will be presented for the first time ever this November at the US boat show.

The new Pearl 80 continues the shipyard’s hugely successful design collaboration between naval architect Bill Dixon, who designs the exterior, and designer Kelly Hoppen, who looked after the interior layout. As all the Pearl Yachts models, in fact, the yacht features original Kelly Hoppen interior design, with a plus. The owner has 3 style to choose from: ‘taupe’, ‘studio’ and ‘luxury’, making possible to customise the yacht while retaining the ‘designer’ interior.

The vast outdoor spaces are equalled by the beautiful calm interior literally flooded with light through the stunning side windows, which give the boat a glamorous profile designed to turn heads. The flybridge, aft of the twin seat helm station, has a covered area with sofas, low tables, a bar unit and a classic sun lounging area right in the stern, furnished with refined chaises longues. The area on the main deck that best expresses the yacht’s character is without doubt the elegant saloon, furnished with light colourways and materials. An electrically operated door separates this saloon from the cockpit area, which has a superbly crafted teak/Corian table surrounded by armchairs and sofas. Forward the galley is separated from the saloon by a rise and fall panel allowing privacy if required, the dining area opposite the lower helm and galley is flooded by light from the overhead double windscreen.

The basic layout of the accommodation has four double cabins, two with double beds and two with twin beds (although the twins can convert to doubles), and all are En-suite. The full beam owner’s suite is a class leader and situated in the centre of the yacht, and all are on the lower deck. The furnishing of these settings is reminiscent of the colours and materials of the day area, although each cabin has its own special style. The result is a sophisticated atmosphere that is also warm and welcoming.

In the engine room, two MAN V12 1800 HP engines give the yacht a remarkable top speed of 35 knots and is comfortable cruising between 25-27 knots. The range at this speed is approximately 300 nautical miles. Other features include a Jet ski garage, Hydraulic bathing platform, foredeck lounge, hardtop with sunroof and a hot tub!

Pearl Yachts will be attending the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show 2017 – Stand Red Zone DE 2

 

Pascal Tepper inaugurates New Dine-in Bakery and Bistro branch at French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts

UAE’s popular French Dine-in Bakery and Bistro Brings a New Taste of Freshness to the French Village

Quintessential French Chef Pascal Tepper Meilleur Ouvrier de France inaugurated the opening of his latest Pascal Tepper French Dine-in Bakery and Bistro at the French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts by cutting a red ribbon with the representative of the Franchise Owner from Global Delicacy Restaurant LLC and French Consulate representative in Dubai UAE. This is not the first Bakery restaurant for the renowned chef who also has several more successful and popular branches of the international chain of Dine-in Bakery and Bistro within the United Arab Emirates.

­Many of the dishes that the guests sampled were constructed from Chef Tepper’s passion for baking and developing new recipes. But the main inspiration was from the menu, resulting in a beautiful finger food spread inclusive of cocktail drinks. Guests received a gift bag while leaving that included delicious freshly baked bread at the Dine-in Bakery and Bistro, a stunning assortment of delicate macaroons and a rich decadent selection of chocolates and dessert pastries.

A baker’s passion for his work is reflected in his bread, and Chef Tepper’s golden crusty oven-fresh bread is a sensory experience alone, especially when complimented with the flaky crunchiness of the beautiful selection of the viennoiserie pastries after the main meal.

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Chef Pascal Tepper Meilleur Ouvrier de France commented of the new opening: “One of my motto’s in life is to always push myself to go farther. I’ve always been inspired to create since I was born to do baking, and when I’m surrounded by fresh ingredients of high quality combined with my love of creating dishes, I take inspiration from my surroundings, nature and colors which all lovingly go into my dishes.” When asked about why he cooks, Chef Tepper responded: “With cooking I feel that I am touching people’s lives and with every new opening of Pascal Tepper we have more of a chance to touch even more lives and enhance people’s senses when it comes to gastronomical satisfaction. After all this is what I am good at coming from a long line of French bakers as I’m a 4th generation baker”.

The inauguration took place at 6 pm followed by a speech. The guests were serenaded with the beautiful melodies of French music before and after being wowed by the skill of a light-fingered magician as they sampled signature dishes including fresh salad, delicate sandwiches with the most delicious fresh fillings and many more dishes loved by many.

Pascal Tepper located in French Village Riverland Dubai Parks and Resorts is the 4th branch in UAE and their strategy is to expand and have more branches across the world.

Please visit Pascal Tepper and enjoy both modern and traditional French dining, from hot and cold dishes to oven-fresh bread, chocolates, freshly baked dessert pastries and many more with a contemporary environment.