This blog series features Walks’ guides from around the globe. It also highlights some of the incredible people who walk with us from Rome and New York. We hope that this blog series, along with our tours from home, will bring you some travel inspiration. This is a chance to hear from Walks guests from around the globe!
Abel Ramos is our Madrid guide and today we have him join us. He tells us about his favorite art and neighborhoods in Madrid, a fascinating tale on Cervantes, and some other places that should be on our travel bucket lists. Abel will take care of it.
Introducing our Madrid Guide: Abel Ramos
Hola! I am Abel. I was born in Madrid and raised there. I attended the Universidad Autonoma to study Tourism Management. Since 2011, I am a licensed guide in Madrid. After having traveled throughout Europe as both a tour leader as well as as a river cruise manager. I enjoy showing people around my city and sharing my love of history and arts. As a lover of gastronomy and enology, I enjoy a friendly, warm conversation with people over a glass of wine.
Do You have a favourite piece of Madrid art?
Madrid is home to many world-class museums of art. Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza are just a few of the many. Each one is filled with incredible masterpieces, so it’s difficult to pick a favorite.
There is an incomprehensible painting that I can’t understand and I feel like I need more. It’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. This is where I finally find the time and space to escape from my home and immerse myself in the cryptic universe created more than five centuries ago by the Flemish painter Hieronymus.
Abel: Do you have a favorite area in Madrid?
Madrid’s center is compact and easy to navigate on foot. Each neighborhood is unique and has its own personality. Just cross one street and you’ll find a different section. Barrio de las Letras is my favorite, roughly translating to the Neighborhood of Writers. It is named after the many prominent figures of Spanish literature’s Golden Age who were born, lived, or buried in the region.
The list goes on and on, from Miguel de Cervantes, the most famous Spanish writer, to Lope de Vega, “The Phoenix of Wits”, as well as other local names like Francisco de Quevedo Luis de Gongora, Calderon de la Barca, and Francisco de Quevedo. The Barrio de las Letras houses some of the most prestigious art galleries, antique shops and boutiques in Madrid’s old town.
Which is your favorite story to share on a tour?
One of my favorite stories to tell on my tours is that of Miguel de Cervantes. He was the author of Don Quixote, one of the most important works of fiction ever written. He was born in Alcala de Henares, and lived many adventures and misfortunes in Spain and other Mediterranean countries throughout his life. However, he spent his final years in Madrid, where he died in 1616.
It was not known where his remains were located for nearly four centuries. His will was to be buried in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, located in the same neighborhood as Barrio de las Letras. He also lived there. His remains were lost when the building was rebuilt completely in 1673.
Five years ago, a team made up of archaeologists and historians from the area found his bones and his wife’s. I was living in the same street as the convent where excavations were taking places. By chance, archaeologists used have an after-work drink at the bar where I used meet up with friends. After drinking after drinking, I became friends with several of them, and was able to get some exclusive information about Cervantes’s finds, before they were officially announced.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a tour guide?
The most difficult part was staying at home and trying to figure out different scenarios in the aftermath of the pandemic.
How do YOU see the travel industry changing during and after these times?
This situation will lead to more private tours and smaller groups. Visitors will be more interested in alternative destinations and smaller venues, rather than mass tourism. This will open up new destinations to a lot of potential.
Where is your favorite place to visit outside of your hometown?
I quite like India. I was there ten year ago and would love to go back. It is often viewed as one country with one identity, but it is very diverse and almost like a continent within one country.
Which city or country in the world do think is most underrated?
Morocco will soon be a popular destination. It’s so close to major European destinations, but it remains exotic and unexplored.
Which city has the best food?
The quality and variety in Singapore’s food was what impressed me when I visited. Every aspect of Singapore, from street food stalls to fine dining restaurants, was exceptional.