Monday, May 1, 2017

Madrid - Entry 001

Greetings from Japan! Welcome to the inaugural post of a blog centered around fashion (menswear specifically), travel, and other tidbits that assist the every day traveler, in a meaningful way.

As of now, we shall discuss the topics in the following manner:

  • Fashion - What is being brought, and trends are at the destination. If fortunate, some of the local menswear may be featured if I can get my hands on them!
  • Travel - Methodologies as to how I got about searching/booking flights, accommodations, and so on.

A note on flights - In my limited experience thus far, there is no "secret" to finding, and not limited to the following:
  • Cheap, last-minute flights;
  • A particular day to buy flights; or
  • A flight from point A to point B at the precise time and price desired.

The take away - My life is incredibly flexible to travel the way I do. If your life is unable to accommodate the strategies discussed here, that is okay! Perhaps something you read shall trigger an idea elsewhere or for something else. Or you may dislike what is written altogether. Regardless, this has to do with what pieces of wisdom I can provide from my experiences. With that being said, let's move onto the first destination!

Destination: Madrid, Spain - Kudos to Andy for all the recommendations!
Outbound: 31 March 2017
Return: 03 April 2017
Cost of Flight: 430,86$ USD with American Airlines
Accommodations: HostelWorld; CouchSurfing

Packed: As of now, I travel with strictly carry-on luggage. It is the only way to fly! Passing through immigration, and walking right out of the airport, who wouldn't want that?! In any event, I carry Ghurka's Express No. 2 and Vocier's C38. I normally carry at least one two-piece suit, or a combination of a blazer and two different pants. My dress shirts are generally custom made, with some off-the-peg. When I am lazy and need something last-minute, Uniqlo is my go-to. I have slim fitting clothing at my disposal.

FlightsSince I knew I had only the weekend, Europe was my plan of action since there are more frequent flights there, a shorter flight time that Asia, and more desirable than anything in the Caribbean [because I was feeling more adventure than beach] and South America [because of excessive connections]. I looked for flights the night of Monday, March 27th using Flights GoogleWhat did I do? Under the "Where to?" section, I simply typed "Europe." [You can be more specific by typing "Western Europe"]. I looked at the results, and noticed Madrid and Barcelona had sub 450$ fares, so I further changed the search from "Europe" to "Spain," and viola, I found multiple destinations within Spain that were of the similar pricing of 450$ return ticket [I shall always describe flights as "return" or "round trip" unless stated otherwise]. It was a matter of finding the dates and flights that best fit my schedule. And that was it? Hardly! My personal preference is always to find the flights via Google Flights, and then book flights directly with the airline carrier. Why? If there is ever a hiccup in travel scheduling, the airline is responsible [to a certain degree] to ensure you get where you need to go. When booking through an Online Travel Agency [OTA] such as Expedia or Orbitz, there could potentially be a back-and-forth of contacting the OTA, the airline, and possibly more when your travels face unforeseen circumstances.

Fashion: Upon arriving, I was fortunate that I had a non-native local, Julianne, show me around. It was interesting to note, that she stated how obvious it was Madrid's current fashion is stuck in an 1980s, grunge, leather facade. We are talking leather jackets with spikes, tight jeans or leather pants even.

"Circular sunglasses new big, it's kind of a mix of 1980s and hipster. Malasaña is like the center for that kind of style, but you can find it all over the city" - Julianne

Now, is this the statement Madrid, let alone Spain has to make in 2017? Who knows. It was worth mentioning as it was an observation made and noticed quickly if you find yourself wanting to settle or live in Madrid. In terms of the fashion opportunities to buy in Madrid, the central area where I was, Sol [which is "sun" in English], has all the typical shops originating from the United States and other countries in Europe. What was more interesting are the smaller shops and boutiques that Madrid had to offer. As it turns out, there was insufficient time to visit. The good news is, I can report where some of them are thanks to Julianne! If it were me personally, I would have looked in the neighborhood of Salamanca, as that is "the more upscale neighborhood that tends to be a bit more posh" since it matches my style. The streets we passed by quickly with such boutiques are Calle de la Palma and Calle Espíritu Santo.

Accommodations: Lastly, I have a little sequence of how I got about finding accommodations to the destinations I visit. In general, I check on CouchSurfing - Think a combination of AirBnb and Craigslist with an eBay rating system, HostelWorld - What feels like an amalgamation of every hostel that exists in the world, and a series of hotel chains, depending on status, credit cards, deals, and so on. I was fortunate to book a good deal via HostelWorld, but then last-minute, someone was willing to host me on CouchSurfing, which I was, and always eternally grateful. At a later date, I shall go into the details of accommodations.

  • Andy - @techdesco: For giving me tips for my first time it in Madrid. Loved the food recommendations!
  • Julianne - @julianne.hall: For being a fantastic guide to her beloved city and what she calls home. To give the local experience and simply incorporate me into her every day life...when she is not busy!
Cheers for reading my first post! There shall be more to come as the weeks go by, as I feel I should write them when abroad, or when there is a nice little lull in time. Please post comments or questions below, as I want to get a feel to write to you all, the audience! Sure, there are some aspects I maintain because I have a particular vision. At the end, I am writing to get the details out there to my audience and people that inquire about my travels!