Insider’s Madrid was founded by Joanna Wivell, who has lived and worked in Madrid since 1999. Insider´s Madrid’s comprises a small team of Madrileños who share a passion for the real Spain. Spain has always had a strong attraction for Joanna. While she was studying in Andalusia, she was drawn to flamenco and this in turn led her to explore the Spanish way of life.
After working in television in the U.K., she travelled extensively for two years’ adventurous travel in Asia and Latin America where she always sought the hidden treasures. She came to Madrid to produce programmes for the TV lifestyle channel, “Canal Estilo”. One of the programmes was a weekly magazine about what to do and where to go in Madrid; a great way to get to know the city and its people.
Since then, through her work in television and the hospitality of the Madrileños, Joanna has been lucky enough to meet some of the wonderful and creative people who make Madrid the vibrant city it is and strives to transmit that vibrancy in insidermadrid tours activities and events
I was three years old and my parents took my brother and me on holiday to a place that was different. It smelt of sunshine, the people were louder and friendly. It was called Spain, and I liked it.
The next time I returned, I was 22. I had no idea what people were saying, but I liked how they said it. It was as though you had imagined a favourite place and then someone just went and turned the volume right up. That vivid light, the sounds of life, the smell of black tobacco and eau de cologne, the incessant eye contact. It was a feast for the senses and I was in love. And that was before I had even set foot in La Mariquilla’s flamenco studio, before my exchange classes with the Sevillanas teacher and her twin sons and before I met my first Spanish boyfriend, Jose Luis. I had arrived home. Now I just had to patch things up with the language.
This I did as best I could before forcing myself to leave for Germany where I had studied part of my degree and thought it a more suitable place to start working. But I never felt I’d left Spain for good. In fact, I have always compared it to every other country I have visited… just to make sure.
Several years later, much to my parents at first pride and then worry, I embarked on a solitary journey with a round-the-world plane ticket as my only limitation. That soon got changed and cancelled as I realized that the slower you travel, the slower you need to travel to find the real deal. So the format changed from catching scheduled flights to hitching a lift to a village where a lorry passed through once a week to take you over the mountains and into some remote, enchanting village in the jungle. I began to learn the unspoken code of the open road. When one thing fails, the next will pick you up. If you became disappointed, then just around the corner, there would be something or someone waiting to surprise you.
I know that this is one of life’s great secrets; but that said, I do think that Madrid is one of the few cities I know where you don’t have to be on some kind of odyssey for this to work. It still happens to me, and I have been here for fourteen years now. You just have to be open to it and it happens.
I suppose it was a logical step for me to set up Insider’s Madrid. To take people by the hand and say, look here, touch this, experience this and this is why this is so great. And then, meet Angeles, she has been cooking paella for 26 years; meet Alberto, he has two great loves; tennis and jamón and this is his shop. In fact, there are so many people and places in Madrid ready to welcome us; it’s just a question of having the time to find them.
Insider’s Madrid is not only about offering the context and the background to the Spanish culture and meeting its ambassadors along the way, be they flamenco dancers, historians, chefs, actors or jamoneros, it’s also about the adventure, the interaction, the sense that we are part of the city, whether we are here for a day or a decade, alone or part of a large group.
It is also about finding solutions. You explain what you would like to organize: a party with a certain ambiance, a memorable day out for visiting friends or a company meeting with a difference. We do the work in the hope that you, too, can relax and encounter that surprise waiting around the corner.Joanna Wivell
Owner of Insider´s Madrid