Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Work life balance, from San Sebastián to La Rioja and home again; the parties are finally over until September and Suzy in Alicante + Oli in Mallorca

Me in the Marqués de Riscal vinyard in La Rioja, an excellent place to be!
Hi again,

I think the epitome of the perfect work life balance is using your laptop on the sun bed in the shade by swimming pool which is what I am doing right now.

My blog has become part of my “work” as work for me is both home life and company life and so, once a week or so, I have to update it. And this is the latest update:

Apart from the posts on “it’s” new name, Joe, and on Spain winning the European Football championship, I last left you when I was in San Sebastian with Oli for the company Summer Party last week. It went really well, especially as the dinner coincided with the semi final where Spain beat Germany. We all got kitted out and Oli and I even had our faces painted with the Spanish colours. In the afternoon I had 150 people in 12 different teams doing a Gymkhana around the old part of the town, the port and the beach. They had to do things like distinguish the local beverage, Txacoli, from white wine blindfolded or get more than 13 people in a car, including someone from the street, and be able to shut the doors.

Oli and me with our faces painted with the Spanish colours!
It was a great event which needed one hell of a lot of planning and when I got up on Friday morning to catch the 11 flight with Oli to Madrid I felt absolutely exhausted and looked like something the cat had brought in! Eladio was at the airport to pick me up as we were off to La Rioja.

Oli was going to Mallorca that very evening with her best friends from school for a week. She must be having a great time as every time I ring she seems to be too busy to talk! When she comes back she will be starting a summer work placement with RTVE, Spain’s national TV and Radio broadcasting station. I must publicly say here that big thanks go to my friend Pedro for his help. Thanks Pedro!!!

Eladio and I drove up to La Rioja to a small village called Elciego where the famous Marqués de Riscal Hotel is. As I said in my earlier post, this was a trip with Dircom, the Spanish Association of Communications Directors. I had jumped at the opportunity as the Association had negotiated an enormous discount and package at 300 euros per couple which would include the dinner, a spa treatment, the visit to the wine cellars as well as a wine tasting session and lunch when the most economical room costs 450 euros/night!!

I wish I hadn’t been so tired after San Sebastian otherwise I would have enjoyed the trip more. As it was, it was great but my energy level was at an all time low unfortunately. Even so I was bowled over by our room and bathroom, the hotel itself and its surroundings.
Eladio enjoying our room!
The Marqués de Riscal Hotel was designed by Frank Gehry, that rather creative American architect. The style is rather strange and for me, at least, is too much of a contrast with the local village of Elciego and the architecture of the region. The colours, gold, silver and red are supposed to represent the colours of the Marqués de Riscal bottles and wine.
Eladio by the main entrance of the hotel.
Me at the hotel
The spa was superb as was the treatment we got; a 15 minute wine bubble bath soon after we arrived at the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa – I’m sure it has a more sophisticated name but I don’t know what it is. This helped me to partially recover and enjoy the enormous dinner prepared for the Dircom group that evening.
Ready to go to the spa
The next day, Saturday, Eladio and I slept till 10.30 and nearly missed breakfast not that we were at all hungry. Funnily enough the breakfast was a bit disappointing for such a luxurious hotel.

As we were staying in what the brochure of the hotel denominated, the City of Wine, and we were in La Rioja, Eladio and I invested in quite a few boxes, only to realise later that we had also bought Marqués de Riscal wine from Castilla León rather than La Rioja! We also got a great tour of the wine cellars which date from 1860 and host barrels of wine for the King of Spain. The whole production for one year is 4.5 million bottles!!
All the different brands of wine produced by Marqués de Riscal
Very soon it was time for the wine tasting and buffet lunch and then time to leave as we wanted to explore the area before heading off home. Unfortunately I was far too tired to take in properly the beautiful towns of Laguardia nearby or San Millán de la Cogolla, the birth town of Castillian Spanish, or even that other Castillian jewel, Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

As usual coming home was the best thing about both trips. We were back so late I only caught a glimpse of Suzy and of my Father and Ernestina, Eladio’s Mother who is staying with us.

Sunday was spent recovering and sleeping and of course watching the European Cup Final which the whole world now knows Spain won!

Monday was spent still recovering and actually doing some personal errands such as choosing some new glasses. That is actually news as my current varifocal prescription glasses apparently make me look “old” and are very unflattering. Ever since I heard that I have wanted to get some new ones but of course, they cost a bomb and I knew I had to choose the right design this time. Well I hope I have as unfortunately my image advisors, Suzy and Oli, were not with me when I ordered them.

Yesterday, Monday, was the day of Suzy’s final exam for this summer and so she will have a rest until the second half of August when she will be in revision mode again for the September exams. When Suzy will finish her degree is actually a bit of a mystery. To celebrate and to wind down, she went to our apartment in Santa Pola yesterday by car with her friend Elena and cousins, Laura and Alicia. Laura and Ali (my god daughter) arrived from León by train in time for lunch with the family.
The 3 cousins
And today I went to the Spanish Parliament, the Senate or Upper House or however you want to call it. That was quite an unusual place to visit but it was where the Spanish Government body that regulates the telecommunications market had chosen to present the annual report for 2007. Here I met quite a few cronies from the sector as well as the telecoms media.
The Senate (El Senado)
Work this week is at a gentle pace, thank God. This month I have prepared 5 events and now they are finally over. The next one is in September and in Santander which should keep me ticking over for a while.

On Friday I will be going to the TV programme again to talk on the chat show again. I will be joined by Jill and Lisa the same as last time. I still haven’t thought about any topics, oh dear ….

And that’s about all for this week.

Cheers till next time,
Masha (in sweltering Madrid)

No comments: