Sunday, June 21, 2009

Montrondo, La Rioja, castles in Burgos and Oli in Guatemala. Eta killed again. Quënco, 26 years later.

The family "property" in Montrondo, gorgeous in June.
Hi again

Another week has past and here I am sitting in the shade by the pool this hot first day of summer, 21st June which is the longest day of the year too. Suzy is studying upstairs. Tomorrow she has her last exam before September and is waiting impatiently for her holidays to start. Eladio is finishing his siesta upstairs and doesn’t want to leave the air conditioned room. Grandpa is finishing his and will soon be down for his afternoon cup of tea.

Oli is missing. She’s missing because on Friday she went to Guatemala with her friend Laura to work with under privileged children in a rural area near Antigua in collaboration with an organisation called “Cooperatour”.
Antigua in Guatemala where Olivia is staying.
They will be living with a family and probably actually helping to teach the children. The experience will be fascinating. So far the few messages we have received are brimming with amazement.
Children in Guatemala.
When Olivia’s back she will be moving out. She and her colleague Miriam have found a little place in the Delicias area of Madrid. It sounds very small and pokey but for Oli it means so much as it’s her gateway to independence.

Meanwhile, Eladio and I spent the better part of the week between Montrondo and La Rioja.
Eladio's parents' house in Montrondo and where all 6 "children" were born.
We went to his village to receive the furniture we had ordered from Ikea the week before for our room and for the room the girls sleep in.
The lorry with our furniture outside the house in Montrondo.
We spent a happy time cleaning and clearing as much as we could (you could clean for a year there and you would still have to go on). There was some time for walks and a quick visit to see Primo who is building a small house next to where he was born. It’s called “El Huerto” and is right now the passion of his life. He gave me the first lettuce of the season which we enjoyed later both for lunch and for dinner. Lettuce from his orchard in Montrondo tastes so much better than from a supermarket I must say.
Primo outside the unfinished house, El Huerto, he is so lovingly building.
We were quite happy with the end result, although Ikea had made a mistake with a couple of items which means we will be going back again. Going back again means yet another 400 odd kilometre drive. However as we still have a few more finishing touches to make to both rooms, we don’t really mind going back. The problem is fitting a date into our already busy diary for this month and next.
A view of our "new" room.
The other finished room where the girls sleep when they go to Montrondo. I thnk they only went once a year before as their slepping conditions were dreadful. I hope that changes now.
You can see the whole set of photos here on Facebook.

From Montrondo we drove to La Rioja as I had to visit the “city of wine” in Elciego, belonging to the Márques de Riscal wine makers. It is here that I am taking the Yoigo staff and partners to dinner during the Summer Party next week. The object of my visit was to make sure the dinner went perfectly. I was also on a mission to make sure the cocktail takes place, not in some characterless wedding lounge but in the grounds of the hotel itself. The hotel is unique and was built by the famous architect Frank O’Gehry. Gehry is famous in Spain for having designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, sometimes hailed as the most important structure of our times.
The spectacular Márques de Riscal hotel in Elciego, La Rioja.

On our way we drove through that quintessential Spanish province of Burgos. We stopped for petrol at about lunchtime and we were in luck as in the very village we had stopped at there was a castle restaurant cum hotel which was irresistible to us. In turned out to be more impressive on the outside and the food not the best we have had on our travels.
The castle hotel in Olmillos de Sasamón in Burgos, quite a find on our way to La Rioja.
On our way back we visited another castle in Burgos or rather palace, this time the Hostal Landa Palace. We stopped here to do a quick site tour as this will be the stopping off place for the Yoigo summer party participants next week.
The Landa Palace in Burgos
The Landa Palace, hotel, bar and restaurant, is just outside Burgos and is somewhere we have been stopping every time we go north. We have never stayed at this 5 star hotel which looks very promising but have often tasted the great Burgos delicacies it offers such as morcilla or suckling lamb. This is truly the best roadside restaurant we have every found in Spain.

We drove back on Friday afternoon just on time for an important date. That evening we were going to have dinner with Irene and Gerardo and their partners at Qüenco.
The unpretentious little Andaluz family run restaurant in Madrid which has remained unchaged since our wedding.
Qüenco is where we celebrated our wedding on 21st August 1983. My Spanish family was a big part of it. Gerardo, who was 18 at the time, drove me to the wedding and his sister, Irene, was one of my bride's maids.
Gerardo and I during the wedding celebration at Qüenco 26 years ago. In the picture too, my best friend Amanda and Gerardo's youngest brother, Toti.
Qüenco has become one of their favourite places but we hadn't been back since the day we married until last Friday.
Me flanked by Tomás on my right and Gerardo on my left at Qüenco.
-Eladio flanked by Viki on his right and Irene on his left at Qüenco.
The reunion was great, even the waiters remembered us. We shall be returning. By the way, the salmorejo is out of this world.
You can see the whole set of photos here on Facebook.

That’s what we’ve been up to this week. We were away in own little world in Montrondo and in La Rioja, very disconnected from what was going on in the world as I only used my pc for work purposes.

It was therefore a bit of a shock to learn when we got back that ETA terrorists had killed once again. This time their victim was Bilbao anti-terror chief Eduardo Puelles García who was killed in a car bomb attack. Spain is in a state of shock this weekend. When will the terror end I ask myself?
The car bomb in Spain on Friday
This flag with the symbolic black ribbon can be seen everywhere now in protest for the killing.
On an international level I learned there were disturbances in Iran after the general elections which the radical candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, won. The protests are about the supposed electoral fraud which seemingly robbed the more liberal candidate, Hoseein Mousavi, of presidency. Will there ever be a democracy in Iran I wonder?
Disturbances in Iran. Could this be the beginning of a movement towards democracy?
That’s what this week brought. I know what lies in store for me in the week coming up but more about that in my next post.

Cheers for the moment.

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