Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barcelona again, a 3rd anniversary, dinner at Irene’s, a family trip to La Rioja and remembering Aunty Masha

The 5 of us together at the Márques de Riscal winery in Elciego.
Hi again

Well here I am this Sunday afternoon writing from our room in the Parador in Calahorra in La Rioja region of Spain. The girls are in their room resting as is my Father in his. We are on the awaited family trip to La Rioja. Soon though we may get together to watch the “clasiquísimo” derby as Barcelona will be playing Real Madrid later on this evening. I will probably just about tolerate the match and continue writing my blog as there is a lot to tell this week.

This time last week, Suzy and I were on our way to Barcelona on the AVE as the high speed train is known here. It takes just over 2 hours and since it came into operation many people stopped taking the plane, one of them being me. It was Suzy’s first trip and here is a photo of her with the free sun glasses that came with the Cosmopolitan magazine.

My mission in Barcelona was to attend the CMT international conference and also to site inspect possible locations for a press conference in February. Suzy joined me and we stayed at one of my favourite hotels, 1898 right on the Ramblas and very near the Mercado de la Boquería which we visited twice to buy fruit for ourselves and some amazing chocolates for my Father.
Suzy by one of the fruit stalls at the famous Mercado de la Boquería on Las Ramblas.
There was plenty of time for pleasure so on Sunday night we had dinner, as I do every time I come to Barcelona, with Grainne and with Marcel her son. It was a great evening catching up on the past (well we did go to school together) and on the present.
Suzy and Grainne
There was also time for walking and Suzy and I made our way, of course, to the beach, to the Barceloneta area and along to the Hotel Arts. The temperature was most agreeable with the thermometer reaching the early 20ºs at midday. We went again when we visited Bestial, a great restaurant, which is practically on the beach and which was the location we finally chose for our event in February. Great place!
Suzy and I on the beach in Barcelona.
Barcelona was great, as always. The trip was just slightly dampened by the theft of Julia’s iPhone when we went for dinner on the second night. Julia is an Austrian friend of Susana’s from when they both worked on the Nokia N-Gage tour some years ago. We hardly noticed when a man came up to our table and placed a piece of paper on it. He was asked to leave but later we realised he had stolen Julia’s phone right under our noses and we hadn’t seen him do it. Hopefully the restaurant will be able to claim insurance.

You can see the full set of photos of our trip to Barcelona here on Facebook.

Soon we were home again. On the Thursday I had the Yoigo 3rd anniversary press conference with things to announce so Wednesday was spent working non-stop on last minute details. The conference went really well. We held it at Eco Bar Spa in Paseo Rosales in Madrid. As we were announcing a new tariff of 6 cents per minute, we had built a giant 6 with over 15,000 lego pieces which took 3 days to build. You can see me posing by it with my new red glasses (classy eh? Or not? – not sure yet really) and the rest of the photos here.
Me and the giant lego 6 at the Yoigo press conference on its 3rd anniversary this week.
And this week was also the week we had dinner at Irene’s. Irene is Irene González from the González-Gálvez family, the family I lived with as a student in Spain in the late 70’s and whom I have written about many times recently as we have re-established contact and now see each other for dinner quite often.
Dinner at Irene's, from left to right: me, Gerardo, Vicky, Irene, Tomás
We hadn’t been to Irene’s house before and it’s lovely and cosy and beautifully decorated. Thomas, her husband, did the cooking and got full marks for a great vichyssoise and cod with peppers. We also got to meet their older kids, Paula and Tomás. The small ones, beautiful Celia and Nacho were there too to greet us before going to bed. We were joined, of course, by Irene’s brother, Gerardo and his lovely wife Vicky. Here are some more photos of that great evening. Our next meeting will in February and we look forward to that.

That was on Friday and the next day, yesterday, we were to leave for Calahorra in La Rioja. The most difficult part was getting all of us in the car on time (09.30h) with the luggage. It was mission impossible and it was only achieved at 10.15 with very grumpy girls. Our first stop was just outside Burgos at the famous Hotel Landa Palace. It was too early for lunch so we made do with refreshments. We always stop there on our way to the north and back and love the place for the atmosphere and food.
Oli, Suzy and me at the Landa Palace near Burgos on our way to La Rioja.
A couple of hours later we finally arrived at Calahorra (the vegetable capital of Spain by the way) which is nearly 500km from Madrid. Yesterday’s programme was lunch at the Parador, exploring the town, a walk, a lovely long rest in our rooms and then dinner at La Rana del Moral, recommended to me by a friend at work, Pilar. It was a great recommendation.
The girls and I in Calahorra yesterday.
And today was dedicated to the Márques de Riscal winery in Elciego. I have been there many times but it was new for my Father and Olivia and, in fact, neither the girls nor my Father had ever visited a winery or bodega as they are known here.

The Márqués de Riscal winery is apparently the oldest in La Rioja but it is also famous for its hotel which was built by the Canadian architect, Frank O’Gehry. It is spectacular and very modern, in sharp contrast to its surroundings, which have probably not changed much since the last century.
Frank O'Gehry's Márques de Riscal hotel in Elciego
Elciego, the village where the City of Wine is located, is very pretty and typical of the area with its church and spire and cobbled streets.
The four of us in Elciego
After the visit to the winery and the village, we made our way to the hotel to the table we had reserved at the magnificent 1860 restaurant (1860 was the year the bodega was established). This was perhaps the most significant moment of the weekend’s programme.

You can see the full set of photos of our trip to La Rioja here.

Tomorrow we will be going back to Madrid and both Eladio and Oli will be in a bit of a rush as they have to work in the afternoon. I have a busy week ahead of me but not quite as stressful as last week, thank goodness.

I cannot finish this post without referring to my dear Aunty Masha. Last year today she passed away. She always seemed so eternal to me and was an important reference point in my life, as my Mother’s youngest sister and the maternal family member who was closest to me. She really was a character as you can read about her in my post from last year.

And on that note, I will end this week’s blog post.
Until next time, Masha.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some pics :).