Saturday, July 03, 2010

Fireworks, Valencia and the Yoigo Mid Summer Party, a celebration, more on the World Cup 2010, good news from Wimbledon, Hennie Kuiper at the Tour of France and sandals from Menorca.

The Yoigo family at the Mid Summer Party this week in Valencia cheering on Spain in the World Cup

Hi everyone

I have just noticed I have more than 40 thousand readers. I love writing my blog but it’s the number of readers that often inspires me to continue. I am amazed to see where they all come from. Blogger has just launched something called real time blogger stats which give you an insight on the traffic to your blog. My top 5 countries in order of readers are India, Spain, Germany, US and UK. I often wonder why people who don’t know me find my blog interesting and I don’t have the answer. Hopefully this week’s post meets with their approval.

It starts where I left off, last weekend. On Sunday, we had a barbecue and in the evening, after another World Cup match (when humble Ghana beat the USA) we went out to dinner with Anne, my Finnish friend, to nearby Boadilla.
The only team from Africa to make it through to the Last 16, Ghana who beat the USA.

Oli joined us and we finally decided on Las Tres Nueces where we could eat outside and Anne could enjoy local tapas. As we were leaving we were able to witness and enjoy an amazing firework display put on by the town hall to celebrate San Juan, Spain’s Mid Summer fiesta. Anne commented how in Finland fireworks are going out of fashion because they pollute the atmosphere and also because they are very costly something people don’t appreciate during the crisis. Apparently the modern alternative is laser. Anne who now works for a town hall herself (Salo in Finland) obviously knows what she is talking about and estimated that Boadilla had spent more than 100.000 euros on the display. She is possibly right but I have always enjoyed fireworks, probably from the celebration of Guy Fawkes in England every 5th November when I was a child in England, and wouldn’t like to see them disappear.

A firework display, just like the one we saw in Boadilla to celebrate San Juan
On Monday I was to say goodbye to Anne as I was rushing off to Valencia with Suzy to make sure everything was in order for this year’s Yoigo Summer Party which was to take place there on the Tuesday and Wednesday for some 200 people. I left Anne in good hands and knew my two men would take care of her till she left on Wednesday morning. Later I got a message to thank me for our hospitality and the chance to rest at Sanatorium Villa Freijo Lloyd, which is what she calls our humble abode. It was a pleasure darling.

We got to Valencia in the early evening, on time for a quick meeting with the hotel manager and Bea from our events agency. I then joined Suzy for half an hour on the beach which is all the time I managed to get there in the end which is a pity as the Hotel Sidi Saler sits right on the unspoiled Saler Beach.

The unspoilt Saler Beach where our hotel was at the Yoigo Mid Summer Party in Valencia this week.
Dinner was a slightly disappointing affair at La Rosa restaurant on the Malvarrosa beach in Valencia. Afterwards we walked on the promenade and had a look at the outdoor market which sold the usual rubbish you find in similar places all over the world. The anecdote of the night was when some boys mistook Susana for a gypsy which is probably because of her intense tan as well as the bun in her even more intensely red hair.  We were walking by the beach and along came 2 boys on bicycles and one shouted: "look, what a pretty gypsy girl" pointing at Susana which we found very amusing.

Suzy with her red hair in a bun and her tan was mistaken for a gypsy in Valencia this week!

The next day the Yoigo Mid Summer Party 2010 was to begin and we were expecting some 200 guests made up of employees and suppliers. On arrival they were greeted by a local band playing the famous song, Valencia Valencia. It was such a hoot. This was the programme:

The Yoigo Mid Summer Party programme.  Notice we had more than 20 sponsors who funded the event.
One of the highlights was a regatta of 22 sailing boats in the Pobla de Farnals port, some 12km from the city. For many people it was their first regatta and from the feedback I got and the happy faces I saw, this activity was well chosen.

The regatta at the Yoigo Mid Summer party this week.  There were 22 sailing boats.  It was very professional.

In the evening watching the Spain Portugal Last 16 match was a must for everyone, even though it meant having dinner past 10.30 p.m. We kitted everyone out in the Spanish red and yellow colours and even organised a bet at one euro per person. We were joined by local distributors from Valencia. Thus some 300 people dressed in red and yellow watched the match live outside on two big plasma screens.

It wasn’t till the second half that La Roja, as the Spanish team is often called, scored and it was a happy bunch of people who went into dinner after having witnessed Spain beat Portugal and go through to the Quarter Finals. Dinner which was an outdoor barbecue or rather the party afterwards was another highlight. As we were in Valencia I came up with the idea of doing a themed party based on the Moors and Christians festivals that take place in that area of Spain. To tell the truth there were more Moorish activities than Christian, such as: fire spectacle, henna dyeing, tarot card reading, Moroccan pipe smoking, an Arab style market, belly dancers etc.

Suzy and Lucía working at the Moors and Christians dinner during the Yoigo Mid Summer party this week. 
The next day there was a choice of staying in the hotel to recover from hangovers or enjoy the pool and beach or go to the famous Oceanografic in Valencia which is actually the biggest aquarium in Spain. I chose to stay behind, have a leisurely breakfast and read my emails. We were all to meet at a small wharf of the Albufera lake to take the traditional boats on a ride round the lake before landing at the Nou Raco restaurant which was to be the last activity of the 2 day Summer Party. You can easily guess what we ate here. Yes of course it was rice which is grown in the Albufera district and it was superb.

The traditional boats we went on in the Albufera lake on the last day of the Yoigo Mid Summer party in Valencia.
By the time we got home I was exhausted and as tradition has it, pretty hoarse too. I had worked on this project for months now. It was great and then it was over and the adrenaline leaves your body and you feel exhausted.  You can see the video of the whole event here as well as some of the photos.  The full collection is here on Flickr

I was exhausted but had to be up early the next day to attend a conference on telecommunications spectrum at Unidad Editorial, the group that comprises El Mundo, amongst other publications. There I was to see familiar faces from my Motorola and Nokia years. Luckily I was able to get away early and I spent the afternoon catching up on my work at a leisurely pace.

The Unidad Editorial publication house building where the spectrum conference took place on Thursday.
Friday was a great day in many ways. The girls and I did some quick girly shopping at Centro Oeste mostly at Zara, Friday’s Project and Cortefiel. The news there is that I actually bought a summer dress, a garment I haven’t worn for years and you know what? I love it. From there we drove to La Vaca Argentina restaurant to join Eladio and my Father for a celebration lunch. We were celebrating Suzy’s graduation, of course, but also my promotion at work.

The afternoon was spent by the pool and watching football and tennis. Holland was playing Brazil in the quarter finals and very surprisingly beat the favourites. They will now go through to play Uruguay in the semi finals. As I am writing, this Saturday evening, Germany already beat Argentina 4-0 in their quarter final. Now Spain has to beat Paraguay but if it does it will meet Germany in the semi final which is rather a daunting idea. We have to remember though that Spain is the reigning European champion and actually beat Germany in that final. So who knows?

Meanwhile Wimbledon, the most important tennis championship in the world which takes place at the All England lawn tennis club, was well into its second week. Federer the reigning champion was knocked out and yesterday Spain’s best loved tennis player, Rafael Nadal was to play the Scot Andy Murray. Even though the former is not at his peak he beat Murray in 3 straight sets. On Sunday he will play to win his second trophy at the All England Club. His opponent will be no knock over, to quote my Father. He will be playing Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic who beat Roger Federer earlier. On Sunday we look forward to yet another victory in Spanish sport.

This weekend has been dominated by sport. Today was also the start of the Tour de France. I used to be a great fan of cycling thanks to my involvement in the sport when I worked for Motorola. The Tour started today in Rotterdam in Holland and I could not help thinking what that must have meant for my good friend Hennie Kuiper, a Dutch cycling legend who used to be the Motorola Cycling Team coach. Hennie is a wonderful modest gentleman, in the true sense of the word and a sports legend in Holland.  He has an Olympic gold medal in cycling and came second in the Tour de France twice. He also won the Alpe D’Huez stage twice and was the world professional road race champion in 1975. I would have loved to be there today enjoying the start with Hennie.

Hennie Kuiper, the Dutch cycling legend who was the Motorola Cycling Team coach.  It was a privilege to be his friend.
But no I could not be there. Instead I went somewhere nearer with Eladio this morning, to the Majadahonda market to change some shorts I had bought him there last week with Anne. I also took the opportunity to buy myself a pair of Abarca sandals handmade in Menorca like the ones I had bought him last week. I must say they are extremely comfortable. Made in the Balearic Islands, which is where the Spanish Royal family spend their vacation, they have, in a way, made these sandals popular in the peninsula. In the summer you often see the King and Prince Felipe in this type of footwear.

Abarca sandals handmade in Menorca as worn by the King of Spain.  I bought some for Eladio and myself in white at the Majadahonda market.
And that my friends, is more or less it for this week. I must rush to cheer on Spain in the vital quarter final match against Paraguay now. When I write again next week the World Cup 2010 will be over and who will be the champion? It could be any of the following: Spain, Uruguay, Paraguay, Holland or Germany.

Cheers till next week

PS Just after I published this blog post yesterday, Spain beat Paraguay in the Quarter Finals. David Villa scored his 5th goal of the tournament and thanks to this Spain will play its first semi final ever in the world cup and meet a very strong Germany on Wednesday.  May the best team win.

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