Month: December 2011

I have no idea what you said, but cheers!

I’ve lived in La Rioja for almost 3 months now, and I’ve only visited 1 bodega (winery). It was really no big deal, I just got to go in a tub of grapes and smash them with my feet. There’s a phrase in Spanish “hay que aprovechar….” which means you have to take advantage of/ use the opportunities to enjoy what’s around you. For example hay que aprovechar las bodegas, las oportunidades de hablar castellano, etc.

It doesn’t work so well in English though because one of my students was telling me a recipe and at the end she said, “take advantage of it!” Maybe some people take advantage of their food…but usually we just enjoy it.

I think once you’ve seen one bodega, you get the point- they have cellars, barrels, history, tastings (mmmm). So why the need to go to all of them? Hay que aprovechar, hombre!

There are a few right here in Logrono, but some of the most famous wineries in the world, are less than an hour away.

My friends and I made a reservation to go see the Muga bodega in Haro.

and the Dinastia Vivanco bodega and wine museum in Briones.

Maybe some of you back in the U.S.A have seen these brands at the store, or maybe not, but they are incredible. They both began as simple family run businesses and have grown to incredible popularity and fame.

At least that’s what I understood from the tour, because honestly I didn’t understand a lot. Spanish speaking tours are fine, and I can catch on most of the words of a fast talking guide, but wine and the process of making wine is something I don’t know in English. I grasped the amount of time certain wines need to stay in the barrels, but not the whole oxidation, transferring barrels, making barrels part….

There is some vocabulary I can’t even remember to look up, but there are words that are good to know. This website has a lot, and there are a few extra words that I think are important that I didn’t see on there.

Hongos: fungus

Vid: Vine (not “vida” spelled wrong)

Vinoteca/ Vinacoteca: collection of wines (not a wine filled discoteca..or maybe?)

Salud: cheers!

Outside of Muga in Haro


huge barrels (barricas)

me and some crianza barrels

the making of a barrel is intense work

la cata, salud!

The Muga tasting was great because we got to keep our glasses and they say Muga on them. We also got little wine bottle bags. After having about 3 tastes, we needed to get some food in our system, so of course we found some pintxos in Haro. Que rico!

My favorite- no idea how to describe it.

works of art

After we ate we headed towards Briones.

Going to the Dinastia Vivanco bodega and museum

Briones, kind of an eye sore


The vines

The tasting in the cellar, underneath the vines


I thought for the second tour I’d be ready for all the wine vocabulary, but it wasn’t any easier. I ended up spacing out and taking pictures, so I still had a great time. The Museum was the highlight. There is so much beautiful artwork, and it lets you further soak in the whole process that goes into making fabulous wine. It starts with the vine, how you cultivate and harvest it, and then the importance of the barrel, and the wood, blowing the glass for the bottles, the precise temperatures, and the list goes on. The museum was also a huge shout out to Bacchus. Unfortunately you can no longer have a museum dedicated to you for being drunk and prancing around with nymphs because he already did it. It’s good to be the first.

The history of wine was never something I thought about when I was drinking a tinto on calle Laurel, and I doubt that i’ll think about it now because I have a lot of other things to think about…. but I’m glad that I learned some new things, because as a future teacher, and lifetime nerd I love learning.

I hope all you nerds reading learned some words as well.

besos, y salud!

winter's coming, stay warm!


Me vuelvas loca!

Last week I was sick. Just allergies, nothing major. Allergies tend to impede professions that require a lot of speaking though; such as teaching. So one day after I coughed in front of my students and one yelled “your eyes are crying!” I decided I should go to the doctor.

I got out my little medical directory that we received with our healthcare cards, and started looking up places close to my piso. Turns out there is an allergologist (?) but they are only open Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-7 . How Spanish of them.

Once I settled on a place, I searched it on, and the yellow pages just to be sure about the number and location. You’d think by merely living in Spain, my Spanish by now would be awesome- however, 4 days a week I have to pretend I don’t know Spanish at all. So sometimes I still feel thrust into Spanish speaking mode; especially on the phone? Well this woman talked FAST. So typically the easy part is saying your name. Alas, my name is not Alejandra Gomez Rodriguez, or Inez Vaquero Ramirez. Spelling Campbell and explaining yes there is a P and a B. P like PAMPLONA?! SI!

B and V also sound exactly alike to me in Spanish, so i’m sure that went over well. Then it turns out I had called some emergency hotline or some health program that I’m not a part of because she couldn’t find me. I was like yeah, I know, it’s my first appointment?

She told me that I drove her crazy (me vuelvas loca!), said vale a few times, and I hung up really fast. Turns out someone was filming me while this happened.

I’m getting a haircut on Friday, and all I know is that dread locks take more than one appointment to make and that’s the worst thing I can think of happening.


Worth the sweat

I got my official residence card yesterday (TIE).

I walked into the office and they pointed me in the direction of an open room, I handed my passport and N.I.E to an old man, and he handed me a bent piece of plastic with my picture and sweaty thumbprint on it that had been sitting in a cardboard box for an unknown amount of time.  The process to get to that point leaked my body of sweat and tears. Actually, I have an endless supply of sweat in my palms/fingers according to the FBI, but look at me now suckers.

semi glass eye look happening

That photo actually turned out pretty well considering I took it laying down in a photo booth since I couldn’t figure out how to roll the chair down so that the picture wasn’t of  only my neck/chest area. It turned out to be the wrong size photo anyways, but luckily the man working that day was friendly- less stressful than being at the DMV for sure.


Well, looks like it’s siesta time. Must cure this lil cold I seem to have gotten. I blame the rain in Burgos.



Also, feel free to take this cool poll I figured out how to make. I will seriously take comments and results into consideration.

Santo Domingo

When I think of the word Medieval here’s what comes to mind:

  • Role play (that McLovin kid in the movie Role Models)
  • Not showering
  • Velvet
  • Jousting
  • Religion
  • Some of my favorite Spanish Literature

If my friends suggested going to a Medieval fair around Chicago, I would die laughing. Then if they were serious, I would feel bad…and consider going, with the promise of drinking wine out of the holy grail. But in Spain, on a holiday, por que no?!

This is how I ended up on another day trip outside of Logrono to Santo Domingo. I didn’t really feel well when I woke up, but I didn’t want to just stay at home. I knew it was meant to be when I walked out of my piso feeling gross and a nice old man with 3 teeth pronounced “guapa! muy guapa!” Off to a great start.

When we saw these flags (below) from the bus we knew we made it to the right place. Walking through the busy streets was not anymore frustrating than a typical day walking behind someone in Spain (slow). There were various stands of herbs, leather, utensils, incense, pintxos, wine (duh), scarves, olives, pastries, and birds (yup). Here’s a little taste….

dejar de fumar in Spain? comical

There's always a beautiful cathedral.

A medieval wedding/show

queso de oveja, choizo, mmmm.


sexy chocolates, and other interesting flavors.

frying little pumpkins.

After we watched the “show” and ate some dope sausage stuffed in a roll of bread (mmmm), we saw some little burritos (not from chipotle) taking ninos on rides through the town. It was precious. Then I remembered how my sister and I used to get rejected from those kinds of “rides” because we were too tall, thus probably older/heavier. Meanwhile some short fat kid is merrily bouncing around making the poor animals knees quiver and buckle. It’s okay though. I’ve moved on, and am still living life happily as a tall person.

hola burrito

Once all the stands started looking pretty much the same, it was time to go wait for the bus. There’s no station, so you just kinda wait around where it looks like it might have dropped you off and you just buy the ticket from the bus driver.

I realized once I got home that I had walked through Logrono with a red feather stuck in my ponytail. This was because I requested that my pastry from that afternoon come with a feather like I was a child. I have gotten so used to people looking at me though, so I didn’t realize there might be an actual reason this time. Gotta be careful about that from now on….

un beso