I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting very often!! With just a few weeks of work under my belt I have been coming home and passing out very early almost every night. However, once I get used to the new schedule, I promise I’ll be able to keep up with blogging even better than usual!
To add to the lack of time for blogging, last Tuesday & Wednesday were public holidays here in Madrid. My four friends and I took these days off as an opportunity to plan a spur of the moment roadtrip to Spanish wine country. La Rioja is about a three and a half hour drive from Madrid. We picked up a car Monday afternoon and to our very pleasant surprise were given a white Audi A4 for the price of the four-door automatic car we had rented, since they had all already been picked up.
We stopped in Burgos for a yummy 7 euro dinner of traditional tapas (including blood pudding), red wine, salad & complimentary honey liquor, as well as to check out the famous cathedral there where El Cid is supposedly buried. After that we headed to a bed & breakfast in Navarette, a small town about 10 kilometers outside of Logroño, the most commonly visited city in the region.
We headed over to a bar across the street for breakfast. A few confusing encounters in bars, a piece of tortilla and a cup of black tea later, and we were on our way. Our first stop was Laguardia, a small town on the top of a hill and also a former fifteenth century fortress. We enjoyed the beautiful views of the vineyards before settling on our first wine tasting. We took a tour of a family-owned winery, very typical of the town. Because Laguardia used to be a fortress, there are small basements in the bottom of nearly every building, which were used to hide food, water, etc. if need be. However, now they are used for wine cellars, wine-making, restaurants, bars or as part of personal homes. We got to see how the Carlos San Pedro Bodega makes their wine and also got to taste a glass before it goes into the final step of its aging in the bottle. I’m really glad we started our trip at such a small scale winery because it was so cool to see the differences between this and the other ones we got to visit. After the tasting we enjoyed some Basque Country pinchos before continuing on our way.
Next we stopped at Marques de Riscal, a fairly well-known winery in another small town, Elciego. We took a tour of the new state-of-the-art winery, the older one and the storage rooms. There were barrels upon barrels of wine, and they even have a huge storage area with bottles that they have saved from every year’s harvest. We also got to see the hotel at the vineyard, which was designed by Frank Gehry, the arquitect that designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. We enjoyed a glass of red and a glass of white and then headed into Logroño to explore a famous tapas street there, Calle del Laurel. Each bar had their own specialty, which was the only dish that some of them made, ranging from pineapple shrimp kebabs to sautéed mushrooms.
Wednesday morning we woke up bright & early, packed our things and got back in the car to head to a reservation we had made the day before for another tour! We toured the Dinastia Vivanco Bodega and also checked out the Wine Culture museum, which is supposed to be the most interesting one in the region. It was really cool to see all different things about the history and culture of wine-making though, and I’m definitely glad that we got to see it.
After the Dinastia Vivanco, we started heading home, but stopped in the capital city of the region, Haro, for lunch. We had heard great things about Haro being a cute and fun small city to visit, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to our expectations. Our experience wasn’t as crazy as the last stop we made on our way home from Sevilla in December (remember the Trujillo story?), but it certainly made us bring that up again. We had a delicious menu del dia, but could not even finish a bottle of wine between the five of us, having drank far too many glasses of tastings in the past 48 hours.
All in all it was a really great weekend two days off in the middle of the week! In between stopping at all of the vineyards we had a great time driving around the countryside and listening to awesome cds that Gabby, Lauren & Jackie had made for the trip. Going to wine country for two days in the middle of the week with four of my best friends is definitely something I am going to miss when I go back home to the US. Everyone always says that since I’m here, I have to take advantage of all of the cool things to do, but this experience has made me realize that you can do that anywhere… no matter where you’re living!
Hope everything is going great with you all and maybe this will inspire you to go exploring this weekend! Animo, amores:)