Go into any bar in Madrid and ask for a glass of (red) wine, and they’ll likely give you an option: Rioja or Ribera del Duero? If it’s a wine bar, they’ll likely have other options, but most of the time you’re going to be offered one of these two Denominaciones de Origen, or Designations of Origin. But Spain’s wine selection goes way beyond these two regions to include ones like Valdepeñas, Somontano, Jumilla, and even Madrid. Today, I want to talk about my favorite region:
Two weeks ago, I got the chance to visit my favorite bodega (winery), Bodegas Elias Mora. Thanks to my friend Ángela, who’s the owner/operator’s niece, I felt comfortable enough to attend the Festinto 2012, even though it was technically open to the public. I did learn one thing, though: when they say the party starts at 9, don’t get there until 10, or someone will say to you, “I don’t know who you are.” Don’t be on time, did you hear me?
Oh well, if we’d arrived later, we wouldn’t have gotten as good of photos.
Hello, all. I’ve taken a bit of a social media hiatus, however lame that may seem. I mean, I still got on Facebook and Twitter; I just merely glanced at them. I’ve been occupied, you see … in my adopted hometown of Zamora.
The past weekend included great lunches by Mario’s mother (the best cook in Spain, obviously), running along the Río Duero, Elías Mora wine, wedding dress shopping (!), tapas, and attending a first communion. Totally normal. (Not really. Spain, I’m back!) Spain is wonderful in May; I highly recommend it. My Zamoran abuelitos are out in full force, and it’s all I can do not to pretend to be a jounalist so I can snap their photos.
My days now will be filled with running, wedding planning, great food, sunshine (I hope), tapas, cheap delicious wine, learning photography, and enjoying life with Mario to the fullest.
Have you ever met someone who’s profoundly affected you and then lost contact? Of course you have; we all have. But there are probably dozens more people that—after all’s said and done—ended up as not-that-important. You know, the person you meet on the train or the airplane and have a fun conversation with, but soon forget about, except for every once in a while when you think, Hmm, I wonder what happened to her.
In Spain, I’ve had loads of those sorts of encounters:
- The Korean lady who ran an alimentación shop in Toledo. Study abroad isn’t really about studying, in case you haven’t heard. Inside the walls of Toledo, there wasn’t even a Carrefour or Eroski, so we did all our late-night shopping there, buying liters of Mahou or boxes of Don Simón sangría.
- Pablo, a Spaniard, who studied in Cologne. Pablo chose la Fundación José Ortega y Gasset (which we affectionately referred to as “The Fund,” pronounced with the long Spanish “u”) to stay during a vacation. I can’t even remember why anymore. We lived in a renovated convent, and, while it was located in a rather idyllic place, it was still a dorm. We talked about politics (why we had reelected George Bush and whether Obama would be elected), Spanish food, and studying. I don’t remember much else.
A view from my room.
My first intercambio, Carlos. We were a true intercambio—we spoke one hour in English and one in Spanish. Always. He gave me my first insights into the true Spain, not just the idealized version I had read about in books.
My Spanish teacher in Salamanca. I can’t remember her name anymore. She at first thought I was horrific at Spanish, but soon realized I am just shy. She finally coaxed it out of me. When she heard I was dating a Spaniard, she told me, “¡Qué bien! Es la mejor manera de aprender un idioma.” Or something like that. I finished my classes with her and never saw her again, except once—through a window. She smiled knowingly, the kind of smile where you realize you don’t have much to say to the other person, but you had indeed shared something.
The waiters at this certain bar in Zamora. It was close to my house, comfortable, and free wifi. (Remember, in Spain it’s pronounced wee-fee.) I would usually head there in the late evening, grab una copa de Elías Mora
for the ridiculously good price of 2€, and settle down for a nice Skype date (but maybe not as often as my mother would have liked).
People come and go; I’ve come and gone from several different places. We all change, and in some ways we all stay the same. I’m still me, after all. It’s jarring to think of these people, people I laughed with, ate with, talked with … existing somewhere out there without me. They live and go on. So do I.
Do you have these sorts of people in—well, out of—your life?