When You Take the Spaniard Out of Spain…

…What happens? Good question! It’s been over a year now that we’ve been back in the U.S. It feels like a long time ago—and yet not so long after—that we packed our bags, said farewell to Madrid, and hopped on that Iberia flight. In fact, we were back last October to celebrate my brother-in-law’s wedding, held at a lovely vineyard outside of Toro. (If you know Spanish wine, you’ll know Toro.)12072657_1079134052119176_3561953440773035576_n.jpg12079607_1079133222119259_5287088477159378538_n.jpg

It was a whirlwind visit, leaving on a Tuesday and coming home on Monday (or something like that, my memory’s a bit of a blur), but it was wonderful to have our families reunited again. And, of course, there was a bit of wine, a bit of cheese, and lots of wine to wash it all down.


As for life in the U.S.? Mario’s certainly loving his new job as a paralegal; it’s all the lawer-y stuff without the stress of, you know, being an actual lawyer. He gets fun perks like open-bar office Christmas parties, tickets to the Indianapolis Colts preseason games (a suite!), and dinners with clients from time to time in one of Indy’s hip downtown neighborhoods.

Me? I’m back at school, earning my teaching license so I can continue to work with the little ones. Teaching was not always where I thought I would end up, but turns out that 1) I love it, and 2) I’m pretty good at it.

I’m going to try to update you on more things about our lives, because I just miss sharing from time to time, and who knows, maybe someone out there is still reading.

For more frequent updates, check out my Instagram or Twitter, and please email me if you have any visa questions, because I’VE BEEN THERE. I can help. In the meantime, here are some more photos from the past, I dunno, year.

12311217_1104834589549122_2608573002887634341_n.jpgMy birthday in Colorado

11219211_10204866573890883_3551021181150555088_n.jpgTrying to hang with college kids at IU

13239899_751658045441_5869220025959680603_n.jpgMy beloved alma mater

13226834_10205995948684547_3516197461533359556_n.jpgFriends drinking beer13001331_746465805731_3787332545559420883_n.jpg13043658_746465750841_5760597765504128516_n.jpgMario ran his first-half marathon in the U.S. in 1:29

See you soon (I hope)!

Hotel Posada del Valle in Asturias, Spain

Recently we went to Asturias, and we were looking for somewhere to stay. I found this hotel by happenstance, as someone tweeted a link to a New York Times article about it. They said it was like you were living in a cloud, and I thought, Okay. We’re going. I mean, who doesn’t want to live on a cloud?

We drove there from a nearby village, Ribadesella. At first I thought I had made some terrible mistake, as the roads were tortuous and there was a steep drop off to the valley far, far below. When we got there, it was nighttime, pitch black and with very little lights, as we were in the middle of nowhere. (Basically.) The driveway that lead down to the house was also a huge hill, and I was a bit apprehensive about driving down that hill, even if I wasn’t the one driving. But sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and so we did.

This hotel, which cost a total of €60 for one night, was the loveliest place I’ve stayed in. Seriously. 100% the best place. It’s run by a British expat couple, who (I think) live nearby. It’s on an 18-acre organic farm with animals and such, including the sheep native to Asturias, the xalda sheep. They are interesting.

Oveja Xalda


The building was originally a priest’s farmhouse and was constructed in the 19th century. The owners bought it in 1995 and converted it into what it is today. Downstairs there’s a small bar area and a fireplace. The owners, Nigel and Joan, have written up walking routes that can take you all over the region, with varying levels of difficulty and time. They always point out the best place to get refreshments if need be!

The hotel has a restaurant, in which they serve local, organic food and wine. The menu changes daily. We chose to have dinner at the restaurant. On that day’s menu was a salad bar, a carrot-ginger soup, and a choice of a vegetarian or non-vegetarian entrée. I chose the vegetarian, which was a moussaka, and Mario got the roasted red peppers stuffed with hake (merluza). We ordered an organic white wine, and soon realized that the other two couples were British! It seems that this is a popular hotel choice for British people, which makes sense, as there aren’t as many English speakers deep in the heart of Asturias as there are in the big cities and on the coast.

After dinner, we relaxed with a copa on the terrace. Nigel set us up with a candle and offered us a blanket. It was wonderful to see the stars, as in Madrid the light pollution makes this impossible. There was very little going on, but it was the most peaceful night.

The next morning at breakfast was no different. In Spain, it’s common to have a pretty delicious breakfast spread. (Do not talk to me about U.S. hotels and their “continental” breakfasts.) Hotel Posada del Valle had the highest-quality breakfast I’ve had in Spain. There was the organic apple juice, made from apples picked nearby. We enjoyed two types of homemade bread with honey and butter. There was muffins made from various fruits, including kiwi, which I found delightful. And as we breakfasted, we saw the mist in the valley slowly rise to the mountaintop. The saying goes, “Niebla en el valle montañero a la calle; niebla en la cumbre montañero a la lumbre.” (Fog in the valley, mountaineer hit the road; fog at the summit, mountaineer stay at home by the fire.) It was a good day to be climbing! We had other plans, but we stopped to take some photos of the place.


If you go to Asturias with a car, consider staying here, especially in the off season. You can’t beat the prices or the surroundings!

Collía, Arriondas, 33549 Asturias Spain
Telephone: 00 34 985 84 11 57

Ever been to Asturias? What was your favorite place?

Un Tinto, Un Toro—Toro’s Wine Festival

Wine from Toro's Wine Festival

Did I ever mention to you that one time I (along with three others) won 30 bottles of wine at the Toro Wine Festival?

Wine from Toro's Wine FestivalUh yeah, that’s all ours

I’m a big fan of Toro wine, as you may have guessed. Toro is a small town located in the Zamora province, and its wine is divine! (Sorry for that random rhyming. Really, so sorry.) It’s not as well known as Ribera del Duero (another favorite) or Rioja, but the wines from Toro are some of my favorites, perhaps because I’ve had the chance to try so many of them. In fact, I know way more about Toro wine than any wine in the U.S.!

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Exploring Vinos de Madrid with Madrid Food Tour

This past Tuesday, I participated in a wine tasting with Madrid Food Tour held at De Vinos. (Rough life, am I right?) Madrid Food Tour was founded by Lauren Aloise with the goal of showcasing all of Madrid’s gastronomical delights, with a bit of history added in to keep things interesting. They have several different types of tours, all of which you can book through their website.

On Tuesday, however, they hosted their first midweek wine tasting, led by James Blick. James knows a lot about wines, and I was excited to learn more about a relatively unknown region—Madrid. As James told us, up until 1990, such wine was sold a granel (“in bulk”). However, that year Madrid’s denominación de origen, or protected designation of origin, was established. Actually, as he explained to us, Madrid is basically made up of three subzones: Arganda del Rey, Navalcarnero, and San Martín de Valdeiglesias. The  majority of these wines are young and rosés, although there are some excellent red wines to be had (as we would find out).

Wine 1: Blanco Brut Nature by Bodegas Jesús Díaz


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