Monthly Archives: September 2011

Talk about a warm welcome to Logroño…


Second week in Spain, and our town holds a festival the likes of which I have never seen in my life: Festival de San Mateo, the grape/wine harvest festival of the La Rioja region. Wild crowds, constant music and noise, everyone in celebration mode and of course, lots of vino.

Thanks for the warm welcome, Logroño!!!


Los ángeles de Nalda…(the angels of Nalda)


So I mentioned in my previous post that I’d go into more detail about the experiences we’ve had people of Nalda, the pueblito (small town) where we are staying for the time being.

I guess I’ll start with the first night: after our first full day in Spain came to a close, two tired and slightly overwhelmed travelers (well, me in particular) ventured into town from the cottage we were staying in about 10 minutes outside of town. Newly arrived in Spain and therefore unaccustomed to mealtimes, we though we might still be able to catch tapas at that hour of the night, (as we found,  in smaller towns, food isn’t accessible as late as in the cities, where one can often snag tapas as late as 11:30 or 12). We asked a bartender if he knew of any place that was still serving food and he went outside to ask around…to our surprise, he came back with an older woman who motioned for us to follow her. Soon we were joined by her daughter, and to our utter delight, we were led to a little shop (obviously closed) that they owned and opened up especially for us and made us bocadillos (sandwiches). Feverishly thanking them for their kindness, we walked back to the bar to order some vino to drink with them, only to have half of a bottle bought for us by another wonderfully nice older man. “Te invito a Nalda,” he said warmly. (You’re invited, or welcome to Nalda) We spent the rest of the night marveling at the incredible hospitality of the people of this town that was showered on us so undeservedly. All we could do was acknowledge as the wonderful heaven-sent gift that it was (I don’t think it was a coincidence that the woman who helped us had the last name “Angeles”), and thank everyone profusely.

To our continued amazement, the kindness and warm welcome from the people of Nalda did not stop there. The next day, when several of us came to the town to do some hiking in the nearby caves, we realized we came too late for lunch. After asking a few people if there was anything around that might be open (again) we resorted to wandering around town for ourselves to check things out. Out of nowhere, the city maintenance man offered to give us a ride to a nearby restaurant that would have been walkable, but was still a bit of a hike (a favor much appreciated because of the hot weather).

That evening, while sitting outside a small bar enjoying a glass of wine and the beautiful night air, we had wonderful conversation with some of the older ladies (who have now become friends), a tradition that we have continued to uphold every evening we are in town. From suggesting places to eat, to helping us take the right bus to the city, to treating us to new foods, the things they did were small; but it was the fact that they did them even though they didn’t know us at all—we were just these strange Americans that suddenly appeared in their town. They are some of the the most charming, kind, warm people we have ever met and we are so incredibly blessed to know them.

I hope someday I can return the kindness to a traveler someday.

Cuando en España…(When in Spain)


(Picture above: This is our little town of Nalda!  ¡Que bonita!)

¡Hola todos!

So we’re in Spain. I know, absolutely crazy. There is so much to say about what’s happened in the last 4 or 5 days, that I may have to gloss over a few details (I’m sure you’re crying about that right now, missing out on a 16 page blog post and all).

But I’ll try and give you a brief(ish) rundown.

The trip itself: flights to Houston, D.C., Madrid were uneventful & smooth, if almost completely sans sleep. Figured out how to get to the right section of the airport that would get us to the shuttle that would get us to the terminal we needed to get to in order to get on the right bus. Had a wonderful friend who met us in Logroño, and let us crash at his place/shower/put down our enormous suitcases.

Last few days:

-Trying to drastically, rapidly improve my Spanish (it’s a slower process than I’d like, but I am improving nonetheless. Jake on the other hand, is able to speak pretty fluently,  though his poor hearing sometimes distracts from his understanding of some of the faster speakers. So with my good ears, we make a good team, jaja). We’re in an area where there is much less tourism, so English speakers (outside of internationally studying students, and only in the city for the most part) are nearly non-existent. It’s both a bit challenging and excellent learning environment at the same time, so I can’t complain much.

-Learning the bus system from Nalda (a small pueblo where Jake and I are currently staying) to Logroño.

-Adjusting to the very different mealtime schedule and attempting not to always end up looking for food during siesta time (2-5 p.m.) or post tapas-serving time (which is much earlier in smaller towns than cities).

-Drinking the marvelously delicious (and blissfully cheap) wine that one can purchase for as little as 2 euro a bottle.

-Being awestruck by the breath-taking landscape of the Rioja region (think Glenwood Canyon, Colorado without the really high mountains…but with the gorgeous cliffs, craggy hillsides, & plateaus with lush, forested areas mixed with vineyards).

-Enjoying our first tastes of Spanish cusine… jamón (a delightful cured Spanish ham), various delicious tapas, tortillas (not like ones back home, but more like a potato omelet), chorizo (sausage), fresh fruits and veggies (some brand new & some we’ve seen before), yummy little deli bocadillos (sandwiches) and lots more. Hopefully even more to come!

-Last, marveling at the incredible, unending kindnesss/helpfulness/hospitality of  the people in Spain, but especially our little town of Nalda. I’ll explain in another post. The people we’ve met are truly angels, gifts from God.

Hope that helps you understand a bit of what we’ve experienced so far….and around here, people rarely say goodbye, just “hasta luego” (see you later). So…hasta luego!

To adventurous chaos, a little risk and a smattering of trust that it will all fall into place. ¡Salud!


In honor of my countdown dwindling to single digits (9!!), I thought I’d throw down a quick little post for you.

(Almost everyone I’ve talked to about leaving lately…we’ll call them Person A) “So where are you living?”

(Me) “Not really sure.” 

(Person A) “Oh wow, I’d be freaking out if I was going to another country and had no idea where I was going to live for the next 9 months..”

(Me) Awkward silence. Mild involuntary internal moment of panic. (Mental conversation: Should I be freaking out right now? I should probably be more freaked out. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh… Wait–no.)

(Me) “Meh! We’ll figure something out.”

(Person A) Incredulous look attempted to resemble confidence; vague thoughts of “Oh my goodness this girl is crazy”

So yeah…the issue of living arrangements is one of many unknowns that I’ll be addressing once I get to Spain. Along with: my work schedule, how to go about establishing a Spanish bank account; how to get a temporary residence card (NIE); how I’m getting from home to school to school every day; what to do when I’m kind of majorly lost with my not-quite-awesome Spanish ability in addition to adjusting to the Castellano accent; and a host of other unknowns that haven’t even occurred to me. Am I going to do every amount of preparing and looking up to figure these out to the best of my ability? Yes. Am I still going to run into things I’ll have no idea how to handle? Also yes. And yet? Still surprisingly chill. I might seen a little insane in the membrane for being so nonchalant about this, but…hey, what’s travel (and life, for that matter) without having to think on your feet? 🙂

So here’s to adventurous chaos,  a little risk and a smattering of trust that it will all fall into place. ¡Salud!