Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A homage to a great 2013

If I want to have this post ready by the end of the year, I better start working on it now. Still, so many things have happened over the last 12 months, that it will be difficult to accurately collect them, so I will try to just walk you along the most important events.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Erin made a comment that made me stop and think. It had to do with what a different situation I was living compared to last year, and being this absolutely true, I suddenly realised all the things that had taken place in my life.

I will go back to December 2012, spending my "life-changing" Christmas at home. Without a festive spirit and after too many sleepless nights, it was a quiet Christmas. I definitely did not have the energy to meet with friends and my mood was not in line with the season and I did not want to mirror everyone's spirit to mine, so I spent the week at home and after Christmas, I delivered the news to my family that I was going to quit my job and leave Germany, after seven years.

The news was taken in in various ways, but, with the exception of my mother, non of them were thrilled. Most thought I had lost my mind and others were... respectful.

Time to fly back to my seven-year home and start the count down.

The first three months of 2013 went by fast (like the remaining nine), lots of things needed to be done to prepare my move out, resignation, various notices, de-registrations and lots of things at work that I wanted to finalise before taking off. Hectic times but my mood was on its best, and with high spirits, no task seems too tedious. By the end of the thee month period notice, I packed my things, left my apartment and celebrated my farewell-birthday feeling my happiest. Before leaving a five day trip to the Mosel with my dear friend and then, off to London to start the training for my "new career life" (to be).

Mid April I spent two weeks of thorough study (probably the most intensive ones of my life) and thankfully, successfully passed the Advanced Level 3 in Wines and Spirits, but that I would not know before eight weeks had passed). Back to Germany for a week to do some further paperwork and say some difficult farewells. Despite my mood being jolly, saying goodbye was not fun.

Last week of April, time to get in the car and drive away from my up-to-then life and get acquainted with my uncertain and minute changing present. Since then, that is basically what I have been doing: living every present moment, without looking back, and not adventuring myself too much into the future. Must say that living this way, has reported some of the most pleasurable and happy moments of my life. Living the "hoy".

As you know, my first stop was Peter's home in Antwerp, were I had the time and the best amicable and soothing host who greatly helped me getting used to the new situation. Muchas gracias, amigo.

The following month transcurred between secondary roads and wine estates, learning, seeing and tasting the terroir. Unforgettable memories and extraordinary moment lived out of causality, or not (you decide in what you believe). And great wine! 

Time to arrive to my new~old home and get used to my new~old life and thank goodness for the good~old friends and family. The thought of the following six weeks, makes me dizzy. It was non-stop. Too many things needed to be sorted out, paperwork needed to be taken care of. The closing down of the first three months of the year in Frankfurt, now needed to be opened up in Ourense. 

So between registrations, car importing, painters, kitchen fitting and furniture delivery, my first, and so expected visitor, arrived. It was so good to see Erin again, she made me forget about the craziness of the move and for one whole week just enjoyed my very dear friend. I wanted to show her everything, of course it was impossible, so "tut mir leid" my dearest Erin, you will have to visit again. Looking forward to that.

By the time we realised the week had gone by (way too fast) and it was her time to fly out and Peter's turn to fly in. The beautiful, warm, sunny, rainless summer was pleasantly enjoyed with my friends visiting and while getting my life organised. 

The autumn made its way and it was time to sit down and plan the next steps. Meeting with my business partner to be each day for two weeks, was a challenging and satisfactory way to brainstorm through October. Decision making time regarding the name, the scope, the way forward... was as exhausting as it was rewarding. With the bases laid down and with a clearer idea of how it should be, time to concentrate on my studies for the following year, or two.

Next summer will be time for the business plan aiming to start with the business activity in about a year time. To be continued...

On the personal plan I am extremely satisfied with this year. It has given me so many personal challenges, that when I look back the balance is absolutely positive, feeling quite proud of how I have approached and handled them. I guess at times one must go through difficult periods to find out our inner strength to confront adversity, gaining in self confidence and getting the energy load needed to continue the path. 

Being happy to be back home, feeling for the first time that family is not overrated, that it is important to not leave the ones we love and care for "on hold", and that there is no job as well paid or challenging, that makes up for it, because, at the end of the day, we are tired of listening how it will not be our employer who will look after us, and in all honesty, why should he? Luckily it is never too late to realise that too often our priorities are not well defined and that we give the best of ourselves and our lives to those who just pay for a service. 

Yes, 2013 has definitely been one of my best years ever. I have finally understood the importance of living and fully appreciating the moment, because every one one of them is unrepeatable. We are given the freedom to choose and not making use of that freedom, is a real pity. 

I am sure I will find a way to make a living, but I am extremely happy to have finally found the way to live my life.

In Vino Veritas; Carpe Diem.

This post is dedicated to all of you who have been part of this amazing year. Thank you for your support, for your friendship, for your faith in me, for being there and for being part of my life. 

Best wishes for 2014 and may we all have the strength to materialise our dreams. 


Saturday, 12 October 2013

"The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."

It is the third time I start this post, however; I fear that no matter what I write, I will not do fair justice to the person it is dedicated to.

Here we go again, and please do forgive my lack of coherence, but this is a tough one and since the person it is dedicated to, has been a source of inspiration for the last 20 years, he well deserves a place of honour in my blog.

Dear Antonio,

I woke up this morning with the awaited, but still devastating news of your death.

Life, and death, are a funny thing, we give then for granted, because they are only a breath away, but logic is not of great help when it comes to accepting the fact about those we love.

It has been a long, nourishing friendship, that turned out to be a very special one.

I remember when I made it to the last test for the recruitment process, the personal interview with the General Manager, the person who would become my boss in case of being the chosen one. That is the first memory I have of you.

I was 21, unexperienced, nervous and trying to project a very mature, self confident image of myself. I got the job!

From that moment on, and for the next four years, our working relationship was full of challenges, improvisation, hard work, milestones and disagreements. God, you were a stubborn man! (and I was bold and inexperienced ), but you had all my admiration.

We were a good team. We all were. Those were the golden years of my newly discovered adult life as a responsible worker.

You were a good leader, and a great teacher. You helped me, by pushing me to the limit, at times, to discover my skills and my strengths, and I became your shadow. You just had to look up, and I would be there, efficient and happy to help.

I did hate you at times, no worries. Two strong personalities confronted on a daily basis made us argue with vehemence, but you knew how to turn the argument into a good laugh, and constructive discussions would always follow.

We had good, enriching conversations, but I would say, it was after you left and you were no longer my boss, that our relationship changed and we became friends.

Now I look back, and realising that 20 years have passed, it seems a lot, but our friendship has always been fresh, youthful and full of love, respect and mutual admiration.

Many things have happened since then, but throughout the years you have always been there, as a source of inspiration and admiration. We have discussed from important matters to little silly things, but we have had fun.

Yes, today I am sad. Very sad. I will miss you dearly, I will miss talking and getting that kick in my self-esteem that you knew very well how to give me.

I have realised that it is often the case I quote you. I use the wise words you have presented me over the years, and when I think of you, inevitably, my face brightens up in a genuine smile.

One of the biggest lessons you ever gave me was once you wanted me to do something, and I said I could not do it. "Have you tried doing it before?", you asked.  "No, never", I replied. "So how do you know you cannot do it if you have never tried?". That one is still nowadays one of my life mottos, and you can be sure, I always try, and must of the times, succeed. ;)

My dear Toñito, you live in my heart and my thoughts.

& you owe me a coffee.

With all my love and admiration,

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Entre copas

The title of this entry is "Entre copas", although it really has nothing to do nor it is inspired by the film I have not yet watched, but I guess it is between glasses that my most memorable life experiences take place.

The day started out covered with clouds and the temperatures have dropped way to many degrees. I am just not ready for the autumn to start, however; this last weeks it has been so dramatically evident time, seasons, years... life! goes by so fast one has to do a conscious stop in order to realise. So wanting to hold to the summer is just as utopical as thinking way back I would always be twenty.

One day you are young, so full of life and dreams and curiosity, eager for adventures, for challenges, for life lessons, where the world is your game board and infinite is the limit, however; the next time you look, twenty years have passed and you have barely realised. "Where did the time go?" you ask yourself and when you think about it, you gain full awareness of all the things you have had the time to do.

I do not know if anyone has the life at forty he dram at twenty, but my feeling is more and more that life, like Lennon's song, "is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". So why not embrace it and let it flow. For sure the ride would be much more pleasant and worry-free. However (and this is just a wild guess) I guess this just goes against the planning human nature. 

I find myself at forty at the start of a new (is it accurate to call it "new" or is it just the continuation of?) life, I have left behind "my orderly life" and forbid myself, as always, to look back. I feel as alive and invincible as when I was twenty, but now I know better. It is not at all a bad "continuation point". Then again, someone who reminded me too much of myself and as young as I was twenty years ago came into my life and stirred up all these thoughts and feelings. It was like looking into a time mirror and recognising myself. Amusing and rewarding, it did put a smile in my heart and made me regain boldness, and made me wonder at what point of my way, had I discarded it. 

Rod, I have to thank you for your enthusiasm and positive energy, I am sure you will not miss the one you have left in Spain. You have more than enough for yourself and others, and you can just generate so much every day. A true donor. 

My business plan is shaping up, I have an enthusiastic and full of energy business partner who's business idea is so much in line with mine, that we are like mind-siamese, my two-year diploma studies will start soon, and "entre copa y copa" lots of things to be done and, I am already looking forward to looking back in twenty-year time to realise how far I have gotten on this path. Hopefully happily far, if not, I will for sure remember this time, when I felt like twenty again. 

That reminds me of another song that says: "sentir que es un soplo la vida, que veinte años no es nada", (to feel that one’s life is a twinkle, that twenty years is nothing) by Carlos Gardel.

This time I do want to dedicate this post to my, now, three boys. I love you dearly and I thank you for sharing your thoughts and dreams with me. To Pancho, Maww and Rod, all the best wherever you are, wherever you go, whatever you do. Keep me posted!


Good luck and many experiences in the new semester 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Life is good when you are having fun

and time also flies, so they say, and that is exactly how it feels.

A few months ago, it seemed this was going to be the longest summer ever, but when I look into the calendar (not that often) it is amazing to see we are reaching the end of the month of August. But I am still trying to shape my new shoes and ... Slow down, please!

This was another fantastic weekend at the beach. I haven't had many this year, despite of being so close, but got many things to do. I insist.

A friend visited Galicia some days ago and I was sad and disappointed (without being sure that is the word) not to see him. I do not know, but I think I would have made the effort if it would have been the other way around. However, life has is surprises, and while 'mourning' my friend, a very distant and very young relative, of identical name, made his appearance in my life.

What I thought at first it would be a courtesy, turned out to be an extremely pleasant time with a very young person and early wine lover. 

The last few days I have enjoyed the nice, easy going, personality of the 'snake charmer' and had the great opportunity to review my wine knowledge thanks to his never-ending questions regarding wine.

It is actually so stimulating to find young people so eager to know and learn. Yes, I must say he did find my Achilles' heel and I have to thank him for the four days of good conversation, food and wine.

Looking back, the weekend started off by meeting my business partner (to be) and unleashing our thoughts and dreams, deciding to meet again in a week-time to lay down our ideas and build up our business plan. 

Driving, on Monday, my good friends Nacho and Yeni to Porto to catch the flight that would take them to the Salzburg Festival, where they were going to see, life, Bartoli's Norma (yes, I am jealous. Very) and taking a day off in Porto, visiting a winery, buying a vintage Kopke 'Colheita 1983' and walking around that, very close to my heart, city.

View of the Ribeira from Vila Nova de Gaia

My new 'baby'

On Tuesday, a very domestic day. Getting finally sorted my Internet at home was a top priority. One cannot inhabit the XXI Century without having decent Internet, whatever it takes. So I had to install a parabolic antenna at home in order to get something like broad band Internet. And it seems it works! Good.

Wednesday, time to go to the beach and the goal; to stay until the weekend. I took Rodrigo along and it was (please, excuse the capital letters) SO NICE, that time just flew. 

'Cloudy Thursday' took us to Viana do Castelo, where I had the chance to discover another lovely Portuguese town. I had been before, several times, to the 'citania' visiting Santa Luzia, the last time with Erin at the Pousada, having lunch before driving her to Porto airport, but never to the historic centre, and I must say it is 'quelque chose'. 

I had a great time discovering the town at the same time I was discovering Rodrigo, and laughing and enjoying just the fact of being there.

Viana do Castelo (I had to wait for a good five minutes to take this picture 'tourist-free')

Friday, time to visit a piece of heaven on earth. Roberto,the vineyard manager, kindly offered to show us the vineyards of 'Altos de Torona', a one-hundred hectare vineyard in Tomiño. At 17:00 (not so) sharp we were there to see the vineyards planted on the Rosal sky top. Jose gave us an extensive explanation about the terroir of this heavenly grape paradise. That night, Rodrigo and I shared a bottle of their young red wine. Very good. 

Altos de Torona vineyards in Vilarchan, Tomiño. (DO Rias Baixas) http://www.altosdetorona.com/

Saturday, we spent a beach afternoon at the Cies Islands, dreaming about sailing and diving the oceans and then to Salvaterra do Miño, to attend their annual wine fest. Good company and good wine. Life is good.

Sunday: a 25+ bright sun day at the beach, and time for me to drive back to Ourense, and for Rodrigo to continue his journey. On our way, the 'vuelta ciclista' near Tui, and a brief farewell in Valença with the best wishes for a good stay in Portugal and a very business constructive week for me in Ourense.

Now, listening to Cecilia's 'Norma', drinking Grüner Veltliner and writing this entry. An ode to music, wine, beauty and friendahip.

Salud, and all the best to you.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Wining across Galicia

Long time no entries, sorry for that. However, I do have two great excuses. 

First good excuse. Erin came to visit for a week in July, a week that just seemed too short. It was so great seeing her after almost three months that while waiting for her at the airport I was so excited and happy, nerves in my belly, that I just could not wait to see her and show her around.

For one week we did some site seeing and lots of wining and dining across the region. Our first stop was Tui on our way back from Porto and later a finger food diner on the hill top of Casal de Arman, with a lovely sight overlooking the Ribeiro vineyards in Ourense.

Dinner with a view in Casal de Arman

The following days were a continuous driving back and forth to some of the close attractions around Ourense. We visited  the 'Ribera Sacra' and took the catamaran along the Sil River while contemplating the terraced vineyards between steep rock walls and later getting lost while trying to find Santa Cristina monastery on our way back, a challenge we did not manage to meet, but at least we did make it to San Pedro de Rocas, an amazing monastery excavated in the granite rocks of the mountain, surrounded by chestnut tree forest and small running creeks.

Hahaha, the experience was not as pleasant when we decided to embark ourselves in the catamaran from Baiona and spend a day at the Cies Islands. Half way to the coast, the fog made its appearance  and stayed. For over five hours we were at the paradisiac island, covered with all the clothes we had and trying to stay warm. The stress and disappointment had its reward in the way of an amazing diner at El Candil, in Baiona. Bogavante rice and a bottle of Godello, were a nice consolation price. 

The night before departure we went to the Rosal wine fest, a very typical Galician way of celebrating their 'fiestas' with nice local products and the fantastic Rias Baixas wine from O Rosal subregion. The 'charanga' made its way and everyone, without exception, danced and sang to the music of the young musicians. It was a very folkloric moment to take as a souvenir. 

It just went so fast, that by the time we realised the seven days were gone and the drive back to Porto from Viana do Castelo, a bit tight. I did not succeed in my secret plan to miss the plane so that she had to stay for another week... 

Well my dear friend, you must come to visit again. Soon.

The days between Erin's departure and Peter's arrival went between finalising my kitchen (still ongoing), meeting friends and other domestic tasks. 

On Sunday the day started out grey and not that warm, threatening thunderstorms, nothing to do with the summer ideal. Peter arrived to Vigo on the late flight from Madrid, just in time to suffer a bit of turbulences but when the worst had past, and from Monday on... Sun, sun, sun!

With my house in better shape, we managed to eat breakfast everyday in the new balcony set and prepare coffee in the new kitchen. A ode to modernity! Small quotidian pleasures, nice to have back.

Tuesday 30 July: my grandmother's 90th birthday and time for a family celebration I could not ask my guest to endure, so while I sang along a million times happy birthday dear mother, grandmother, greatgrandmother... He had wonderful day at the beach in Cies.

Heading towards the Cies Islands from Baiona

Tapas dinner in Baiona and a three day stay at the beach, working (hard) on our suntan. I must say he managed to get one much better than mine... :(

Time flies when you are having fun, and after visiting Santiago de Compostela on Saturday, and a lazy Sunday in Ourense, it was time for him to go back and for me to prepare for my next visit. This time it is my turn to travel to Madrid on the weekend to celebrate a very dear friend's birthday.

Pedro en Santiago de Compostela

While I was writing this post, the carpenter finished with the last details of my kitchen and the painter will come this afternoon to do the last bit. Oh yeah!

Well my readers, thank you for your patience and hope to see you soon.

On the meantime, enjoy and have fun.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Rías Baixas - Rosal

I am lucky enough to know this wine region for many years, not so much all the wines that are produced here, but the Rosal area, yes! 

The first summer spent in this land was at the age of 16, quite a long time has past, however; the memories are still very vivid and present in my mind and very close to my heart. Around this land I was a teenager once. Not so sweet sixteen, specially for my parents. I lived and loved the summers here, at the times when school was over in June and we did not have to go back until October, so the long summer holidays spent here are very dear to me.

This place was the scenery of summer friendships, summer freedom, summer outings and summer hangovers. The first time I tried wine and many other spirits, not always of the best quality and of not so clear origin. Yes, the summers spent here were very important and enlightening. Who would have guessed then that twenty plus years later I would be approaching this land from a very different perspective.

I do not even think back then the wine from this region was known as Rias Baixas, I think we would then order a wine from Rosal. It was good back then and I would say even better nowadays.

Back then we would suffer the high acidity of the alvariño grapes in our own stomach, nowadays this same acidity, proper to the grape sort is much better balanced, giving the wines all the freshness without the pain. Thankgodfor modern viniculture! 

Galician white wines have always been a reference of quality in the national market, however, of the Spanish whites one can find outside Spain, Rias Baixas is for sure one, and a very appreciated one. Fruity, fresh, citrus, full of life. They are great with the regions excellent seafood or drank on their own. 

The vineyards in the northwest part of Spain encounter different challenges, like the excess of autumn to spring rain and the very warm dry summers, not so drastic near the coast where the DO Rias Baixas is located. O Rosal has a microclimate of its own. Moderate temperatures, plus the fogs from the banks of the Miño river. A nice, stable temperature with no frost nor too hot in summer. I am sure grapes are happy here, just like me! ;)

Today I had lunch at a nice place in the middle of the Rosal area: as Eiras. Long time no see and still a pretty place to go. It opened back in 1988 and I have been a costumer since then. At that time it was a real act of heroism to wait for a table and have dinner, maybe after 5 hours... It is much more elegant and better organised now, it has gained some good things and it has lost some very charming ones. 


There are things that despite of the years and the seasons one never gets tired of seeing, that is the case of this view. I have seen this view from the widow for over 25 years now, and every time, I find it as beautiful as the first time I saw it.

It has been a lovely SUMMER day, full of sun and over 30 degrees.

Salud! I am out to drink some Rosal wine ;)

Have a nice weekend and enjoy.