Monday, July 19, 2010

Boda en Coruña

 Here's a link to my photos on Picasa Web. Click on picture to access.

Wedding in Santiago de Compostela

So, my sister-in-law got married this past weekend. They had been living in La Coruña for the past 2 years and had already planned their wedding in the Santiago city hall and a lovely restaurant in a small town near Coruña, so, even though they are back living in Madrid, they still had the wedding up north. It was a good choice. Beautiful location! The town hall in Santiago is across the plaza from the cathedral. Let me give some background on Santiago.

Legend says that the remains of the Apostle James were found in the 9th century in Santiago and the cathedral was built around them. On another of the four sides of the plaza is the Parador de los Reyes Católicos. This is a hotel that was built for the pilgrims as they made their visits to the cathedral. My parents and I stayed here in 1995 when they came to visit me while I was in grad school. I'll never forget the "little snack" this super nice waiter prepared for us of some seafood. It was a platter the size of the table that cost probably $150. (Yeah, the tourists got suckered on that one :) Across from the cathedral in the plaza is the town hall. It's not an american style town hall. This is a beautiful former palace type town hall. Beautiful chandeliers and tapestries. Encarna María and Juan Carlos got married in this framed type throne area. Really cool! To the right is a picture of Carlos and María with their "primas grandes" (big cousins) María Dolores and Isabel María (the cathedral in the background). They are both studying in university now- María Dolores just graduated from nursing school and is studying to specialize to be a midwife. Isabel María just finished her first year of medical school. Beautiful and smart young ladies! Carlos and María had a blast at the wedding with them. When I met Guillermo they were just little girls. It's so weird to see them so grown up!

The building to the right in the picture of the plaza is the Parador Reyes Católicos. The building to the left of the picture is the Town Hall that Encarna María and Juan Carlos got married in. You can see them coming out of the building in the picture above. Below is a picture of Papá José and María with the Parador in the background.

Here they are sitting in their thrones with Juan Carlos' mother and José Antonio behind serving as the witnesses. In the previous photo you can see more of the room where the ceremony was. The guests mostly stood in the back of the room and there were a few seats for the close family. .
 After the ceremony, we waited for the couple outside and threw rose petals. Then off they went to have pictures taken and the guests all piled onto the bus to head back to Coruña for the dinner and dance. Santiago is like an hour from Coruña.

The bus finally arrived at the banquet place. It was a beautiful old home on top of a mountain above Coruña. The pictures I got don't do the place justice. We had a cocktail hour while we waited for the couple to arrive. Carlos, Maria, and Juan Carlos' niece and nephew entertained Gloria while the rest of the guests partook in the food and drinks.
Finally they arrived and another photo session ensued. Have to document all the guests and family relations for the wedding album!  it was probably close to 11pm by the time we entered the hall to eat.

We had a huge three or four course meal. As I said in a previous post, I had the child's menu. But, really, the meal was delicious. They had grilled lobster, baked clams, then there was a filet wrapped in bacon, and the wedding cake (which interestingly, they cut before the meal rather than after) and ice cream followed by coffee and liquors then the open bar and dancing followed the meal. (That didn't get started till 1:45am or so.) Following are pics of the cake cutting, Gloria clapping when they cut the cake, various family members enjoying their traditional after dinner cigars, Maria and Tita Loli dancing, and my favorite: Carlos giving Gloria a goodnight kiss as Mamá María is trying to get her to sleep in the middle of the dancing at 2 am!

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'll let the video speak for itself. (Note: Paul the Octopus at the front of the bus- he is just as much a celebrated hero as the team is!) Just a little background, Guillermo went to watch the bus with the team pass by at 7:30 and they didn't pass until 9:30pm. There were so many people in the streets that the bus couldn't move. And this was only en route to the huge stage they built down by the river. We just watched that celebration on tv. There were so many people there- they were interviewing people that had been there since 9 am- they hadn't eaten all day. But, they were still going strong! This is absolutely amazing. I always said that Spaniards have a gene that allows them to function on much less sleep. If the past two days doesn't prove it, I don't know what will.
The adorable little princesses, Leonor and Sofía get to hold the Cup and Leonor gives Iker Casillas a kiss.

David Villa holding the Cup

I hope anyone who is reading my blog is enjoying all this. I cannot give the experience justice!

Stay tuned... Wedding this weekend up north.

Somos los campeones!!!!!!!

In case you haven't seen my facebook posts, Spain won! Yep, historic game- finally Spain wins a World Cup! Last night was one of the most phenomenal of our lives. Guillermo's definitely. The kids thought all the people were crazy, but they enjoyed being out among all the chaos. Maria was more worried about how they were going to clean the streets with all the garbage! She is a very environmentally conscious young lady. (I am very proud!)

This is the final whistle of the game and Guillermo celebrating with the kids. We celebrated more with the goal just a few minutes before, but I didn't get that on camera. And what a goal it was. Just four minutes till the end of overtime! Thank goodness it didn't come down to penalty kicks. It's funny, when I first came to Spain and started watching soccer, excuse me, fútbol, I thought ending a game with penalty kicks was so awesome. But, as the years have passed and I actually watch the games and can understand the play on the field, I have come to the decision that penalty kicks really put the previous 120 minutes of play in the trash. What I mean is that even though no goals have been scored and technically both teams are even, there usually is one team that has played a better game. I've been rooting for teams on both sides of this. Penalty kicks can go either way. So, I am so happy Iniesta was able to convert his awesome play throughout the whole tournament into the most important goal of all!

So, after the game we went out to the streets. I have honestly never seen anything like it. There must have been very few people inside their homes. We took the metro towards the celebrations, but looking back, we probably did not even have to go as far towards the center as we did. We came up to Calle Alcala right next to the Parque del Retiro. (It is like the central park of Madrid) We walked down towards the Cibeles fountain and the Paseo de Recoletos where the big screens were. This is where things got crazy. Really crazy. The streets heading towards Cibeles were full of cars going nowhere and people. Waving flags, singing, horns, and lots and lots of RED. When we got to Cibeles, I realized it was even bigger than we thought. The Castellana is the main street that divides Madrid and runs north/south. Normally it is six lanes of traffic, but last night it was six lanes of people. The whole street! So cool.

We bowed out at 1:30 or so, but I don't believe there are many people working in Madrid, or the rest of Spain, today. We just finished watching the airplane carrying the team arrive in Madrid. The team was received by a huge party. They got on a bus and are headed to a luncheon, to meet the King and then the president. After that, this afternoon they will get on a double decker bus and there will be a parade through through the streets of Madrid. We are planning of venturing out to see that as well!

Now it's off to buy tshirts and posters and all those "souveniers" that you have to spend money on for these types of events. I am happy to do it! Love to everyone!

Stay tuned...


Friday, July 9, 2010

Final bet: Oracle Paul the Octopus picks Spain over Netherlands to win W...

Okay, so the octopus says Spain's going to win. And, well, since he hasn't been wrong yet, we might as well trust him, right?? It seems there is an octopus somewhere in Germany that has predicted all the world cups games correctly. The news here in Spain is taking this guy pretty seriously, so why should I, right? Well, I should probably mention that there is also a parakeet somewhere that predicted the Holland would win over Spain. But, really, what does a parakeet know about soccer! I'll go with Octopus Paul.
There is also a big controversy over whether the president, Zapatero, should go the the final game. It seems he is "gafe" (which means bad luck) and no one wants him to go. The Queen, however, is a different story. They love her and she is such a great lady. She dresses in red and wears a yellow and red scarf and goes to many of the big sporting events. She was there for Nadal at the French Open and Wimbledon, and was at the semifinal game on Wednesday. After the game she went down to the locker room to congratulate the team and caught Puyol, who scored the only goal, in his towel. Now, of course many will say, what did she expect in a men's locker room, but really, she was just so happy for them that they had won, it was a great moment.

Okay, well the weekend is upon us. We will hopefully do something worth blogging about. Definitely expect some stuff after Sunday's final. Aupa España!!!!!!!!!!!

Stay tuned...
La Reina Sofia saluda al equipo   

El saludo entre Puyol salido de la ducha y la Reina Sofía

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Videos of the Celebration

Sorry about the bumpy quality, it was hard to keep my hand still.

Spain wins their semifinal match!

So, today Spain played Germany in their semifinal match for the World Cup. We have lots of friends that were rooting for Germany, and we wish them all the best in their 3rd/4th place game against Uruguay. (I especially hope the Kissner girls and the Niek family will still be our friends.) We'll be playing the final against Holland. Bring on the orange! Dennis and Guillermo will still be friends after this game, I hope... :) We watched the game on the edge of our seats. It was a good one. There was some good plays and good shots and great saves. No penalties, it ended a pretty clean game. Like Guillermo said, playing against Germany, he knew that soccer would actually be played and the winner would know they won a clean game. The goal was phenomenal! Pujols headed in a corner kick! I love those kind of goals. After the game we took to the streets along with probably the rest of Spain. It was amazing. Everyone was outside yelling and blowing those annoying horns and waving flags. We walked an hour to the soccer stadium where people gathered to watch the game on a big screen the tv station put up. It was wild! I got some video of all the people and traffic and horns blowing. Guillermo was just like a little kid on Christmas morning opening up that special present.
Now we have to prepare for the big final game on Sunday. But the party won't end here, as I said before, Spain has never made it to the semifinals in the World Cup, so whatever happens, the team will be welcomed as heroes when they return next week. There will surely be a parade and we'll try to go see them.

The kids are tired, but excited. It will be an exciting weekend around here. Stay tuned...
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Non-Fourth of July

So, today is the 4th of July. From facebook posts I see everyone is cooking out, boating, celebrating with friends and watching fireworks. Well, they don't celebrate America's independence over here, so, we didn't do anything that special. Actually, it's been 6 years, I think, since I've celebrated 4th of July. Oh well, I hope everyone has fun!

Anyway, what have the Botella's been up to? Well, we are back in Madrid. We got here yesterday in time to watch Spain play in the Quarterfinals of the World Cup against Paraguay. We won! Spain has actually never passed the Quarterfinals in the World Cup, so they are pretty excited about finally breaking the "curse". Now we play Germany. Guillermo says he would rather play Germany than Paraguay or Argentina because if they lose, at least he knows they lost playing soccer, not talking. It's a soccer thing. Anyway, things are going to be pretty crazy around here on Wednesday. I will try to get some photos and post them.
We went to lunch today at Foster's of Hollywood. It is a "hard rock" wannabe restaurant. It is one of the few places in Spain where one can get free refills on pop. I think we drove them crazy drinking and asking for refills. The food was good. Mamá María and Papá José like to get ribs and they have them there. Not my mom's, but pretty good. After, we went grocery shopping. Stores are usually closed on Sundays, but on the first Sunday of every month they open. So, today was one of those days. We filled the cart and off we went. Then we got frappucinos from Starbucks for all the adults. They don't have peppermint, but I got my mocha fix.

This afternoon the kids spent at the pool with the older kids that they follow around. They love to play cards and baseball with them. It is a group of 13/14 year olds that they have been playing with for several years now. Carlos taught them all how to play kickball last year. Today he brought out the baseball bat and gloves. He hit the first ball over the hedge and we had to yell at the people on the other side to send the ball back over.

Guillermo's sister and Juan Carlos came over for the evening with Gloria. She is 11 months old and cries whenever she sees me! But today we had a breakthrough. She actually sat with me on the floor and played blocks. Then Carlos took the blocks across the room and got her to crawl to him. Everyone is so anxious that she is going to fall and hit her head! Of course, she did, but as those of us of Hunter Ridge know, it happens.

We were talking about the food for Encarna María's wedding. Of course, in Galicia, which is the northwest of Spain, they eat seafood. Well, they eat seafood everywhere here, and especially in Guillermo's family. I hate fish, seafood, anything that comes from water. The only fish anyone will catch me eating is McD's filet o fish. Anyway, so as they are discussing the menu, I hear my name. I go over and they are discussing how they need to order the kiddie menu for me. It's true. I ordered from the kiddie menu for my own wedding! The kiddie menu has tortilla de patatas and croquetas, much better than fish! But, for those that enjoy "delicias del mar", the menu looks like it will be pretty fabulous.

Right now, Maria is watching a tv show made for Argentina tv. It is called Patito Feo (Ugly Duckling). It is made for pre-teens and is a cross between Ugly Betty and High School Musical. The best part, is the accent. They are Argentine so they have this really cool accent. I think it's good for Maria, because all the shows she has been watching are disney channel shows that she knows are in English, so she puts the tv in English (with digital tv everything is possible). So, she is watching Spanish and loves it! Of course, she'll get back in August to Hawken and start talking with her teacher with an Argentine accent. That would be funny! "Vos sos tarado!" Ha!

So, we'll be in Madrid for the next two weeks. Guillermo wants to take a trip to Segovia one day. Carlos wants to see the Aqueduct and Alcázar (Castle) that he showed to his class for his Spain presentation. Segovia is one of my favorite cities in Spain. It is about an hour north of the city. We'll probably take the train.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mama Maria's Bday

So, today we all slept in until like 1 oclock and after we went to Mamá Lola's house for lunch. (It's the big meal of the day here and in a village like this, everything closes and everyone goes home to eat with the family.) Today is my mother-in-law's bday. We went yesterday and bought two cakes to celebrate. We surprised her with the cakes and candles after lunch. It was nice for her, I hope. Of course, with two cakes, we'll be eating cake for the rest of the week, but hey, it's summer vacay, right??

So, I thought I would tell everyone a bit about the village. It is in the middle of a semi-mountainous region and everyone here is a farmer. The village itself is surrounded by lemon and orange trees and the olive groves are pretty plentiful around here. They also grow almonds, apricots, plums, dates, etc. You name it, Papá Juan probably grows it. He also has this old barn attached to the garage where he makes wine. Yep, he takes it pretty seriously, too. They are constantly arguing (well, probably just discussing, but since they all yell at each other all the time...) about whether it is full moon or new moon or waxing or waning. WHAT on earth does the moon's status have to do with making wine???? Well, it seems that you can bottle the wine only at certain times of the month. But on Fridays during a waxing moon it's really a waning moon or some silly tradition like that and they can bottle the wine. It is so confusing and they are consistently talking about the wine and when they can bottle it. Papá Juan pulls out a bottle every day for lunch. It's pure alcohol! We are talking homemade moonshine! Ha, I guess I get the connection to that word now. :)

Oh, and what's even funnier, I am not allowed anywhere near the barn. Nope, it seems if a woman of childbearing age happens to have her monthly visit and goes near the wine, the whole batch will go bad. I don't know if this is really true or not, but they are pretty serious about this as well. To be honest, I don't really want to go in the barn. It's kind of scary looking. It looks like it is 300 years old. It's attached to the back side of the village's palace. Yep, there is a palace here. It's from the 17th century, last added to in the 19th century. It is privately owned, and as you can see from some of the pictures below, it is in pretty bad shape. One side of the palace was sold off and is now Mamá Lola's house. Next to the main entrance of the palace, the village has their church. They just re-did the plaza (that's the town square) and are hoping to earn money to invest in restoring the palace. Mamá Lola has told me so many stories about the old days. I guess her father and grandfather were friends with the last Marqués who lived there. She says he was a nice guy.

Guillermo and I had our wedding photos from Spain taken on the steps of the palace. Plus all of our group family shots are taken at the entrance of the palace with the arch. In the aerial picture you can see the plaza in front of the palace and that there is a type of entrance/courtyard. At the top of the photo there is a street that passes and there is a red car parked. Mamá Lola and Papá Juan own the two houses at the end of this street facing each other. One house is their home where they sleep (the one attached to the palace), and the one on the other side of the street is where she had her store. Now that she is retired, they rennovated the store back into a house and they cook, eat and spend their days in that house. Looking at the aerial picture, the street that passes by the palace where there are several cars parked, there is a yellow car. The house directly across the street from the yellow car is the house that Mamá Lola grew up in. Her brothers and sisters own that house now. They have divided it up into several smaller homes.

Okay, well we are off to visit Papá Guillermo at his fancy hotel. We have our big game tonight! Spain-Portugal. I'll write about that tomorrow.
Stay tuned...

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Action

Almanzora is a small village in southern Spain (part of the Almeria province). Since the first time I came here for Easter weekend in 1997 it has changed quite a bit. When I first came, all of Guillermo's friends still lived at home and we were social butterflies going out every night and sleeping in all day long from exhaustion. Mama Lola owned a store and there were a few British transplants that would go in to buy stuff. She knew how to say "hello"and "thank you". As the years have passed, the group of people we once spent all of our time with has dispersed. Many moving on from university studies to marriage, jobs, families, etc. Only one, Guillermo's cousin, Andres, still lives in the village. He and his wife have built a very nice house up the street from Papa Guillermo's house. We watch a lot of soccer games there. They have two young children of their own. It's funny to see Carlos and Maria with the little ones. I remember when they were the little ones.

The village is now full of British people. They have come and bought all the old farmhouses on the outskirts and rennovated them. In the summers they have family and friends visiting and it seems that the English speakers outnumber the Spanish speakers. I was joking with the bar owner across the street yesterday that his English should be really great by now, he laughed and told me that they know enough Spanish to order and pay the bill, that's all he cares about. :)

Speaking of the Brits, yesterday the bar was a ghost town. Could it be due to the lack of celebratory spirit after England's loss to Germany?? (congrats to the Kissner girls!) I thought they would all be in the bar watching the game and drinking, as they always are, but nope. Not a single Brit to be found! I guess they had more hopes in the world cup than us Americans... I can't imagine our loss was mourned as widely as theirs.

But, hey, WHO CARES?! Spain plays tomorrow. Carlos and Guillermo have their shirts all clean and ready to wear! The "furia roja" is ready to win! ESPANA!!!!!! ESPANA!!!!!  

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Well, the flight was uneventful. We spent a few days in Madrid and then took a train down to Almeria, where we picked up my in-laws'car and drove to the village. (You can see pics on google earth, Almanzora, Spain)
My father in law had eye surgery and cannot really move around too much and Guillermo has to do the driving. Great! With the travel we have to do this summer going up north and back down south, we'll probably log 24 hours in the car.

The kids really enjoyed the train ride. It was a new experience for them. But the question ""Are we in Almanzora yet?" still comes just as often in Spain as it does in Ohio!

Papa Guillermo checked himself into a "Residencia" (which is a nursing home) while my in-laws have been in Madrid for the eye surgery and all. We told the kids that he is on vacation at a fancy hotel. According to everyone it is like a fancy hotel. He likes it so much there he doesn't want to come home. He's happy there and has people that will listen to his stories about Germany and the war and the old days. As long as he comes to visit us while we are here, I think we are all happy with the arrangement. When one is 94 years old, it's not so easy to be home alone in such a big house.

This morning Maria and I were laying in bed listening to my mother in law and her mother talking. Maria says, "Mommy, it sounds like they are fighting". I said, "they are just talking, honey". She said, "well, they don't have to yell at each other!" I just chuckled. They always yell when they talk. I remember my parents making the same comment a few years ago when they visited. I just tune out and if someone wants my opinion I play dumb. :)

We are only going to stay down here for a week then it's back to Madrid and then up to La Coruña for Encarna Maria's wedding. Speaking of Encarna Maria, her little baby, Gloria is 11 months old now. She is so adorable. She doesn't like me too much, she cries every time she sees me. (Can you believe that Hunter Ridge friends? A baby that cries every time it sees me! I am dying here!!!) She does love Carlos and Maria, though. And her tito Guillermo, of course (who doesn't love Guillermo!)

Will try to post more, but we are sort of "incomunicado" with my phone NOT WORKING over here! The jerk who works at the Verizon store in Twinsburg is going to get a talking to when I get home!

Love to everyone. Carlos and Maria will be desperate for company of their own age when we get back. I fear they won't have many kids around this summer to keep them entertained.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Flight Change

So, Guillermo noticed on the flight itinerary that they changed our flight from Toronto from Monday to Tuesday night. That would leave us for 24 hours in Toronto just hanging out. RIGHT! Anyone ever traveled with two kids???? Luckily the lady from Air Canada reservations understood and changed everything (even overriding seat arrangements) to get us all settled. So, to my relief (yeah, still haven't packed anything!) we get an extra day before we leave. I sold it to Guillermo as his chance to watch Spain play. Originally he would have missed the game because we would be in transit. I don't think he bought it, but it is what it is.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Have NOT Packed a Thing!

Well, on suggestion from my college friends last night, I decided to start a blog for our trip to Spain this summer. Hopefully I will have access to the Internet so that I can post often. I will also try to add pics.
(Amy, you promised to read, so I'll have a quiz ready when I get back.)

So, we leave on Monday, June 21st. Have not started to pack a thing! I have been collecting presents and other assorted things requested by family there and throwing everything in bags in the spare (junk collecting) bedroom. I can barely open the door, let alone fathom how I am going to go through everything and PACK! (Are you getting the sense that I am frustrated and procrastinating on the packing here????)

We have my sister-in-law's wedding on July 17th, and her daughter's baptism the following weekend. Does that mean I have to pack TWO different outfits for each one of us??? I suppose it does. Although, I don't know about Guillermo and Carlos, they can probably get away with the same stuff. But Maria and I HAVE to be fashionable Americans, right?? Yeah, anyone who has met Maria knows that getting her to wear a dress is about as easy as getting me to stop eating chocolate. HA, fat chance.

Speaking of fat, I have gained some weight this year. Not looking forward to those comments. Oh well, I will just have to deal with it. At least I am free from cooking, cleaning, laundry, and all that this summer.

OH YEAH, I don't really do much of that here, Guillermo does all that. So, what do I do? School, school, and more school. I am looking forward to not working for seven weeks. Except for the two online sessions I have scheduled for professional development, I should be able to disconnect. That will be nice.

So, keep checking in. I will try to write at least once a week, probably more, and post lots of photos.