- The hotel was commissioned by the Marques de Riscal winery, the oldest winery in the Rioja region of Spain. We went on a wine tour of the winery and discovered that it has a private collection of every vintage since 1860;
- For the first time ever I have been more impressed by the architecture of a hotel rather than anything else. It is amazing. Just being in the rooms (twisting and turning to fit in with the architecture rather than being rooms designed for the user in mind).
- The restaurant makes you want to live in the hotel forever. Any hotel restaurant which does a 'stew of the day' (which makes you want to cry, it's so good) each day clearly caters to the Scot in me.
Other first times from the holiday:
- I discovered that there is a Spanish city called Logrono (and visited it). It apparently has 150,000 inhabitants. Now, I absolutely defy you to have heard of it. Unless you're Spanish or have extensively toured there. Now, I expect most people have heard of most large Spanish cities. But Logrono? I had never heard of it and it has no tourists and as a result is amazing. We had a great tapas bar hopping experience there.
- I went to Pamplona for the first time. Yes, that bull running place. Lovely place - was most impressed by the tiled bathrooms in the cathedral (yes, I'm that sad. I only took about six photos all holiday and that was one of them).
- I went to a medieval village called Laguardia. Previously, this had only been known to me as NY's second airport, which just goes to show what I know. It was bitterly cold. I actually cried with cold (but had an excuse to wear all my new scarves at once - see previous posts). It's lovely - no need to make a special trip there, in my HO.
- I had lunch in Biarritz on the way back. Get this - it was the 30th December and I sat outside to have lunch, it was so warm. I had never been to Biarritz (south of France, but Atlantic side, not the Med) and now I am in love with it. Beach and a Galeries Lafayette. When can we move there?
- Went to San Sebastian. I can't claim this as a first time, but I can say that I ran along La Concha beach for the first time. Felt a bit sad as that was the first day without George.
So that's a potted summary of my last few first times. Which takes me to today. Went to see Arsenal play Plymouth in the Cup (we won 3-1 for those of you who have not fallen asleep at the mention of football). I decided that as it is new year, I'd say happy new year to the man next to me, and ask his name. Now I know. This doesn't sound like a big deal? It is. Men go years and years and years sitting next to another season ticket holder year after year without asking their name. It's how it works. It is not manly to seem too friendly. But I'm not a man, and I have a blog to write, so I did it. Now the man I usually call the "Behave, you f***ing muppet!" man (as that's all he ever says during a game - to the players, not me) has a name. He's called Derek. And he even smiled.