“Traveling; first it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” Ibn Battuta
Never has a statement been proven to be truer as the one I've shared above. After my trip the Rioja Wine region last year, I had so many great stories which I've only now felt compelled to tell all of you. Some of the best stories are told after they have had time to fully mature in cellar.
It was in June of last year that I went Rioja for a week-plus, I was part of a contingent of other bloggers, many of whom you know and love [some more and some less]. That said, those joining me on this auspicious trip to one of the most exciting wine regions in the world were; Joe Roberts, Richard Jennings, Wine Harlots, and Gregory Dal Piaz.
What a great group, I've only known the others from social-media [Twitter, FB] interactions, save the Harlot who has had the good fortune of traveling with me on other trips [ha-ha]. Some good times were had getting to know my new traveling companions over many plates of Jamon, slurping down countless bottles of Gran Riservas and of course who could forget the wee-fee enabled Rioja Car [who knew it had four-wheel drive?].
I did have a busy travel calendar last year, that's safe to say. My passport was nearly worn-out, mostly because it spent a considerable amount of time in my back-pocket [not a wise-move]. But those are the facts, Jack. Now speaking of facts, the [full disclosure speaking for myself] trip was sponsored by the folks at Vibrant Rioja.
But the other part of the story not shared by the rest of the group came via my request to arrive one day early so I could acclimate a bit better to the time change. But what I didn't see coming, because my connection times were so close together landing at CDG, that I had would have to sprint from one end of the airport to the other, not a pretty sight either. The herculean effort took me across several concourses, fun was had in elevators, on escalators, rides on steamy buses and I ultimately beat [via more sprinting] several other passengers onto the last plane departing for Bilbao. Sorry to say, they closed the door to the plane in their faces.
I thought about all those other folks I beat to the punch, with a small twinge of guilt, but hell it was every-man for himself. I was not going to let anything spoil a beautiful evening in Bilbao, along with my favorite room at the Hotel Carlton which has a [free wee-fee] great view of the plaza and is just a block or two away from the famous Guggenheim. But when I landed at the tiny airport in Bilbao, my luggage was nowhere to be found [ugh].
But, I didn't worry too long as I was met by a very kind young-lady [from Ground Force] who knew all about my situation and even knew my name. I caught a cab from the airport [20 euros], and while I was out on the town, my luggage arrived on a later flight [whew].
This post is already getting long, so I'm going to finish it up via a part-two post and if you're left wondering about the wine pictured above [spoiler-alert] which I will get to later in part-two. Uh, let me just say in a word, WOW! An authentic wine with soul, one that beats with the heart of traditional Rioja. But stay tuned the story about Miguel, and his wonderfully authentic winery will be well worth the read.