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Nicole Linares is a student at the Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality, USA, an active member of her schools Wine Academy and budding wine writer.
Over the next two weeks I will be posting a complete account of Nicole’s road trip around the Rioja region of Spain; which she undertook earlier this year.
Day 1-May 2nd 2013
I will keep a constant running journal about my time during this amazing experience and what I learn. I am hoping to expand my knowledge of these wines and work on my palate. Our professor, Chip Cassidy, will be joining us shortly in Madrid, so we have been left to our own devices on the first leg. This is where the adventure has truly begun, as all of us excitedly depart hot Miami and board this eight-hour flight to Madrid. The journey so far has been an entertaining one, mainly because of the dynamic of our group. I’ll go more in depth as I announce the players.
The group has naturally split into smaller cliques, more because of familiarity than anything else. In my initial group we have Orestes, the outspoken (consider that an understatement) and passionate Greek who has probably consumed his body weight in alcoholic beverages since we arrived at the airport around 3:30pm. There is a lot more on him, but I’ll respectfully continue with the others. There is JC, the shy but extremely funny and quirky hipster who has brought along an adorable and snuggly little pillow that resembles a cured ham leg. Ozzie, short for Oswaldo, is a comedic Venezuelan whose extreme sarcasm goes right over my head constantly, I can never tell when he is being serious so I gladly accept the challenge and am constantly looking at him sideways before he starts laughing at how gullible I am. He has become my partner in crime on this trip and I enjoy his wittiness and disdain for attention and people. Frank, with an all around nice and helpful persona, is the only one of us who has travelled to this area before and will therefore be our happy go lucky tour guide on our free days. With his straw fedora and bright yellow shorts, one would think he is travelling to the Bahamas in the middle of July, not the forty degree rainy weather we are about to experience in Spain. Finally, for our group, we have Denis, a very quiet but extremely friendly friend of mine form my first class and first semester at FIU. I love making him laugh because he doesn’t do it very often and I feel a tiny sense of triumph when he cracks up. The rest of the group consists of a future professor at our school, Aaron Welch, who will be teaching his very first wine course this summer, Ana the TA for Chip who has been a bit difficult to befriend but I would like to establish a friendship during this trip, I have made it a personal goal, her friend Claudia who is nice enough but also very quiet so I have not really been able to connect with and a few other girls and guys who I have yet to become close with, but plan to. For me, this trip is about learning the wines of Rioja, but also making close connections with my peers. My simple reason for that is that I understand that we will one day be working together in this niche industry and in my eyes, we need to stick together. I am not sure that everyone feels the way that I do, but I feel it’s important so that is how I will operate on this trip.
So back to our flight. As I said before, we have boarded without any kind of adult (I find it funny to say adult but I still feel a bit young and that coupled with the fact that I am on a school trip allows me to say that) and many alcoholic beverages have been consumed by Orestes. He says that he prefers wine (we all do) but has taken it upon himself to become inebriated with hard liquor in order to tolerate the journey, understandably. He has also, with the flight attendants blessing, or so he says, somehow managed to smoke his vapour e-cigarette on the plane and is blowing smoke everywhere and terrifying fellow passengers. As the flight progresses he has become more and more Greek and by Greek I mean insanely loud. He has spilled his drink on me twice and sloshed whiskey onto my computer once. He has also been shushed multiple times and has loudly expressed his disdain for the people doing the shushing. All shushers have been within earshot of this. So now, we have solidly placed ourselves in the “annoying student traveller” category. I find it funny when he isn’t walking towards me with a full glass. Then I am scared. He means no harm, we all know this and in order to further prove his harmlessness he has now taken it upon himself to walk around the cabin and helpfully ask people if the blanket on the floor is theirs or refill students drinks with the twenty mini bar bottles of rum and whiskey he managed to finagle from the female flight attendant. Orestes has a way with words and can usually flirt his way into anything. I admire this quality and marvel at the fact that he can simultaneously flatter and annoy someone. Everyone else in the cabin is asleep or entertaining himself or herself and I therefore do not much to say about them.
So we are underway and resting up for the adventure of a wine lifetime. I’ll keep you posted on the next mishap or adventure as we cross the Atlantic towards Old Wine Country. I’m going to shut my computer down before a highly entertaining and intoxicated Greek man spills another drink on it. Se la vie.
Journal written by Nicole Lindares vindepresse.com