Hello, Blog! I am Nicholas Coughlin and I am going to be a Junior at UMass Lowell this coming fall. I took this trip to kickstart my goal to learn a new language. This morning starts off with me and my new friends walking to the bus stop. The walks here are amazing. The wind always cools me as I walk by the river. This sensation is enhanced when I happen to pass by a bakery and the sudden scent of fresh baked goods wafts past. As I walk closer to the bus stop, I see people dressed in vibrant white clothes as well as a piece of red clothing. What I have heard is that they are going to the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
The next thing we do is board the bus and embark upon the sinuous ride to the winery with displays of rolling fields of green and beautiful houses. As we traverse through the beautiful countryside, we start to climb a hill towards the winery. On the left, I see a beautiful golf course right near the water. It reminds me of playing golf with my brother. Once we reach the top of the hill, I see a beautiful vineyard like the ones you see on television or on the bottles of wine that someone would buy in the store. A kind woman approaches us and starts to give us a tour of her winery and explains the process of making wine. She explains that the grapes are ready for harvest in late August, and she tells us that among all the txakoli wineries they make about four million bottles of wine a year. She continues to show us where they store the wine and discard any of the grape remnants. Lastly, she shows us where they bottle the wine. Also, she told us that she was the fifth generation of wine makers in her family and that her sister ran the wine making process as she does the sales portion. Once we learn the process and go in the cold storage area where the wine is fermented, we go up to a balcony to taste the wine with some appetizers. The appetizers consist of cheese, bread, tuna and chorizo. Chorizo is a sausage that is savory and is very common here. My host mom uses it all the time for dinner.
The first wine that she brought out was their famous Txakoli wine. It is a white wine with a little bit of natural carbonation to it. For me, it tasted really good. Then they brought out their rosé wine and that was not too bad either. Of the two, I preferred the white wine more. But the big thing that stood out was the views. I felt like I was in a movie. The vines seemed to go on forever on a sloped hill as the brilliant blue sky seemed to bring it all together.
After the tour, we went to a city right near the winery and started to walk around the streets. The beach there was beautiful and the water looked refreshing as well. We continued to walk around until we met two guys playing guitar and drums. As one began to sing, I took a video to capture the memory of his beautiful voice. At the end of the walk, we went to get gelato. The next stop on the trip was another city. And as soon as we got off the bus, we saw four kids playing a game of handball. This is a game where they would take their hands and hit the ball against the wall until someone would mess up and the other team would score. The crowd cheered as the teams scored. Then, to the right of the court was what seemed to be a drum line. We watched them for a bit and they played really well while changing beats at a good pace. When they finished, we continued on to get some food and I got my favorite dish which was tortilla. Tortilla is a type of dish that is like quiche but fluffier and better tasting. It can have anything in it but I prefer the plain one with potatoes and onions. Later, we returned to the handball courts to be picked up for our return to our home. One of my friends went over to play some handball with one of the kids. I saw that he was enjoying it so I joined with another friend and it was really fun!
Finally, we boarded the bus and went back to San Sebastián. The trip overall was amazing. Not only did I get to see the beautiful winery, but I got to see what the weekend life was like for the locals. It put things into perspective of how things don’t need to be so complicated, and to enjoy life how it is.