American in Spain

Dentist, Hotel, Restaurant

June 3, 2007

We had a very busy weekend, with most of the agenda being wedding-oriented. On Friday, Marga had an orthodontist appointment in Vitoria. Still no specific date on braces removal, but they have been informed several times of the October ultimatum, and they have set the next appointment for three weeks time, which is a pleasing acceleration from the normal 6-week intervals.

The orthodontists' office is in this rather nicely landscaped square in Vitoria called the Plaza De Los Fueros. There were some people practicing and playing pelota a mano, a strange Basque cousin of racquetball played with bare hands.

revver(289469) Having a beer

Fresh off my success with a beer foreground photo and bored out of my mind, this pensive shot was the best of a few dozen that I took with my camera sitting on a napkin dispenser in the bar below the orthodontist office while I waited for Marga.

The Church

Church Scaffolding

I decided to use some of my connections and gave ol' Zing-Zing (that's His Holiness to you) a call to see if they couldn't do a little facade work on the church I'm going to be married in. I hate to call in favors, but sometimes things don't get done any other way.

The Hotel

Hotel Mondragon

This is Hotel Mondragon, where we've booked rooms for all the Americans that will be attending. Guests' names have been given and rooms are officially reserved. When we fill up the rooms we've reserved at the other, less swanky, hotel with visiting Spaniards, then we will try to fit the other English speakers from the UK in with the yanks. The receptionist claims that all the receptionists speak English. The rooms will cost 52€ per night with breakfast not included. That seems a little pricey, especially with all the business we're bringing, but I wouldn't count on us being able to talk them down much from there.

Hotel Mondragon

Three stars, apparently. The nice thing about this hotel is that it's a straight shot from the Extremadura Cultural Center to the hotel, just following the river.

On Saturday, we had another double birthday celebration in the Extremadura Cultural Center.

Watching television

Marga's cousins didn't care about much besides the motorcycle race on television.

Chilled Wine

I was in charge of keeping the wine cool.


The first course was shrimp, clams, and those weird fake gulas that are not that unlike pasta.

Shrimp Moustache

Grandpa Ramón complains that the shrimp didn't shave for the occasion.

Family Dinner

Candid mid-meal shot.

Birthday Cakes

Two cakes.


Cousin Rubén, born in 1985, turned 22.

Redhead baby

Rubén's adorable redhead cousin tried to help blow on the candles.

Manoli 53

Aunt Manoli, born in 1954, two days after Jerry Seinfeld, turned 53.


Rubén's cake is written in Basque.


Manoli's in Spanish.

Erik and Tia Marga

A great shot of Aunt Marga and her favorite American nephew.


Mmm! Flan!

Flan and Cake Brandy Advert

Happiness is served in a snifter.

Chupito de Hierba

Uncle Ramón thinks his grass liqueur isn't quite full.


A good candid laughter shot.

Erik on the bridge

This is me being an idiot and having my photo taken at exactly 19:00, one hour earlier than I was supposed to to participate in the A Minute In The Life project. Instead, by complete chance, exactly 60 minutes later, I took this shot:


There was some sort of a German-oriented beer and sausage festival going on. Normally I would prick up my ears and wag my tail at that sentence, but we were so stuffed from our meal that we just passed right through.

Pipi Can

Comically awkward drawings of canine defecation amuse me, but normally aren't worth photographing. What's great about this sign is the usage of the word "Pipi-Can". Apparently that's what the fecal receptacles are called. I don't know any Basque, but I've got a guess at what "kakak" means.

The Restaurant

I just realized that I didn't get any shots of the outside of the wedding restaurant, Etxe-Aundi. We went there to get a few questions answered. The big debate at the moment is whether or not we will try to serve a little refresher snack at the restaurant, before heading to the Extremadura Cultural Center to continue the party, or if we will do it later at the ECC. The woman that runs Etxe-Aundi is one of those people that is so nice and helpful that it's a pleasure to do business with her.

Oil Painting of Etxe Aundi

This oil painting of the restaurant is the first thing you see when you enter the restaurant (or their website).

Bar Selection

An artsy shot looking into the bar. To all of the guests that were concerned about the possibility of there not being any Jägermeister at the wedding, you can put your fears to rest.


Some nice flowers at a side building near the restaurant.

Slide to Nowhere

On the other side of this garden, to the left of the photo, is a 30-foot drop down to a river (that's the top of a tree, not a bush). This is some sort of a canal that powers (or used to) a mill in the building in the previous picture. First of all, what a strange place for a garden. Second of all, there didn't seem to be any place to get back out of the canal once this slide had been followed to its abrupt end.

With our questions answered, we headed back to Mondragon...

Wine and Snacks

This is a vision of happiness. Drinking and snacking before the main meal of the day. With the current management (the bar is rented out to the highest bidder) at the Extremadura Cultural Center, they don't give snacks with drinks, as is the custom in southern Spain. So the clientèle have begun bringing things from home. On the far left is what is left of some morcilla that Juan and I brought (he bought it in his home town, Zahí­nos, when he visited for Easter), then some cheese that Grandpa Ramón brought, and the foil on the right held bread that we brought (you can't eat morcilla without bread!). Wine is never better than when consumed with a good strong queso.


Alejo thought he looked good next to these plastic flowers. He's kind of like Juan's Jeff.

Skeet Trophy

And finally, this skeet shooting trophy in the trophy case intrigued me in my inebriated state. You can almost read the writing on the shotgun shells.

I took some other good photos this weekend too, but I'm gonna save them for future posts.