"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness" ~ Mark Twain

Friday, December 17, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

The lights are strung down the streets of Vitoria and the human sized Nativity scene is now open to the public, there is no doubt that Christmas is nearly here. Though we thought we would be alone for the holidays, turns out we have two elves on the way. My brother, Junior, and his girlfriend, Diana, will arrive in Spain the morning of Christmas Eve to keep us company through New Year's Day.

As part of their visit, I've planned a road trip to Madrid and it's a pretty tight schedule. We'll head out from Vitoria December 27 and stop in Salamanca to visit one if the oldest universities in Europe, then Segovia to see one of the most well preserved Roman aqueducts as well as the castle that inspired the Disney version, then El Greco's favorite town of Toledo, past Don Quixote's windmills and into Madrid arriving December 30.

So in case we don't speak until the new year, we wanted to wish you a very Happy Holiday season from across the Atlantic. We'll try to catch up soon, but in the meantime we're sending warm wishes your way.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! XOXO

Vanessa & Will

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Weekend in Milano

In lieu of the Thanksgiving break we would have celebrated back in the states, we took advantage of the 3 days that the Spanish have off in early December to visit Milan. It was a cold few days with a mix of rain and sleet, but we managed to stay warm with plenty of cappuccinos and wine.

The crown jewel of Milan is of course the Duomo, which is a massive structure that rises from the center of the city. The Gothic cathedral is one of the largest churches in the world, with an exterior covered in huge slabs of a pinkish colored marble. It was truly an impressive sight.

The highlight of the trip for us was the visit to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. The convent's refectory houses Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper mural. Tickets have to be purchased in advance as only groups of 25 are permitted to visit at a time, and only for 15 minutes. The painting started deteriorating only 6 years after da Vinci completed it, due to a technique that he was experimenting with. It underwent a 20 year restoration (1979-99) and in effort to further preserve it, visitors must go through a series dehumidifying chambers before entering the room. We could have stood there for hours marveling at the fresco.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exciting Press Coverage of the MIT CityCar

The CityCar has been in the news recently, both locally and back in the States. Here in Vitoria there was a press event on Friday that spotlighted a handful of Spanish companies that have signed on to manufacture key components of the vehicle. Back home the MIT Media Lab recently celebrated its 25 year anniversary and the CityCar was one of three concepts featured in a CNN story.

CNN Video


Press Articles



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Laguardia's Medieval Charm

Being so close to Spain's prized Rioja Wine Valley, we're trying to make it around to all of the amazing little towns scattered throughout the province of Alava. This weekend we took a day trip to the hilltop town of Laguardia, a 13th century medieval walled village. It has a fully intact protective stone wall that encircles the entire town, with four entrance gates with massive wooden doors. From just about anywhere on the hill you get wonderful view of the the wine valley below.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Ciao Venezia!

We are just getting back from our first visit to Venice and I already wish we could go back to wander around the streets of each sestiere (Venetian district). Though we were concerned about the heavy rain we were expecting during the weekend, we lucked out and only got light rain on and off on Sunday. We bundled up and managed to see all of the sights I crammed into our crazy itinerary.

Of course the main attraction of St. Mark's Basilica was the first stop, followed by a trip up the bell tower for a breathtaking view of the city. We finished off the first night with a low key dinner and drinks at the Venice Jazz Club. We spent the second and rainy day taking in Venetian masterpieces at the Galleria dell'Accademia, followed by a visit through the Doge's Palace for more amazing art. We spent our last half day in Venice meandering through the streets around the Rialto Bridge while doing some shopping in the glass and leather stores.

The pictures of Venice are beautiful but it's a city you just have to see for yourself. Ciao!



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back from the City of Angels

After a quick trip to Boston to apply for Will's research visa, we're now back in Vitoria. It was nice catching up with our friends and family in Beantown after a long summer. We were also able to take a side trip to Los Angeles for a week. We managed to get in a beach day with our godson, Julian, and a Dodgers vs. Phillies game with the Diaz crew. It's always a short stay but always a fun trip. Next stop, Italy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paris Anniversary Weekend

In celebration of our nuptials, we spent the weekend in "The City of Light." And it did not disappoint, as it was just as romantic as I imagined. Au revoir Paris, thanks for the memories.

Fiestas de la Virgen Blanca in Vitoria

The annual celebration of the Virgen Blanca kicked off on August 4 in the town plaza with roughly 40,000 people. The tradition is that at 6PM the Celedon (toy man) comes down from the church tower into one of the local's balcony. As he makes his way down, the crowd erupts in cheer and an enormous champagne shower ensues. Good times.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where in the world are Will & Vanessa?

Although it's still somewhat tentative, I wanted to share our aggressive travel itinerary for the next year. This way you have plenty of notice and no excuse to not visit us in Europe. If you don't want to come see us here in the lil' ol' town of Vitoria, then you can pick any of the other destinations on the newly added Travel Tracker and meet us there. See you soon!

Campeones de la Copa Mundial

We had a crazy weekend capped off with a thrilling win for Espana. We went down to the town plaza to watch the match outdoors with all the locals. It was such an exciting atmosphere and we certainly felt lucky to be here to experience the win.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MIT Media Lab in the Press

An interesting CNET article recently profiled the MIT Media Lab and the work that several groups are doing, including the City Car that Will's group is working on.

Article Link

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pamplona Festival

We were lucky enough to spend a day in Pamplona taking in the festivities of the week long Fiesta de San Fermin. We had an early start in order to get to there in time for the 8 AM Running of the Bulls (El Encierro). Though the lines along the narrow streets were already 10-15 people deep when we got there, we managed to get a glimpse of some runners and the backside of a bull. It's only a half mile long route so you really only see 10 seconds of the race if you can get a spot along the wooden rails the guide the bulls to the Plaza de Toros.

Though the view was limited that morning the energy wasn't. Hundreds of people were up celebrating and drinking- actually they probably never stopped from the night before. I expected to be overwhelmed but we had a very good experience. Surprisingly, there were lots of families out enjoying the marching bands and dancing in the town plaza.

Friday, July 9, 2010

European Travels

We've been making the best of our weekends to get out and get to know our surrounding areas. I've added a Photo Gallery section so you can view the pictures from our day trips to the some very amazing hidden jewels here in Northern Spain.

I'll also be adding a Travel Tracker section to keep a record of the places we've been and those still to come. So, feel free to use that calendar to plan you visits...yes we expect to have your company!

Suerte La Roja!

I thought the sports highlight of my summer was going to be the Lakers Championship, but it appears that that was only the beginning. It has been a nonstop celebration on this side of the Atlantic with Nadal's Wimbledon win last Sunday and this week's win for Spain.

It's safe to say that this weekend will be all chaos for us here in Espana. We're off to Pamplona on Saturday for the Running of the Bulls and back to Vitoria on Sunday to watch Spain in the World Cup Finals!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Professor Bill Mitchell's Legacy

I just wanted to share that Will's much beloved advisor, professor Bill Mitchell, passed away on June 11 after a long battle with cancer. His students are continuing to work hard to make his vision of the Smart City CityCar a reality.

MIT News Office Link

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lakers over Celtics, baby!!!

I can't decide whether it would have been better to have been watching the game in Boston or LA last night. The victory made the 3 AM local start time here in Vitoria well worth the sleepless night. Though I was only able to watch the first 3 quarters of the game online through some random person's Skype session, and listen to the last quarter on ESPN Radio- it was amazing! Let the haters come out of the woodwork.

Mexico 2- France 0!

Forgetting our proximity to France, we were a lonely group of 5 cheering on Mexico at the local Irish Pub last night.

...and just a preview of our Godson and future soccer sensation, Julian Diaz.

Basketball Champions here in our backyard

The Spanish Basketball finals just wrapped up on June 15 and our local team, Caja Laboral Vitoria, are the 2010 champs! There was a huge celebration down at the Plaza De La Virgen Blanca yesterday afternoon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Royal Encounter in London

We spent our first weekend in Europe in London attending one of Prince Charles' charity events where they auctioned off a Hiriko car- once it's in production of course. Will, 2 project directors and us WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends- a new term I picked up this weekend) attended the function this past Saturday at the Holland & Holland Shooting Ground outside of London. There were about 100 guests, among them some royalty including a Lady, a Baroness and socialite Ivana Trump. Will had the unexpected encounter of sitting next to her during lunch and she told him the car was "very cute." She then proceeded to bid on a 20 year old personal trainer- and yes she won. Pip Pip Cheerio!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Good-Bye Boston, Hola Espana

Hello friends and family,

After 10 years in Boston we are packing up and heading out. Though our plans were to head back west right about now, we're moving another 3,500 miles east to Spain.

As many of you know, my mad scientist of a husband, Will, has been working feverishly to complete his PhD. In short, his thesis has been focused on redesigning the automobile to be part of new mobility system that works intelligently with its environment.

Anyhow, the amazing news is that a company in Spain has finalized an agreement with MIT to manufacture a full-scale prototype, with the hope of developing a fleet of vehicles for the city of Madrid. Because this design has been central to his research, they have offered Will the opportunity to relocate to Bilbao to help oversee the development of the vehicle.

So, start packing your bags because we expect to see you in Europe!