Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At least I can say… I´ve lived!!! (First Part)

As more or less all the females I know, I use to hate video games (in this concetp I included pc games and similar). My husband, Curro, is a video games fan and yes, I also was for several years part of that group of women that usually complain about “him” playing long time and feeling like the video game is some kind of unbeatable rival. So, usually, to watch him in front of the pc with a game made immediately my stomach to start to segregate gastric acid not in a nice way. But I should clarify a point here. Problem was not exactly just due the quantity of hours that he spent (now he plays just a bit), in front of the pc playing instead of giving me some attention, ok, that was bad enough but actually the worst part was about the kind of games he usually plays… monsters, blood, violence, explosives sounds… I mean action 3D games for being precise.

In my case, the pc games I like are the mind games, those ones that make you to think or, in case, pacific games like digger, mah jong, tetrix… that kind.

One day, in 2001, we had a dinner with a friend of mine, it was Saturday and 2 hours before the date time, Curro was playing at the pc and definitely not even thinking about getting ready for going out to that dinner. So, I started to remind him our date. Half of hour later, same scenario, me in a ruder way, I should say, reminding him again about the date. 1 hour before the date time, I was really mad due he was still playing and we would need at least 30 minutes to be at the date place. So, I got close to him as much as I can, telling him that he should stop playing or we´ll have problems. But in that moment I saw the screen and first thing that was amazing for me was that it had no monsters but soldiers “working together” for doing something that at that moment I didn´t got exactly what. At that time he already had explained me that he can´t stop till the end of the round or his team won´t be able to save the gold… that was some kind of mars language for me at that moment, but I was completely captivated about those cartoons running around, shooting to the enemy side and helping each other, medics giving life, lieutenant giving ammo, engineers placing dynamite… he explained me a bit more about the game and about how to manage the character, so I asked him if I could try to play while he got ready… and I should say that we were late at that date due my fault! :$

I asked him to please install that game, Return to Castle Wolfestein, in my pc. Please take into consideration that I had never ever played that kind of games before, so, simple things as just shoot while running, was difficult for me, but I was willing to learn in my own speed and by my own, so, Curro just gave me general instructions and with that I start my journey in different servers learning the game. First of all, was important for me to choose a nickname that made obvious I was a girl but not a teen, not a masculine one neither, and I found it: Lady. It was some kind of custom to put the name of your country after the nick, I was living in Spain and already with Spanish nationality, so I decided to use it, then my nick was Lady Spain.

So, once I had the nick I really liked, I start to travel around different servers. In first place I went to Latin-American ones and the experience was terrible. Taking into account that I was still learning how to move (not even how to play!) ;P it was really not difficult for them to believe that I was a woman… but the sexist commentaries wondered me a lot. I decided to move to Spanish servers: more sexist comments but with worst words. So I tried with American servers… yeap, wondering, also sexist comments, I really didn´t expected that. French servers: same thing. Finally at Italian servers it started to become better, no sexist comments, but the point that wondered me was that Italians were the only ones that, while playing, people of the same team were shooting their own colleagues in order to be the ones to carry on the gold. Then I started to play at Swedish, Norwegian and German servers…. YYYYYYEEEEEEAAAAPPPPP!!! FINALLY!!! They respected me and treated me very well, even taking a bit of time to give me some clues to improve my game. :D

RTCW started to be my new vicious. Well, if you look at me, you wouldn´t ever think I could like to play a shooting game, but at that time I loved to play at Swedish, Norwegian and German servers and it started to took up most of my free time. Ah! And just to mention it! I didn´t like to play as a medic but as engineer or lieutenant. ;D

By chance one day I started to play in a German Server named “Quake Lords” and some guys there even started to talk a bit with me (not just about the game I mean). It became into my favorite server and some weeks later even one of them, Eagle, became into my msn friend and time to time he took time to take me to an empty server to teach me a bit more how to play well. Was really nice to find people my age playing that game! So, more and more I spent my whole playing time at QL´s server and the rest of QL´s and other fans that also played there became into my game friends, with some of them I also had a msn friendship. I had been the only one female playing with them for so many months. It was really funny! Oh! I really enjoyed that! Point is that you really feel like you would be “doing something”, like the team work you have done at the game was in something real, not just inside a pc… yes! I started to understand Curro! :D (But rarely we played together, he liked, of course, to play at Spanish servers and for me all the times that I tried it the experience was terrible, so no reason why to lose my time in that way).

More or less a year after I started to play with them and just by chance, talking with my good friend Voni (one of the QL´s), I really don´t remember who asked whom, but point is he told me QL´s never invited people to belong to the klan so I told him I would love to be part of QL´s but I knew it was just for males and Germans… so he told me it wasn´t true… then I asked if I could be part of the clan! :D

It took more time than usual for them to decide if I could be part of the klan… yeap! First of all because I was a female!! :/ But also the language was a problem because they talked with each other with Team Speak and my German is so, so basic (enough for not to die if I need to eat in a German speaking country or to ask someone if speaks English!) and for them it wouldn´t be so comfortable to talk in English while talking, specially at klan wars… but… wondering! They accepted me!!! :))))))) So I become into QL – Lady Spain :D
Watch this video! (But you really will understand the funny part of it if you know RTCW)

(To be continued)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On the route: Sierra de Guadarrama

Spain is a big country with a lot of areas quite different from each other due their geography and weather. When it´s summer in Spain you can find temperatures as 50 C. degrees in places like Seville. Some times when you are in a place with a beach or a lake, you can live with that, but in places like Madrid, 30 C. degrees could make you to despair. That far, for so many years and till no more than 8 years, almost all the companies closed in August (the month with the highest temperatures), so all the workers should have vacations in August. I can remember my first August in Madrid, the streets completely deserts.

With the time, maybe because the prices of hotels, tours, flights, etc. were so high in August (as far as it was the only one month where most of the families in most of the Spanish Communities can go on vacations), maybe because when a company has an international market they can´t just close for a whole month (in Spain workers have 22 working days as vacations), or who knows exactly why! :D more companies are working on August, but anyway an important quantity of people go out of Madrid in summer time. This year it was remarkable from July 15th. to August 15th.

In my case, I prefer to stay in Madrid in August. First of all, due the prices, they are still higher during August, but also due the quantity of people at tourist places during that period. I love to swim in water, not in people! ;) Or to feel that I can talk with my family taking the sun at the beach without 20 other people around me hearing what I´m saying… or to hear the music I would like to hear instead of the mix of 6 different styles of the people around me (that are that close due at the beach you have no space, that it feels like if all of them are actually going with you!). And I prefer not to start to talk about what you can find at the sand, due this blog is for talking about nice experiences!!! ;P

But also I love to stay in Madrid in August due how easy is to go wherever you want, with fluid traffic, with no noise at the streets, finding place where to seat in rush hours at the subway, with space enough to watch what you want at the shops, finding places to seat at the restaurants, almost no lines at cinemas, with almost no lines for going inside a discotheque… uuuuuuuuuuufffffffffff!!! It´s marvelous to enjoy Madrid this way! :))

On the other hand, if you want to go to Madrid´s surroundings, also is the best time to do it! Fluid traffic (and people not driving as fast as usual), enough places where to eat, relaxed routes on foot… lovely! :)

So, as far as routes around Madrid are something that you can easily find in internet or at travel agencies, this time let me present you my alternative route at la Sierra de Guadarrama.

Let´s start at Rascafría. It takes like an hour and a half to get there in car, in case you haven´t stop in some of the towns you find before, like San Agustín del Guadalix, el Molar, Lozoyuela or Lozoya, that are nice.

I had the good luck to found a Handcraft Fair in Lozoya, here some pics:

I recommend in special way Rascafría for eating. It has a lot of restaurants and cafeterias, one of my favorites is “El Candil” but I´m afraid it´s not exactly a cheap one. Here some pics of Rascafría and El Candil:

I also recommend visiting the Monastery of Santa María del Paular that had been transformed into a great Sheraton hotel, here some views:

To drive at Puerto de Navacerrada is also a nice experience.

You also can find there good resting spaces for drivers where you can walk a bit and I really recommend you to drink water at their fountains, it´s the same one you can buy in bottles but fresher! ;P

I would suggest you, after enjoying that area, to finish your day tour at “Los Frutales” in Cercedilla. It has great gardens where to walk a bit, you can dine inside the restaurant or at the terraces under the trees.

Enjoy the summer!!! :D

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Breakfast in Guatemala: Sunday Brunch

First of all I want to explain what brunch is, for the ones that don´t know it. Brunch is a mix of breakfast and lunch. So, it contains food that you would find at breakfast like eggs but also the kind of you can find at lunch like chicken and great desserts.

The brunch is original from Great Britain and is something very common in USA, but in Guatemala it started just around 20 years ago. The ones offering brunches in Guatemala are 4 or 5 stars hotels, offering a great buffet, usually from 11.00 to 15.00 hrs. It´s amazing the quantity of great dishes you can find at those brunches! And a big variety of excellent desserts! :D

At the beginning all the hotels that offer Sunday Brunch Buffet also allows you to use the swimming pool as part of the offer (I mean, even if you weren´t hosted there, just for going to take the brunch there, you can also use the swimming pool) and it was a great way to spend a Sunday with the family and/or friends… but now just some hotels still allow it and mostly not in Guatemala City. Anyway, I really recommend enjoying a brunch at least once in life in a Guatemalan Hotel. :) And in some hotels you can even pay for using the swimming pool in case you want it.

Here my favorite hotels in Guatemala for going to have the Sunday Brunch:

Hotel Camino Real

This hotel is the first 5 stars hotel in Guatemala City that really made honor to the stars. It´s quite huge, with a lot of different areas. With one of the best hotel´s restaurants of the city, also has the Wien café, that is just great.

Here a promotional video, just a bit old one but haven´t found any other more recent…

Grand Tikal Futura

At the beginning it was part of the Hyatt chain, I´m afraid no more. Anyway the food quality is still very good and also the atmosphere.

Here a video:

And some of my pics:

Crown Plaza las Américas

I had live quite nice moments with my family taking the brunch at this hotel! :D Wondering, I have no pics, no video found I´m afraid, but here a pic of the front:

Hotel Marriot Guatemala

Known “in my times” as El Dorado, also one of the hotels with tradition at the City that I´m afraid had change the chain quite a lot of times, but it didn´t affected the good quality of this good hotel.

And the ones that offer Brunch in Antigua Guatemala and I like. They do offer the use of the swimming pool when you take the brunch:

Hotel Porta Antigua

This hotel is definitely part of the history of Antigua Guatemala. Just from few years ago is part of the Porta hotels and before that was managed by a nice Guatemalan family. Part of the staff had been working at the hotel for more than 20 years, those are people that just love what they do and you really can note it.

This is my favorite one if we talk about having brunch in the whole Guatemala.

Here some of my pics:

Hotel Soleil Antigua

For me was the Ramada Hotel, as far as it was part of that hotels chain, but some years ago it changed into Soleil.

It´s like a classic in Antigua but I haven´t found videos of it, I´m afraid.

Here some pics:

Hotel Villa Colonial

This hotel is new, actually I still don´t know it, but my friend “Chofo” that lives in Antigua Guatemala, told me for him this is the best option for taking brunch. So, if someone that lives there recommends it, it should be really good! :D I´ll have to go there in my next visit to Guatemala! ;P

Here a video:

I really hope you had enjoyed my posts regarding breakfasts in Guatemala. I should say I didn´t thought it would take that many posts when I started it, but I really have enjoyed to write about something that is a real sign of Guatemalans.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Breakfast in Antigua Guatemala: Where to Go

Antigua Guatemala is a magic place with a very interesting history. At the colony time, Guatemala included the whole Central America plus part of the south of Mexico. Due different reasons, the country´s capital had to be moved several times, the second last was placed where now is Antigua Guatemala (that´s the reason of the name, that in some way means “it was Guatemala at the old times”). The real name of the city at that time was “La muy Noble y muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala” (trying to translate it in to English: the very Noble and very Loyal City of Knights of Santiago of Guatemala, that was a title given by the Spanish Crown). In 1773 2 earthquakes took place so close one to the other and reduced the city into ruins and it was needed to move it again.

Years later people went again to live there, but they kept the original constructions and even till now not the whole town is already rebuilt… and that´s exactly part of what makes it magical! Now it´s catalogued as World Heritage by UNESCO and there´s a law avoiding people to build with a different style but the colonial one. As far as it´s placed at just 35 minutes from Guatemala City, it´s quite normal to go there to spend the weekend or at least part of it.

Yeap! Sure! Antigua Guatemala deserves its own blog! :) And quite a lot of posts! This was just an introduction for the ones that still haven´t the pleasure of meeting it. ;P

Click here to watch a great video done by Hotel Santo Domingo.

Here some views of Antigua Guatemala:

There are quite a lot of places where to stay and to go to eat in Antigua Guatemala, but here my favorites for going to have breakfast:

Doña Luisa de Xicotencatl

The name of the place is taken from the name of an Indian Princess gave by her father to Pedro de Alvarado (Spanish Conqueror of Guatemala), not exactly as a wife (afterwards he has his Spanish legal wife), but actually they both had a daughter…. But that´s another story! ;)

This cafeteria is famous due the house it´s situated, a quite nice colonial house with a big garden, and also due the food that has a remarked European style (I think the owners are from Europe… maybe from Germany). They make their own bread and also have a store selling their delicious bread.

To go there on weekends to take the breakfast is a real classic!

I´m afraid I have no pics of their breakfasts and I didn´t found at internet, but here some of the restaurant:

Hotel Casa Santo Domingo

This is definitely my favorite hotel in the whole world. Ok, at least of the part of the world I know! :P Actually it´s a 5 stars Museum-Hotel. They had rebuilt a colonial convent, but taking care of conserving the original style and even the original master pieces of the convent are exhibited at the museum part (but also decorating rooms and corridors). It´s full with quite original details… like having the swimming pool at the old fountain (I mean: you swim inside a fountain! But it had been rebuilt as swimming pool).

Here a video with the story of the hotel (I´m afraid it´s in Spanish):

In this one you can see a lot of different areas of the hotel (as well in Spanish but you don´t need to understand the dialog to appreciate the beauty of the place):

Here some of my own pics:

Its restaurant had win a lot of international prices, so, it´s always a great idea to eat there! :D

Filadelfia Coffee Resort & SPA

This is a coffee farm where lately also contains a hotel and a restaurant. The owners are really visionaries and had included interesting activities like canopy, bird watching tours, mule rides and coffee tours… my only one complain is about the prices… very, very, very high ones! :( But it´s a great place for going to eat, also with very good breakfasts! :D

Some pics of Finca Filadelfia:

Here a video about the canopy at Finca Filadelfia:

The view:

La Fonda de la Calle Real Antigua

This is a real classic. Opened in 1975 and specialized in Guatemalan typical food, it´s considered as one of the best Guatemalan typical food restaurants. Decorated as if it would be founded some centuries ago (with and old kitchen and rustic chairs), also owns part of its charm to the walls that are “decorated” with quite a lot of proverbs written there.

Here some pics of the place:

It´s a place you have to go at least once, of course also has great breakfasts, but maybe I would recommend, in case you have to choose, to go there for a formal meal instead.

Other great places in Antigua:

Café la Escalonia

This is a nursery and a cafeteria. Great environment for having breakfast! :D I´m afraid I haven’t found their web and I have no pics of it, but it´s really a nice experience to eat there.

Café de la Ópera

El Sereno

This is a precious place, worth view, just I have to admit I haven´t been there to take breakfast, but if they are as good as other meals, you should try them! ;P

In general, the restaurants of 4 and 5 stars hotels in general, are quite recommendable in whole Guatemala as well. :)