a weekend in Oviedo

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

A Weekend in Oviedo, Spain

So far on my year abroad I've managed to explore three lovely places around Castilla y León; Valladolid, Segovia and Ávila. This weekend myself and two very close friends organised to meet in Oviedo, where one of them is studying at the university. It was lovely to play tourist with someone who already knew their way around!

After a stressful morning (I set my alarm for 8:15, and woke up at quarter to 10) running to catch the 10 o' clock coach, having forgotten half my stuff (fantastic), I arrived luckily two minutes before it was due to set off. The coach took about four hours from Salamanca to Oviedo, and I hoped to catch up on sleep to pass the time. However, the little time I had to get my stuff together left me frazzled and grumpy, meaning I remained awake the whole journey. To pass the time I preoccupied myself with a few podcasts and lots of music.

I couldn't wait to get off the stuffy coach once I finally arrived, and it felt as if I was seeing family once again for the first time in ages (September) as we reunited at the bus station. Oviedo is probably slightly bigger than Salamanca, it's certainly not a very walkable city unless you really like the exercise. Once we had dumped my stuff at the apartment, we got into some more comfortable gear and set off towards the Monumento Sagrado Corazón de Jésus (Sacred monument of Jesus). We hadn't anticipated just how long, difficult and steep the walk would've been, because Izzy had been with Erasmus on a coach.

We began optimistically, finding ourselves leaving the main city and strolling through a slightly uphill village. We became a little lost as we turned onto various people's private roads, when we gained hope as we saw a path a little further up a grassy slope which lead onto a main (and walkable) path. Spaniards walking along this path gave us strange looks as we attempted not to slip and fall to our deaths, marginally missing thorn bushes along the way. When we reached the top, we were presented a gate with a wiry piece of metal twisted around the opening. One very angry woman shouted something along the lines of good luck/you idiots/stupid foreigners as she strode past us.

We realised our mistake as we saw a very steep hill leading up to the path, and a quite hilarious situation ensued. One sympathetic old man noticed our distress and offered up his walking stick to haul us to flat ground, while his cute bulldog watched in curiosity. I certainly had never felt so much like an English tourist in all my life, clumsy, confused and idiotic all at once. As we recovered from our blunder, we carried on up the long slog towards the top of the mountain. It took us about 1 hour and a half, and we felt a huge sense of achievement, tiredness and closeness and we sat on a bench overlooking the beautiful city lit up in gold contrasting the thick fog from the mountain.

A Weekend in Oviedo, Spain
However, it was getting dark, and we hadn't considered how we might get back down the mountain, as the route we'd taken wasn't exceptionally well lit. Two other groups were also at the top, one of these a loud and intimidating group of Spaniards who were shouting and singing English songs towards us (brilliant) and the other a much less threatening couple. We gathered the courage first to ask them to take a photo of us, and before we let them get away, Izzy asked if they would mind giving us a lift back to the city. They were from Galicia, and so incredibly friendly! All the way down the mountain we were chatting and getting to know them a little more. Once we arrived in the town, we thanked them and bid them farewell.

Our first meal of the weekend was fantastic, in the old town area of Gascona. In one street restaurant after restaurant is lined up, with waiters standing outside every one hoping to reel diners in. We saw a few good deals, but we finally settled on a two course set meal to share between three. This included two huge starters, two good sized mains and two desserts for 36 euros. One thing I find odd about eating in Spain is that locals prefer to stand at the bar, and pick at little tapas plates and drink, before later sitting down to eat in normally the same place. People were giving us odd looks as we sat down straight away, whilst they preferred to huddle at the crowded bar for an hour or so in the same place!

Unlike Salamanca, every waiter who came to the table insisted on asking us where we were from, and then asking us if we preferred English, despite the fact that I said every single time that we needed to practise our Spanish, so no English please. I'm not sure if it's because Oviedo has more tourists than Salamanca, since it's easier to access from the North, or they were just trying to accommodate us, but it really annoyed us! Oviedo also has its own speciality sidra (cider) which bizarrely has to be poured by the waiter, in which they hold the bottle high up in the air and drizzle it into glasses, in shot measurements. It tasted a little different to English cider, it had a little spicy kick to it which I really enjoyed.

The next day was spent wandering around the city, shopping, eating and drinking at our own pace. We had a good old giggle in the huge park, complemented with questionable whiffs of la hierba (weed) floating by at various points. In the evening Izzy had a small botellón (pre drinks) in her flat and we met more of her friends. Later we went out to a bar/club that played all English music, which was wonderful to hear since practically nowhere in Salamanca plays it in the clubs. We didn't stay out as long as most normally do (6-7) since my coach left at half 11, and I had no intention of repeating the same living nightmare when arriving! Nevertheless it was an enjoyable night.

Oviedo was an exciting city, with not as much old town as beloved Salamanca has, but with plenty to offer in terms of entertainment and night life. It was lovely to catch up with the girls and explore a little as well!

Have you been to Oviedo? What must I see next time? Thanks for reading!


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A Weekend in Oviedo, Spain

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