Edit Blog Post
Published: March 26th 2010
on Saturday with Melissa, Ida and Brooke in a park with Chillida's sculpture (everyone refers to this thing as "el vater", the toilet!)
Hola a todos!
Again, it has been far too long since I last updated my blog. I started this entry about 2 weeks ago but sadly haven't managed to return to it and finish it until now. I spent a marvelous weekend in Asturias at the end of February. The regions on the northern coast of Spain (including Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country) receive much more rain than other parts of Spain and so in general they have greener landscapes. Within Spain, Asturias is known for its extremely friendly people, its beautiful coastline and interior landscapes and its cider, among other things.
When I was in Madrid in January, I met an English assistant in my program living in Gijón, Asturias named Ida. She is from Nova Scotia, Canada and was visiting her friend Sarah in Madrid, also in my program, who I met in Vienna during my winter travels. Over dinner Ida told me that I should come visit her in Gijón sometime and I decided to take her up on her offer sooner rather than later and we planned my trip for February.
Gijón is the largest city in Asturias and is located on
on Friday on my way to Asturias with Angélica
the Cantabrian Sea. This was my first time in Asturias and it was so refreshing to finally be on the coast again. Angélica, the math teacher in the bilingual program at my school with whom I work is from a town in Asturias very close to Gijón. She goes there pretty much every weekend so I was lucky enough to get a ride with her from Guardo on late Friday morning and then a ride back to Guardo from Asturias on Monday morning. This was a wonderful favor because she saved me a lot of time and money and it was really great to have her company while traveling as well! Angélica dropped me off in Gijón around 2 pm on Friday afternoon and I met Ida and walked to her apartment with her. Ida lives so close to one of Gijón's municipal beaches that you can see it from her apartment balcony! The weather on Friday was excellent--it was really sunny and quite warm (in the 60s)--so after a short rest, we strolled along the beach walkway to the old part of the city, walked through the grassy park on the promontory there, passed the marina and the plaza
making a stop at "el puerto de Pájares" (a really impressive mountain pass right at the border between León and Asturias)
mayor and then looped back. Later in the evening, Ida showed me other parts of the city and we met my friends Melissa and Brooke at the bus station. Unlike me, they both work on Fridays and were coming from much farther away than I was, so they didn't arrive in Gijón until around 9 pm. Ida only had space in her apartment for me to stay so when planning the trip I found a hotel right across the plaza from where Ida lives that had budget prices so Melissa and Brooke stayed there for the weekend. On Friday night the 4 of us went to a Mexican restaurant that served fairly good food and then we went home to bed because we were all pretty tired.
On Saturday morning the 4 of us walked by the beach and down to the old part of town. We pretty much took the same route as on Friday when I went with Ida, but the weather was wonderful again and Brooke and Melissa of course needed to see everything too. We ate lunch at a restaurant by the Plaza Mayor that had really good raciones (larger portions of tapas to share
with people) and of course sidra (cider)! The way you are served cider in the restaurants is interesting because the waiter pours the cider into your glass holding the cider bottle high up in the air so that it kind of splashes into your glass. This is supposed to aerate the cider better and make it taste better. Because the cider is only aerated temporarily after it it poured, you are supposed to drink all the cider in your glass as soon as it is served to you. For this reason they only fill your glass about 1/3 full each time and then for your next glass you have to wait until they come around again to pour you more.... This can be a problem when the waiters aren't very attentive which is often the case in Spain, hehe.
On Saturday afternoon we took a nap and then went for another long walk, this time walking along the beach in the opposite direction. Our goal was to walk all the way to this triangular structure on a promontory in a park that apparently has good views of Gijón but it turned out to be much farther away than we
Ida on her apartment balcony (you can see the beach!!)
thought so we had to turn around before we made it there. It was pretty hot out (high 60s!) and we weren't wearing sufficient walking shoes or carrying enough water so we ended up finding our way to the main road after walking about 2 hours and took a bus back into the city. We were pretty tired after that but it was a fun adventure. Ida had been to the park that we wanted to reach before but had gone by bus and so had never walked along the coastal path that we took to try to get there. It was even new for her.
On Saturday night we went to a birthday party that a friend of Ida's was having in her apartment and it turned out to be a really good time. The birthday girl was Jennifer, an English teacher in Gijón who was half American, half Brazilian. She was really nice and I enjoyed talking with a lot of the guests at her party. Brooke, Melissa and I met several other auxiliares in our program there such as Alex (from Toronto, Canada) and John (from Austin, Texas). After the party we all went out to
during my walk with Ida on Friday afternoon...I LOVE the coast!
a few clubs in the old part of Gijón where the nightlife is especially vibrant. Ida and I got back to her apartment around 6:30 in the morning and I slept until about noon. Later on Sunday Brooke, Melissa and I took a bus to Oviedo (the capital of Asturias that is only a 30 min bus ride from Gijón). There we met up with a friend of Melissa's named Mary who is living in Oviedo and working in 2 pueblos outside the city as an auxiliar in our program. The 4 of us had lunch at a sidrería (cider house/restaurant) in the old part of the city and then we talk a long walk with Mary around Oviedo, seeing all the major parts of the city. Oviedo is a more attractive city than Gijón, which is largely modern apartment buildings. It has a much larger historic center and is the cultural capital of Asturias whereas Gijón is more of the beach capital. Despite this however, I know I would prefer to live in Gijón if I had the choice because I prefer living on the coast! We returned to Gijón around 7 pm and spent the rest of the
the palm trees in the city remind me of Valencia a lot :-D
evening hanging out in Ida's apartment. We ordered Turkish Kebabs and watched the final hockey game of the Winter Olympics: Canada vs. USA! I rarely watch hockey but it was fun to watch considering that Ida and Alex are Candians and Brooke, Melissa and I are Americans. The game was quite exciting at the end too and Canada ended up winning in overtime.
On Monday morning, I left Gijón early to catch a ride back to Guardo with Angélica. I had a wonderful time getting to know Ida better and enjoying the coast for the weekend! We were especially lucky with the weather because it is not usually so sunny and warm in Gijón at the end of February. The weather is usually rainy and unpredictable. By a fluke, a large cyclonic storm that was supposed to affect Asturias with tropical storm force winds and flooding passed by and instead left the coastline with unusually warm and sunny weather for the whole weekend!! It was a welcome change from the weather in Guardo which had been really cold and rainy!
Tot: 1.093s; Tpl: 0.1s; cc: 11; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0469s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 5;
; mem: 1.4mb