Heading North. A trip from Alicante to Oviedo

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Europe » Spain » Principality of Asturias » Oviedo
November 25th 2019
Published: January 28th 2020
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Our plan is to leave at 9am this morning so that we get to Oviedo at a reasonable time, but at 9am I am still in the shower washing my hair so that's definitely not going to happen. However, I am actually ready by quarter past 9 so in the end it’s not too much of a delay. It doesn’t actually matter in the end as Greg is still loading (and trying to fit in) the last couple of bags into the car, which is already at bursting point. There is only a 2 inch gap left between the back seat and the roof, but Greg is still determined to fit in our 32inch tv screen as well. I am pretty adamant it won't fit but Greg loves to prove me wrong by finding a tiny corner to slide it in. On top of that, the dog decides there is too much excitement going on so refuses to eat his dinner, meaning we have to coax him to try and eat at least part of it, which takes a good 20 minutes or so. Honestly sometimes it’s like having a toddler rather than a dog. So after all that, it's nearly 10am by the time we get going. It feels sad to be leaving our flat in Spain knowing we won't be living there permanently any more, and it is also more than likely it will be the last time Nacho is there 😞 But I'm still too stressed to feel as melancholic as I would have otherwise.

Unfortunately we need to stop off at our vets in Alicante before we head on to Asturias to get nacho's worming tablets, as the law states he must take them between 1 and 5 days before entering the country and we know we will be travelling for 4 of them so it’s a necessity. It means it adds another hour and a half detour on to our time which is a bit of a pain. Eventually we are ready to get going at 11.30am. I type our destination into the sat nav and it tells us it should take about 8 hours to get there which is what we originally thought. But that's taking the toll road the whole way and Greg has a mini meltdown at the thought of the extra cost. I check how long it will take to get there on the non toll roads and it adds on an extra hour, which I don't think I have in me. We compromise and agree we will do the non toll road to Madrid and then do tolls from there, which should half the cost and only add half an hour onto the journey so we are both okay with that.

It's as long a drive as we expect it to be and when we reach Madrid (which is only about half way), it feels like we have been travelling for about 10 hours, not 4 and a half. It's quite incredible when we are diverted onto a new road which takes us through the middle of what used to be Real Madrid's old football stadium. The stands are still there to the left and the right of us whilst we drive through where the pitch used to be. We stop a couple more times for coffee and to let the dog stretch his legs, which adds more time to our journey and so we eventually arrive at 9pm, absolutely shattered and very hungry. With my amazing navigation skills (sponsored by google maps), we find the hotel much easier than anticipated and are impressed at our room which also has a kitchenette, a hallway and a huge bathroom. They've even left a dog bowl for Nacho which is a nice touch and I actually think I could quite possibly live here. We dump our stuff and head to a little kebab shop we have spotted round the corner, as we are looking for something fast that will fill us up. We haven't eaten anything substantial since we finished our sandwiches at about 1pm, so are in need of food and pronto. We both order a chicken kebab and chips and inhale it within about a minute flat. It feels so nice to be able to stretch out after sitting in a space the size of a box for so long. It’s not long before we succumb to the tiredness and effects of our kebab belly and manage to fall asleep quickly.

We don't sleep in too late the next morning due to getting a pretty early night (well, midnight, which is early for us!). Obviously Greg hasn’t really looked at things to do so I have a little check of things to see in Oviedo so that we actually have a plan instead of just wandering around aimlessly hoping to stumble upon things. Number one on the list is the Gothic Cathedral, so that's where we decide to start our day. It's a beautiful, impressive building which is, as described, very gothic. As we have the dog we can't go inside, so carry onto our next destination which is San Francisco park. Greg's Google maps takes us on a bit of a detour via the shopping district (it obviously knows me well) where we stumble across a statue of a big butt. I daren't ask Greg if it looks bigger than mine.

Eventually we make our way into the park, well, a park at least. We're not quite sure it's the right one as there are quite a few dotted about the city. As we walk through, we unexpectedly but rather pleasantly stumble upon a little enclosed dog park with a few dogs playing inside. We figure it would be nice for Nacho to make a few amigos so we head inside to let him burn off some energy. It's a nice mix of dogs and I laugh as a collie runs over to me and deposits a stick at my feet to throw, which I do. So Nacho and the collie have a good run around chasing sticks for a while. Afterwards, we walk down to the duck pond and then through the rest of the park, which with all it's Autumn foliage is so pretty with the sun shining through all the different coloured leaves. I love the crunch of the leaves underfoot as we walk along. We stop to have a look at the map to check we are in the right park, but still can't figure it out, so Greg asks an elderly woman walking by what the name of the park is. She stops for a chat and tells us we are in the right park and then gives us a little history about it and why it is called the San Francisco park. She says the park is named after a man who used to run the garden as a vegetable allotment, and used to feed all the poor and needy people of the city. She asks where we're from and when we tell her Scotland, her eyes light up and she tells us she has been to Scotland and loved it. We ask where she stayed even though we already know the answer is Edinburgh. She shakes our hands and tells us to enjoy her city, which we intend to.

We meander through the park some more and then along through the streets lined with cafes, patiserries and of course ‘sidrerias’ (little cider houses) until we happen across Calle Gasgona, the most famous street of the Cider houses. We stop off for a coffee (as you do on cider street) as it's still a little too early for us to get on the hard stuff. The waiter is serving a table along from us who are actually drinking cider and it is very theatrical to watch. The way he holds the cider bottle above his head and the glass below his waist whilst he cascades the cider into the glass, inevitably spilling a few drops on the floor. We'll definitely need to try some later.

It's 2pm by now and Nacho has had quite a mammoth walk, so we opt to leave him back at the hotel for a snooze while we do some more exploring. The weather has turned really nice and is about 20 degrees and sunny, which makes it lovely and pleasant for walking around. Last night when I was reading up about Oviedo, I read about a UNESCO world heritage site just outside of the city, which is a 9th century Romanesque church. It looks pretty cool so even though it says it is approximately a 3.5km walk, we are quite happy to get a bit of exercise. It soon becomes apparent the church is at the top of a very steep and long hill, which I later realise is actually called Mount Naranjo. I stupidly didn't think to read the description that the church is on the slope of a mountain! Even worse, I have chosen to wear my big, heavy boots on the premises it was going to be cold, so my poor little feet are absolutely sweating. Still, the church is worth the effort as it is interesting to see and looks like it was only built last century, not 1000 years ago. The other plus side of walking up a mountain is the views are incredible. We get uninterrupted views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance as the sun shines down on us. We have a little seat on the hillside and have a few contemplative moments, thinking back on the last year and all our adventures, and at the same time, excitedly pondering what the future may bring us.

All this walking has made us quite thirsty, so we stop off at a very appealing looking sidreria on the side of the mountain called Vista Alegre (translated as cheerful views). I'm expecting it to be pricey based on the location, but they do chorizo sausages in cider for 3 euros 90 which will do me just fine. Of course we have to wash it down with some cider so we order a large bottle. The waiter brings it over and is pours the cider in the same way as the other waiter, eager to show us how it should be down. He also explains the little drop they pour into the glass is referred to as the 'colete' and people would call this to the waiter when they wanted more cider poured. The views are indeed very cheerful, and we sit basking in the sun thoroughly enjoying the moment I try my hardest to recreate the Cider pouring method when we need a top up, but end up spilling half of it on the floor. On the way back down the steep hill/mountain, we spot some cows in a field opposite. One is eyeballing me quite aggressively so I walk on swiftly, explaining to Greg I don't want to get rammed by a 5 ton cow. He laughs at me as he explains a cow probably weights about a ton so it would have to be a mega cow. I still have to google it just to check he is right, which he is. We then amuse ourselves thinking about a black comedy called 'mega cow' starring me as the dumb blonde who some how ends up surviving.

By the time we walk back to the hotel Greg is hungry again (no surprise there), so we stop off at a bakers for some coffee and cake. We opt for a local delicacy called a carbayones, which kind of tastes and looks like a mini eclair but with puff pastry instead of choux pastry. I am pooped so have to treat myself to a little power nap when we get back to our room. Tonight we have decided we will head out for some Asian cuisine, as tomorrow we plan on stuffing ourselves full of cheese, fabada and cider but I don't think I could do that two nights in a row! The weather has turned a bit drizzly so it looks like we got the best of it today. A few nightcaps in bed before trying to get a good night's sleep in anticipation of another big day tomorrow.


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