22nd July 2017
As spontaneous as ever, and a mere 8 days before my graduation, last week I ended up jetting out to Spain for a week! After a gruelling day spent hitching a lift to Burnley train station, two trains to Liverpool, a quick wander and then a bus journey to the airport, I flew out from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Aeropuerto Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas (yes, it is a ridiculously long name for an airport). I didn’t stay for long in Madrid however, as I was soon on a bus up to Oviedo, Kevin’s home city where he’d recently returned to from Leeds.
After a reunion in the bus station, I met Kevin’s parents who had kindly come to pick me up and drop me off at their family apartment in the city. Having been awake on the bus for the entirety of the journey from Madrid to the north, I must admit that my first impressions of Asturias (the area in which Oviedo sits) were somewhat skeptical – there’s a tunnel where you enter under clear skies surrounded by arid slopes, and exit into another land of fog, rain, greenery, and a temperature that’s ten degrees colder than when you first entered the tunnel five minutes before. It’s quite a shock!
After a quick wander round the city it soon became evident that we were both tired, and so headed back home after a gorgeous meal of croquettes, patatas bravas, and a lovely mix of meat called picadillo – I even tried my first traditional hand-poured Asturian cider!
The next day we were greeted by a bit more sun and I really got to appreciate the city a bit more – starting with the view from Kevin’s flat. After this I grabbed my camera and we went for a proper few hours exploring the city…
We spent most of the morning exploring the old centre of the city, with gorgeous streets flanked by pretty little balconets. The centre of the area seemed to revolve around a big open square which housed the cathedral, a beautiful structure with intricate wood and stone carvings adorning its facade.
Kevin acted as my tour guide throughout, showing me every nook and cranny of the city and recounting the odd anecdote from his years spent as a student in the city. One of the symbols to look out for was the flared cross of Asturias, one of which we found perched on the railing of the church.
After sticking our heads in the door of the cathedral and then promptly retreating to avoid paying the extortionate entry fee, we waltzed leisurely through the square and then round a corner down the side of the church on to the main nightlife street of Oviedo.
Although Kevin had already spoken of the cleanliness of Oviedo, I was pleasantly surprised by the state of the street which lay ahead – any other visitor to the city would never have known that it was where people went to drink and party of an evening. It was spotless! A local had even taken to playing some traditional catholic music from their window, making it feel like we were on the set of some kind of epic drama as we strolled down the sloping street.
As we headed down Kevin wanted to show me one of his favourite places to go on a night out, a club called Radio, which unlike most British clubs actually looked quite resplendent during the day too. We also nipped down a few other side streets to beautiful squares and plazas, and I was enchanted by Oviedo’s quiet comfort and relaxing ambience.
One of my favourite buildings was one of those which Kevin had told me was the most aesthetically pleasing in the city, with striking blue painted window frames glowing above the restaurant below. With a decaf coke in hand from a nearby Mercadona, I spent quite a while snapping away to try and get the perfect shot of it’s gorgeous colours!
As the day wore on we headed further looping around the streets of the city centre, passing even more gorgeous buildings such as the town hall and exploring even more quaint little streets flanked by shops, nightclubs and residential blocks. We eventually wound up at a square with a sculpture in it which was rather unimaginatively known as the umbrella when translated from Spanish, and which Kevin told me was used to hide from the Asturian rain when people are out drinking on the streets.
After that we began to make headway back to the flat before having some snacky food for the evening. On the way though we encountered an open church door and wandered in only to find that a lot of the religious figures and pews had been covered in plastic sheeting whilst renovations to the building were ongoing. I thought this gave a rather eerie quality to them and snapped a few photos…
After dinner that evening we headed to Kevin’s friend’s place for some drinks before hitting the town, where we sang and danced up and down the same street we’d been to earlier! It was a lovely evening, but the next day we had to take things a little easier than we’d hoped seeing as we only managed to get back home at 5am! Oops…
The next day we explored the more commercial side of the city, with Kevin once again showing me more of Oviedo’s sights and scenes, including an unsuspecting gofre (waffle) stand where we got the most amazing freshly cooked waffles loaded with cream, dulce de leche, Nutella, and syrups of every flavour under the sun. We then sat in the pretty little park and I did my very best to shovel mine into my face without dropping the toppings all over my white shorts – amazingly I succeeded!
That evening, instead of heading straight home, Kevin took me towards the train station and we began to climb the side of what seemed like quite a pointlessly steep hill. I was wondering why we were headed up there until I got to the top and caught a glimpse of the city behind me – it was quite breathtaking. A little further up we also stumbled upon a church, which although seemingly abandoned had the telltale sign of a recent wedding – a pool of rice on the floor outside the door. Strange.
The two following days were spent in Gijón and up in the Asturian lakes, which were so beautiful and full of adventure that I’ve decided to dedicate two upcoming blog posts to them rather than try to squeeze them all into one. After those though came my final evening in Oviedo, when me and Kevin went to grab some pizza and then walk home, but Kevin took the time to show me one last thing before I left – a Roman church which is apparently the oldest standing building in the entire city.
My time spent in Asturias and Oviedo was absolutely phenomenal, both thanks to Kevin’s impeccable hospitality and the gorgeous places that we visited during my time there. The people of Asturias are some of the loveliest I’ve ever met, and the weather although a tad wet allows for rolling hills of lush greenery which other parts of the country miss out on. It reminded me of being back home here in England, but with a definite Spanish charm and a tonne of amazing food, the quality of which I’m not sure Burnley will ever be able to match.
Stay tuned for further photos and news from my trips including Gijón and the lakes!