25.09.18 — Travel

Traversing the Peninsula

Less than a week after waving Ellie and Johann back off to the airport, it was my turn to do a bit of traveling! After clocking out of work a couple of weeks back, I took the Metro to Atocha Railway Station, grabbed a beer, and sat in the station’s tropical gardens whilst I waited for my train to show up.

Atocha's gardens

After a lot of confusion as the platform was late to be announced, which eventually forced me to sprint the length of Atocha trying to find carriage six, I found my seat and fired up Netflix for the long journey down to Murica. I was greeted at the station in Murcia by my parents, who had just landed in from England to spend a couple of weeks at my auntie’s flat there just like last time, and we headed straight out for a slap-up tea of pizza and burgers at the golf complex where we’d be staying.

The next day called for a lie-in, but after some drama with the car window refusing to go back up and the skies threatening to rain, we managed to get down to the coast in one piece. We wandered the front, stopped off for some snacks, and caught up on plenty of stuff along the way over a few drinks.

A church down by the coast
Looking out into the Mar Menor
A little hut over the water

That evening, and after freshening up and heading back to a shopping and eating plaza near the coast, we had a lovely little family meal – missing Ellie that was, but I’d seen her five days previously and my mum and dad are certainly much closer to her than I am!

That evening I introduced my parents to the age-old Spanish tradition of a nice drink of Crema de Orujo, which is quite similar to Baileys, after a meal as a digestive. That went down a treat but soon made us all sleepy, and so we headed for another relatively early night in preparation for what was suddenly my last day to be spent with them – these weekend retreats do pass by pretty quickly!

Back down at the Mar Menor

That Sunday morning we headed down to San Pedro del Pinatar, famous for its natural mud baths, but we weren’t in the mood for smothering ourselves in nutritious clay that morning. We opted instead for a drink and a tapa on a terrace along the shore, before wandering further down the front so that I might find a decent and authentic looking Spanish bar in which to have some food.

First aid along the way

It was touch-and-go as to whether my mum would eat the Spanish food.

Once I’d found a spot for us to settle down in, we tucked into an array of sharing dishes that I picked out, and I think I may have actually managed to convince my mum that she might actually like some traditional Spanish dishes – who’d ever have thought?

Coffees drunk and a chat had with a lovely couple on the way back to the car, I found that I was being dropped back off at the train station all way too soon – I barely squeeze 48 hours into these fleeting visits! I guess that’s working life…

Anyway, once back in Madrid, the photo of the first aid sign I took above proved to be rather fitting, as I found myself pretty floored by an irritating throat infection. After having to take a day off work full of a fever, I managed to make it back in for the Tuesday, but then found myself on a quest to be seen by a doctor on Wednesday morning.

Waiting at the doctors'

I eventually managed to work my way through the painfully slow gears of the paperwork of the Spanish healthcare system, and was soon prescribed some medicines and sent on my way. I had all my digits crossed for my speedy recovery as the week wore on, for I had yet another trip planned, this time to the northern extremes of the Iberian Peninsula!

Once again it was indeed time to visit everyone up in Asturias, after having returned from a trip there just weeks ago: I swear I’m in Kevin’s flat more often than my own here in Madrid! This time, however, I had good reason to visit: it was time to wave Kevin off for a while. The lucky sod has gone and landed himself his dream job working as a Spanish language assistant in the US, and he’ll be preparing to head off for his flight right now as I sit here writing this!

A stop on the road to Asturias
Looking through an empty restaurant as the sun sets

The evening I arrived proved to be a rather quiet one, as me and Kevin opted to stay in and tuck into the delicious pasta dish he’d whipped up for tea. As I was laying off the alcohol to aid in my recovery, we instead had a cup of tea and chatted away aimlessly into the early hours of the morning as is rather typical of us by now.

Kevin had inadvertently timed his last weekend in Spain quite well however, as Oviedo was bustling with life as the fiestas of San Mateo were in full swing! We headed out on Saturday morning to explore what was going on in the city, stopping in the park for a drink and some live music.

The usually quiet park bustling with life

In the afternoon we met up with a group of Kevin’s friends, one of whom was Sara, making it the last time the three of us would meet up for a while after we first all came together in Leeds just under two years ago! I’d say that time flies, but I’m still 23 and I’m not going to sound like my grandma just yet…

Me and Sari

After two of the girls had to head home for preparations before the big night out, just me, Sari and Kevin were left in the city, and so we started by having a little drink in a plaza. Naturally, as like pretty much every single damn time I am in Asturias, these soon turned to many drinks, and before we knew it we were dancing and signing and generally causing a nuisance up and down the streets of Oviedo.

Before everything got out of hand

The next day me and Kevin found ourselves (n.b. I feel like I have typed this so many times by now) a little bit worse for wear, and so we weren’t exactly super speedy in making our way back into the centre of Oviedo for lunch and for me to find my carshare. We did manage to squeeze in a visit to a building that Kevin had promised would look like a “spaceship had landed in the middle of the city”, and he wasn’t lying!

What the heck is this?
A strange entrance
Looking upwards

As cool as the place looks, its main function is pretty much to serve as a half-empty shopping centre, so we grabbed ourself a quick burger and then found a spot to sit down and have a coffee as I waited for 6pm to come round and my return journey to Madrid to begin.

Once we’d downed our drinks and settled the bill, it was time for the bit of the weekend I’d been dreading: saying goodbye. I know it shan’t be too long until I catch Kevin back here in Spain or maybe even over the pond in the US, but it sure was horrible to give him a big hug and wish him the best of luck for the time being. I know he’s going to have a fabulous time out there, and so if I have caught you reading this Kevin – get back to preparing your lesson materials!

The latest from Madrid is that I am back to full health, very full of homemade pizza, and very ready for yet another early night to compensate for lost sleep on the streets of Oviedo and from my travels to the top and bottom of the peninsula. In the end I would absolutely love to live up in Asturias, but I feel that the amazing food and great cider would eventually kill me off!