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Real Oviedo in the Carlos Tertiere Stadium

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Finally, football season had started up again. The euphoric World Cup in South Africa had ended almost two months ago. Two full months without meaningful matches! That’s sick, is what it is!

Carlos Tertiere

On the first matchday of the season, I went to the Estadio Nuevo Carlos Tertiere to watch Real Oviedo face off against UD Logroñés, out of La Rioja. Oviedo plays in the Segunda División B, which is the third level in the Spanish system. Founded in 1926, Oviedo had played for years in the top flight, even claiming third place a few times. But since 2001, the team has been relegated three times, from the Primera to the Segunda, to the Segunda B, and even to the abysmal Tercera where they were stuck for six years.

A city as large as Oviedo deserves better, and their team has recently fought their way into the Segunda B. With such a rich history and a huge fan base to satisfy, Real Oviedo is desperate to ascend even further. But they’d need more than the lackluster 1-1 draw I witnessed.

The Carlos Tertiere stadium is huge. With a capacity of 30,000, it’s truly befitting of a first division team. Although over 6000 people showed up last night, respectable for the Segunda B, the stands looked empty. The price for a ticket was €25, which seems expensive but allows you to sit anywhere you like. I chose a spot right on top of the action, and had fun watching the madmen in the supporters corner, enthusiastic enough to match most of their counterparts in the top flight.

It’ll happen one day, guys! And until then, Asturian aficionados looking for quality football always have Gijón.

Location of the stadium on our Oviedo Map

Arriving at Stadium
Celebrating First Goal
Depressed Fan

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August 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm Comments (2)

Hiking the Ruta Naviega

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A popular hiking trail connects Barayo Beach to the town of Navia, about twenty kilometers away. Especially for fans of cliffs, seaside villages and hidden beaches, it’s a long walk through paradise.

The Ruta Naviega is a well-marked trail, with yellow and white stripes leading the way. We began at the river Barayo, a small stream which eventually ends at a beach of the same name, popular with nudists. From here, it was a five-hour hike westward along the coast. We encountered very few people, and aside from some horses, cows, spiders and a snake, saw little wildlife. The cliffs were our only companions, and it was as solitary as I’ve ever felt in Spain.

After a couple hours of walking, we took a short break in Puerto de Vega, a charming fishing village. The port is the center of activity, with fishermen were working on their nets and retired men playing cards at the nearby bar. The only women we saw were modestly dressed matrons, leaning out the windows of their apartments to carry on shouted conversations with one another. It was as though we had been transported back in time a few generations.

Near the trail’s end in Navia, we found a long staircase carved into the cliff, leading to a beach called the Playa del Moro. We had been hiking all day, and the steps were steep and long enough to nearly deter us. But, reasoning (correctly) that we’d never have another chance, we dutifully sucked it up and went down. I’m glad we did. With a deep cave and powerful waves splashing upon the rocks, it was a neat discovery.

In Navia, we didn’t do anything except collapse into the first bar we found. It looked like a neat town and probably merited exploration, but that was something we just didn’t have the energy for.

Hiking in Spain

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August 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm Comments (2)

Plaza del Riego

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Found near the historic seat of the University of Oviedo, the Plaza del Riego is a small, triangular shaped plaza in the center of the city, which buzzes with activity from morning until evening, when its outdoor terraces are consistently packed.

Plaza del Riego

Formed by the streets of Ramon y Cajal and Peso, the plaza owes its name to the Asturian military hero Rafael del Riego, a general who led the 1817 revolution against an incompetent King Ferdindand VII. The revolt was successful and, after the king was imprisoned in Madrid, Riego became the Asturian delegate in a short-lived constitutional period. Unfortunately, France and other European monarchies didn’t like the idea of a Republican Spain, and soon sent in armies to restore Ferdinand VII. Riego was sent to the gallows.

Before renaming it honor of their fallen hero, ovetenses referred to this area as the Plaza de la Picota, or “pillory”. It was here that lawbreakers and heretics who ran afoul of the inquisition would be punished. The sculpture in the center of the plaza is an archaic meteorological column, which holds the bust of Rafael de Riego and a plaque honoring his achievements.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Riego Oviedo
Rafael del Riego
Cafe Bar Oviedo
Historic Oviedo
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August 26, 2010 at 9:44 am Comments (5)

Oviedo’s Statues: Maternity

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Columbian artist Fernando Botero has an instantly recognizable style. Plumpness, I suppose it could be called. Plump animals, plump objects, plump prisoners and, above all, plump women.

Naked Oviedo

One of Oviedo’s best statues is Botero’s La Maternidad, found in the Plaza de la Escandalera. A woman, hugely fat but also strikingly beautiful, looks to the right while her happy, fat infant plays on her knee. The proportions of the woman’s body are wild, with massive legs and hips supporting a relatively lithe upper body. Her breasts are small and pert, and her hair tied back into a long ponytail.

Despite her obesity, the feeling conveyed is one of health, with its clearly loved and well-nourished infant. Maternity an exuberant celebration of life, paying tribute to the joys of motherhood, and there can be little wonder that it’s one of the most popular of Oviedo’s many statues.

Happy Baby Oviedo
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August 25, 2010 at 7:39 pm Comments (7)

More of Oviedo in Pictures

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The capital of Asturias is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and a walk through its streets reveals Oviedo’s 1000-year history, as much as the vibrant, contemporary place it is today. The ancient Pre-Romanesque churches and Baroque palaces are stunning, but we had just as much pleasure photographing the more modern buildings.

Here’s another set of random pictures of Oviedo, taken over the past week. This city is really beautiful.

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August 24, 2010 at 4:44 pm Comments (2)

Carbayón – The Tree

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For centuries, a massive oak tree stood in the heart of Oviedo. Known as El Carbayón, it was an important symbol of the city’s identity.

Carbayón Oviedo Arbol

Even today, people from Oviedo refer to themselves as “carbayones” despite the fact that their tree was chopped down in 1879. Urban planners had wanted to modernize the city, and their proposed road leading to the train station (today’s Calle Uria) had to go directly through the Carbayón. A bitter fight over the fate of the tree ensued, and progressives won the council vote by 14 to 9. The oak was felled.

There’s a memorial plaque to the Carbayón found at the end of Calle Uria, and a replacement oak affectionately named El Carbayín has been planted near the Teatro Campoamor. Also, a local baker invented a special treat, in tribute to the deceased tree. The pastry, also known as a carbayón, has become an Oviedo institution in its own right… sticky, sweet and worthy of its own post, another day.

Location of the Memorial Plaque
Location of El Carbayín

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August 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm Comments (5)

La Sidrería de El Gaitero

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It didn’t take much time for us to develop an appreciation for cider, the favorite drink of Asturias. In the few weeks, we put down a fair share of bottles and improved at escanciando: the tricky art of pouring cider. So, it was soon time to visit a sidrería and see how the drink is produced.

Sidra Champagne

The most famous brand of Asturian cider is El Gaitero, whose distillery is found in Villaviciosa, the capital of the Cider Region. The company has over a hundred years of history and our free tour through the process was fascinating.

As we moved from room to room, we learned about the history of cider-making, from the complex machinery of the past to today’s computerized filtration systems. The production method, which we saw from beginning to end, is straightforward: washing and chopping small, ugly apples too sweet for eating, then pressing the juice out of them, which is then fermented and filtered until the final product is ready. The discarded apple flesh is sold to farmers for cattle feed.

The mammoth barrels used to store the cider during fermentation were the tour’s highlight, over 100 years in age and of at least eight meters in height. The largest bear the names of Spanish provinces and countries of the world, paying homage to the places which most love cider. I was pleased to see the Estados Unidos among them. Represent!

At the end, we sampled a glass of the Sidra Extra, El Gaitero’s delicious sparkling cider. And then we sampled a few more glasses, while chatting with the tour guide. She recommended October as the best time to visit the distillery, when the production process is in full swing.

Location on our Asturias Map
El Gaitero’s Website

Sidra Barrel Office
Antique Gas Sidra
Sidra Bottle Filling
Apple Belt
Apple Pump
Apple press
Asturias Sidra
Sidra Asturias
Sidra Bodega
Sidra Bottles
El Gaitero
Sidra Sevilla
Sidra USA
Lady Love Sidra
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August 22, 2010 at 11:02 am Comments (7)

Calatrava’s Palacio de Congresos

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In the bird’s eye view of Oviedo acheivable from the top of Mount Naranco, one building sticks out more than any other. Massive and gleaming white, with an otherworldly design, the Palacio de Congresos is unmistakable.

Congresos Princesa Letizia

Perhaps in reference to its status as a modern-day palace, the building was named after a member Spanish royalty, and one of Oviedo’s most famous children, Princesa Letizia. The two side wings of the horseshoe-shaped complex hold ministry offices, a hotel occupies the back and, in the center, under its audacious roof, is an area for expositions. Underground is a shopping mall. In all, the size of the palace is over 15,000 square meters.

The building is the work of famous Spanish archtiect Santiago Calatrava, who also designed the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City. We had lived in Valencia for a few years, which is Calatrava’s hometown and favorite sandbox, so we were already familiar with his work. The City of Arts and Sciences is especially unforgettable. I doubt that any modern architect has so singular a style, and Oviedo is lucky to have one of his incredible constructions.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Calatrava Tower
Calatrava Congresos
Palacio de Congresos Oviedo
Calatrava Space Ship Oviedo
Calatrava Whale
Calatrava Comb
Calatrava Phone
Calatrava Arche
Calatrava Arrow
Calatrava Oviedo
Calatrava Triangle
Mouth of Calatrava
Calatrava Architecture

More Calatrava Architecture: Prince Felipe Science Museum and The Agora in Valencia

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August 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm Comments (21)

Day Trip to Cudillero

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Asturianu is the indigenous language of Asturias, though there aren’t many people who speak it anymore. And Pixuetu is a dialect of Asturianu spoken only in Cudillero, a tiny village on the Cantabrian coast, distinuished by its use of Nordic words. Its no wonder that parents around the world are in a rush to teach their children Pixueto, since it’s totally going to be the next Chinese.

Cudillero Viaje

After visiting Cudillero, which was originally settled by Vikings, I understand how the village was able to develop and maintain its own dialect. Squished into a narrow valley that empties into the sea, Cudillero is difficult to reach today; centuries ago, it must have been almost completely isolated. The town has always been closely tied to fishing and, in fact, the name of their dialect is a combination of the words “fish” (pix-) and “activity” (-uetus).

I don’t think we heard any Pixuetu during our visit, but we did hear a lot of Spanish. Cudillero has become a true tourist town. We were overwhelmed by the amount of traffic and tourists, but at least they were all Spaniards; the town hasn’t yet been discovered by foreigners. Luckily, the noise and bustle didn’t detract much from the experience.

There’s one important road in Cudillero, running from the train station high up in the hills outside the city, down to the sea. The central plaza is the main area of activity, bordering the port and boasting views of the houses which cling uncertainly to the mountainsides. Away from the tourist filled plaza, we had a blast exploring the back alleys of Cudillero. There are no “streets”, really, just stairs carved into the cliffs connecting one house to the next.

As it has been since the town’s foundation, the port continues to be the nexus of commerce for Cudillero. Unless it’s between the sleepy siesta hours of two and five, hordes of fishermen are always hard at work down by the docks, and walking down towards them is rewarded with the seaside view of Cudillero. The town spills from the mountain valley into the water, like an unmoving river of people and houses.

FEVE operates a train which arrives in Cudillero after a stop in Pravia. We really can recommend a day there.

Location on our Asturias Map

Layers of Mist
Clay Town
Calle Cudillero
Blach and White Cudillero
Bakery Cudillero
Town Gossip
Cudillero Church
Lonja Pescado Cudillero
Cudiller Spain
All You Can Eat Fish
Fisher Nets
Catching Lobster
Fish Skin
Cudillero Day Trip
Cudillero Faro
Cudillero Harbor
Magic Rock
Fishing Cudillero
Hanging Out in Cudillero
Don't Walk Too Fast
Cudillero Rocks
Tourist Trap
Cudillero Roof
Bird Punk
Plaza Majo Cudillero
Harbor Yacht Cudilloro
Lighthouse Cudillero
Mirador Cudillero
Leuchtturm Cudillero

Explore Asturias by Car

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August 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm Comments (10)

To the Top of Mount Naranco!

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Oviedo is bounded on the north by Mount Naranco, which stretches over five kilometers in length and reaches 634 meters in altitude. 634 meters? Pfah, that’s nothing… let’s climb it!

Jesus Sacred Heart Oviedo

And so we did. Starting from San Miguel de Lillo, a path winds up the mountain, through a forest and finishes at the top. It’s all uphill, but the path zigzags and isn’t too difficult. Unless, of course, you’re like us: stupid.

We thought we’d take a shortcut, since well-trodden trails are so boring. The little path shooting off through the shrubbery looked promising! Soon enough, the path disappeared but, clever as we are, we decided to push through the thicket anyway. Thorny branches were soon scraping our legs and arms to shreds. I clutzed through a spiderweb and, spotting its hairy owner crawling up my stomach, unleashed a deafening shriek of ladylike terror. Clever and masculine, yep that’s me.

Bloody and agitated, we eventually made it to the top, where we were greeted by a giant statue of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. With his arms open towards the city, Jesus seems to be embracing Oviedo, protecting it. Underneath the statue is a version of the famous Cruz de la Victoria, which features on the flag of Asturias.

Climbing the mountain was worth the effort for the incredible view over Oviedo and its valley. There’s no better place to get a sense for the layout, size and topography of the region. You can also drive up to the top of Mount Naranco, if you don’t feel like a hike. Either way, make sure to go on a sunny day; the panorama is unforgettable.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Bitchy Gease
Fairy Tale Asturias
Awesome Bug
Painful Hike
Oviedo Panorama
Sacrado Corazon Jesus Oviedo
Mountain Around Oviedo

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August 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm Comments (6)

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Real Oviedo in the Carlos Tertiere Stadium Finally, football season had started up again. The euphoric World Cup in South Africa had ended almost two months ago. Two full months without meaningful matches! That's sick, is what it is!
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