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For 91 Days in Oviedo – The E-Book

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We’ve made the effort to convert our blog about Oviedo and Asturias into an e-book. For 91 Days in Oviedo contains all of our articles and a selection of over 150 of our best pictures. With an index sorted by category, links to the original blog posts, and cross-references spread throughout, the e-book is a perfect companion for a trip to Oviedo.

Amazon Kindle

Direct Download (PDF, MOBI)

For just a few bucks, you can download your own copy of the book for use on your e-reader or computer, giving you access to our anecdotes and articles wherever you are, without having to connect to the internet. And, buying the e-book is a great way to support our project… take a look at some sample pages from the PDF.

October 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm Comments (16)

For 91 Days in Oviedo

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Oviedo, the capital of Spain’s lush and mountainous Kingdom of Asturias, played host to us for three months — from August to the end of October, 2010. This was the first stop of our For 91 Days project, and we picked it for a mix of practical and personal reasons. We were already living in Spain, so the move wasn’t difficult, and we knew Spanish. But mainly, we chose Asturias based on the enthusiastic recommendations of our friends — this wild, beautiful land is largely unvisited by foreigners, and there was plenty to discover.

Asturias Blog

What follows below are some of the highlights of our three-month stay… you can also check out our comprehensive index or explore our blog by starting at the very beginning. We’re sure you’ll agree that we chose an incredible place to begin our journey…

Buildings and Monuments

Oviedo is a monumental and wonderfully clean, frustratingly slow city… that still knows how to party. With a history stretching back a millennium, there are churches and buildings galore. The Cathedral sits in the heart of the city and impresses as much with its sheer age, as its beauty. Inside, you can find the Cámara Santa (Holy Chamber) which contains treasures such as la Cruz de Victoria, and which was bombed by atheist Republicans during the devastating Miner’s Strike. The University remains one of the most respected in Spain, and offers a wonderful tour. And for fans of architecture, Oviedo lays claim to some of the best Preromanesque structures in all Europe, particularly the Santa María del Naranco and the San Miguel de Lillo, up on the Naranco hill.

Eating and Drinking

No image is as emblematic of Asturias as a person standing upright, with his arm raised high overhead, pouring out cider. Called escanciando, we had plenty of opportunity to practice this tricky craft, with lessons learned at a nearby sidrería. We also ate more than our share of fabada, the rich bean dish which is at least partly to blame for the portly nature of many Asturians. Equally culpable is the mammoth cachopo — a dish we ordered whenever possible. And when people in Oviedo get a sweet tooth, they often turn to the sickeningly rich carbayón. We also checked out an incredible family-owned farm outside the city, where goat cheese and milk is elaborated.

Parks & Statues

For some reason, in the 1990s Oviedo decided to turn itself into an open-air museum, by erecting statues by various artists all over the city. Nowadays, you can hardly go a block without encountering an interesting statue. Our favorites included Eduardo Úrculo’s tribute to film noir, and Botero’s massive homage to maternity. Adding to the sense of recreation are a number of tranquil parks, such as the San Francisco and the Campillín. Just outside the city, the Senda del Oso is a track that takes you past gorgeous areas and even a couple brown bears. And just a bit further afield, no trip to Asturias is complete without a visit to the amazing Parque Natural de Somiedo.

Exploring Asturias

Oviedo was a great base, but in order to truly experience the beauty of the land, we were forced to frequently get out of the city. We went to gorgeous beaches with names both evocative and goofy. Hiking was a big part of our time in Asturias as well, and we trekked along the coast and into the mountains. We also loved the other towns of Asturias — Ribadesella, Cudillero, Gijón and Llanes were among our favorites. And we were mystified by the Catholic mecca of Covadonga, the legendary last bastion of Christianity against the Moors.

It turns out, you can fit a lot of adventure into three months! Whether you’re visiting the region, or just curious about it, we hope you enjoy our articles and pictures about this incredible piece of Spain. Please leave comments, and don’t forget to sign up to our RSS feed, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

June 9, 2011 at 1:52 am Comments (0)

¡Adios, Oviedo!

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The decision to squirrel away all our worldly possessions in storage and embark on this travel project was not without risks. Any number of things might have gone wrong, and if we didn’t pick a great city for our initial leg, it could have been a disaster. We had to choose something perfect, and really hit the jackpot with Oviedo.

Bye Bye Oviedo

Of course, it wasn’t just luck. Since our arrival in Spain three years ago, friends had been telling us how beautiful Asturias was, particularly at the end of summer. So we expected to enjoy ourselves here. But neither Juergen nor I anticipated just how much we would love it. Asturias is a special place in the world. Both wild and elegant. Historic. Spain, but also somehow not Spain. There’s a sense of spirit here, not unlike what we found in Ireland. Maybe it’s the rain. Or the nature… mountains, forests, verdant valleys. Cliffs and the crashing ocean. These things inspire superstition and awe. They make you feel small, and yet very much alive.

Oviedo is the shining crystal castle of Asturias. We’ve explored this city from top to bottom, west to east. Oviedo is regal. Polished. It’s clean and safe, and proud to be so. Oviedo is also old, both in terms of its actual age and the seniority of its citizens. Seeing a 90-year-old woman hobble past a thousand-year-old building isn’t an uncommon sight. Life is slower; I suppose when a city has seen over twelve centuries and innumerable wars pass by, there’s no reason to hurry.

The people of Oviedo — the carbayones or ovetenses — are wonderful. Calm, polite, and with a measured Spanish accent which is easy on our slow, foreign ears. We didn’t need long to fall into the rhythm of life here. Sidra and cochopos? Who could possibly dislike that?! Hours spent inside cafés, without the slightest pressure to hurry out. Well-dressed Ovetenses, greeting each other on the street after church; or pausing to chat with goofy foreigners like Juergen and I, just because it’s a nice thing to do.

We’re going to miss Oviedo. But I won’t pretend that we’re not excited to get moving on to our next destination: Savannah, Georgia, one of the USA’s most historic cities, with an eccentric Southern culture that’s quite unlike anything I’m used to from growing up in the Midwest.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our articles and pictures about Oviedo and Asturias — and that you stay with us as we continue to explore the world, three months at a time.

Continue to follow our adventures by subscribing to our RSS Feed or newsletter, by becoming a fan on Facebook or by joining us on Twitter.

Luna Oviedo
Leaving Oviedo
Oviedo Spain
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October 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm Comments (7)

Oviedo, as Seen by Quasimodo

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The priests at the Cathedral were kind enough to grant us special access to the bell tower to take some shots of Oviedo from above. The stairs are in poor condition, so it’s understandable why the tower is normally closed to the public. Looking out over the city, Juergen and I both became melancholic. Our three months in Oviedo had come to an end.

Oiveo
Bell Tower Oviedo
Oviedo Ciudad
Facade Oviedo
Oviedo Bicho
Bell tower
Bell Tower Oviedo
Oviedo Tower
Ciudad Naranco
Oviedo Spain
Reyes Oviedo
Plaza Cathedral
Tourists Oviedo

Some more random Cathedral images:

Oviedo Cruz
Luz Santa
Oviedo Holida
Oviedo Night Life

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October 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm Comments (2)

El Teatro Campoamor

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The Teatro Campoamor is Oviedo’s most important theater, home to the annual Prince of Asturias awards in October and the scene of operas and theater pieces throughout the year.

Teatro Campoamor

The building was completed in 1892, and named in honor of one of Spain’s most popular poets, Ramón de Campoamor, who was born in Navia. Campoamor adhered to the Spanish realism movement, and achieved great fame during his own lifetime.

Built to replace the creaky old Teatro del Fontán, which is today the public library, the Teatro Campoamor was an instant hit among the burgeoning Oviedo society. The neoclassic architecture has a distinctly Italian feel and, in fact, the theater was designed mainly to stage major Italian operas.

Every October, the Teatro Campoamor becomes the focal point of all Spain, when the Premios Príncipe de Asturias are held here. All of Oviedo turns out for a chance to see some of the country’s most famous people enter and exit the theater, including the dashing Prince Felipe of Asturias, who’s in charge of the proceedings.

Location of the Teatro Campoamor on our Oviedo Map

Meet Princess Letizia

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October 24, 2010 at 10:27 am Comment (1)

Asturian Bookstore Paraxuga

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Figures I’d discover this bookstore days before we leave! Filled with books about Asturias, trinkets, a couple tables for tea and esoteric tomes, Paraxuga is a super-cute little bookshop on Calle Paraíso.

Paraxuga Oviedo Tienda

Way back in August, during our first couple weeks in Oviedo, I thought I had scoured all the bookstores the city had to offer. I was mostly interested in books about Asturias. Novels, history, hiking routes, city guides, stuff like that. All the stores tended to have the same books, so I eventually just bought a couple and called it a day.

But although it’s smaller, Paraxuga has an incredible selection of Asturias-specific books, and is a neat place to spend some time. Man, I was kicking myself for not having discovered this shop earlier. They also have books about mystical things like witchcraft and tarot, if that’s your bag.

Though it’s close to downtown, Calle Paraíso isn’t a street tourists often go down. But if you’re looking for books about the province, make a beeline for Paraxuga.

Location on our Oviedo Map
Official Website

Andenken Oviedo
Buchladen Oviedo
Asturias Souvenirs

Spain Bargain Site

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October 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm Comment (1)

El Santullano – The Pinnacle of Asturian Pre-Romanesque

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Every day, thousands of people fly right past the most well-preserved and impressive Pre-Romanesque church in all of Spain: the Iglesia de San Julián de los Prados. Also known as the Santullano (from Sanct Iulianus), the ancient church lays along the highway which unites Oviedo and Gijón.

El Santullano

The Santullano was built in 812 by King Alonso II, making it even older than the Santa María del Naranco. It’s endured very little damage, and is one of the largest Pre-Romanesque churches still standing. 1200 years old. Mind-blowing.

It’s little wonder that King Alfonso would choose to christen his church in honor of Saint Julian, an 3rd century Egyptian forced into marriage with Basilissa. Julian and Basilissa decided to leave their marriage unconsummated, and were chaste until the day they were tortured and killed as Christian martyrs. Alfonso likewise would die a virgin. Originally his Santullano was part of a large religious and administrative complex outside the new capital of Oviedo, but the church is the only structure to have survived the centuries.

The Santullano is impressive for its architecture: the Roman influences and austere facade. But what most stands out is the interior artwork. 1200-year-old mosaic depictions of pastoral scenes, city buildings and geometric figures. These are the most well-preserved works of their time period in all Western Europe, and are unique in that they don’t portray any human forms, or the kinds of images normally associated with religious artwork.

Although it’s just a kilometer outside of the city, and entrance is less than two euros, the Santullano is something all too many people skip on. Don’t make that mistake.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Iglesia El Santullano
Iglesias Oviedo
Alfonso Oviedo
Santullano
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October 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm Comments (0)

Oviedo Stock Photography

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Take a seat

In case you were wondering… yes, our photos are for sale! If you’d like a large print of a particular picture of ours for personal use, or would like a high-definition copy for publishing in a magazine or advertisement, just drop us a line via our contact form.

And of course, looking at them online will always be free 🙂

Here some more random images from Oviedo and Asturias.

Modern Architecture
Oviedo Fontanes
Pavillion Oviedo
Apple Blossom
Asturias Palmas
Before the Storm
Blood Lion
Deutsche in Asturias
Manzanas Asturias
Eating Chest Nuts
Naked Wood
Garbage Oviedo
Hidden Palms
Jovellanos
Jovellanos Oviedo
Modern Gardening
Oviedo Number One
Oviedo Park
Pescadora
Private Pool
Raul Gonzales
Shadow of Happiness
Smoke Church Shop
Statue Library
Statues Oviedo
Stone Bench
Taube HD
Tom Park Oviedo
Virgin Oro
Waves Asturias

– Valencia Stock Photography

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October 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm Comment (1)

Oviedo’s Urban Planning (or Lack Thereof)

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No other Spanish city has as many streets designated as Pedestrian-Only as Oviedo, and it’s a joy to walk around the city center without having to stick to the sidewalks.

On the other hand… there is still a lot of room for improvement. Traffic lights in Oviedo take ages to turn green. Intersections make no sense. Way too many cars ignore the pedestrian zones. And biking in this city is a nightmare — drivers (especially taxis) seem to detest bikers and I’ve seen some disturbingly aggressive behavior.

Here’s one particularly striking example of poor urban planning which has vexed me since discovering it. Right at the end of the Paseo de la Losa. Let’s say you want to get to the building on the other side of the street…

You can’t just cross the street! Don’t be silly! You have to cross 4 streets, each with traffic lights that take eons to finally turn. This is simply aggravating.

Or consider the intersection between Calles Caveda and Foncalada. Just a normal intersection, right? But check out where the stop bar is on Calle Foncalada!

If you’re on Caveda, and want to go straight… half the time you’re shit out of luck, because the traffic stopped on Foncalada is blocking you, and you can pretty much forget about turning left. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that this is gong to cause mayhem — and guess what? It does. Frequently. As a one-time only special, I’ve waived my normal consulting fee and made a free suggestion as to where the stop bar should go (in yellow).

There are a lot of other examples of questionable planning throughout Oviedo. Of course, a city which is over a thousand years old is going to have weird streets and crazy intersections, but man! A part of me can’t wait to get back to the US, where most of our cities have boring, grid-like patterns.

Valencia Scenic Drive: Alcoy to Altea

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October 23, 2010 at 8:54 am Comments (2)

Oviedo and the Camino de Santiago

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The Way of Saint James, or the Camino de Santiago as it’s called in Spain, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian pilgrimages, probably right behind Jerusalem. Ending in Santiago de Compostela and starting from any number of spots, though usually in France, the pilgrimage requires a commitment of months.

Santiago Shell

The symbol of the Camino de Santiago is the scallop shell. The shell’s multitude of lines which all converge in a single point symbolize the many different paths which pilgrims can take to reach Santiago. And although Oviedo doesn’t lie on the most well-known route (The Camino Francés), it’s become an important stop nonetheless. In fact, for centuries during the middle ages, a detour to Oviedo was considered obligatory, to pay tribute to the relics in the Cámara Santa.

The shell symbol can be found all over the city, on the sidewalks, on signs and engraved in stone within the Cathedral, and demonstrates the importance of the Camino to Oviedo. Alfonso II the Chaste was the king of Asturias when the remains of Saint James were originally “discovered” in Santiago, and is well-known as the first pilgrim to the city. Old Alfie got the ball rolling.

Calle Magdalena, near the park of Campillín, used to be the way pilgrims would enter Oviedo. Within a small niche in the stone facade of one of the street’s buildings, you can still find an ancient statue of Mary Magdalene, whom the pilgrims would pause to revere. The street today is still full of activity, as a popular pedestrian zone with a lot of great little shops.

Amazingly, the Camino de Santiago is gaining steadily in popularity. I doubt it has anything to do with growing religious fervor. Most of the pilgrims we’ve seen on the roads have been young hippies looking for a “life experience”. We were always amused to notice that almost every town in Asturias claims to be on the Camino. The tourist dollars are awfully tempting, and you’ll find the shell sign on every street, in every tiny town.

Have any of our readers done the Camino de Santiago? I can see the appeal — any grand undertaking like this is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Books on the Camino de Santiago available here: USA, UK, Deutschland

Camino
Camino Asturias
Camino Oviedo
Santiago Pilgramage
Pilgrim Spain
Santiago Camino
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October 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm Comment (1)

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For 91 Days in Oviedo - The E-Book We've made the effort to convert our blog about Oviedo and Asturias into an e-book. For 91 Days in Oviedo contains all of our articles and a selection of over 150 of our best pictures. With an index sorted by category, links to the original blog posts, and cross-references spread throughout, the e-book is a perfect companion for a trip to Oviedo.
For 91 Days