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The Regenta, by Clarín

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In 1884, Leopold Alas, better known by his pen name of Clarín, wrote a massive novel which would eventually be regarded as one of the 19th century’s best. La Regenta is a fictional account of the life and loves of Ana Ozores, a noblewoman who marries a man far older than herself, but allows herself to be pursued by two other suitors: the town’s resident heartthrob and a priest. Scandal!

La Regenta

The novel is set in an Oviedo superficially disguised as “Vetusta” and, with a rich ensemble set of eccentric secondary characters, wickedly satirizes Spanish society. In the well-stocked bookshelves of the apartment in which we’re staying, I discovered a copy of La Regenta, and immediately declared, “Yes! I shall read this!”.

These plans lasted until I felt the heft of the book, 9,183,433 pages thick, and opened to the first page of fine-print 19th century Spanish prose. “On second thought”, I considered, removing my smoking robe, lowering my reading glasses and substituting my brandy for a beer, “Dude Where’s My Car is on TV tonight. I can get to La Regenta later.”

The novel has had a huge influence on Oviedo, where approximately half the hotels and restaurants use the name “Vetusta”. And Clarín’s likeness is all over the place, on murals and statues. La Regenta herself claims the best spot in the city, right in front of the cathedral. Her statue must be among the most-photographed in Spain.

Despite its wide-reaching influence and universal praise, La Regenta is difficult to find in English. I don’t want to tell Oviedo’s booksellers how to run their businesses, but here’s some unsolicited advice: stock La Regenta in English! If there’s a classic book which has partially defined a city, tourists to that city will often want to read the book. Trust me.

Order La Regenta here: USA, UK, Germany

Location of La Regenta on our Oviedo Map

Vetusta
Regenta Oviedo
Regenta Clarin
Oviedo at Night
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October 21, 2010 at 5:20 pm Comment (1)

Tierra Astur Restaurant

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The first time we sat down at Tierra Astur, a sidrería at the very top of the “Boulevard of Cider”, it was just for drinks. But it was dinnertime and we watched with growing despondency as plate after plate of mouthwatering Asturian food was delivered to other tables. By the time we left, my stomach was growling like an angry Rottweiler. “Calm yourself, friend”, I whispered soothingly, “Soon we shall return and a succulent feast shall be your reward!”

Asturian Food

Return we did, the very next day. Previously, I’d been skeptical about Tierra Astur because the restaurant also contains a shop selling goods, souvenirs and foodstuffs. Rule #2934 of my personal life-guide clearly states that “Restaurant/Shops Are of Dubious Quality (See: Cracker Barrel)”. But our experience at Tierra Astur has caused me to question the wisdom of that rule.

We got a place on the terrace, with the warm October sun at our backs, and hungrily awaited our meal. It was as delicious as we’d hoped. We started with corn tortillas and then shared ox medallions covered in a rich cabrales sauce. Reading the menu was nearly as fun as eating the things found on it. Tierra Astur is dedicated to promoting Asturian foods, and the menu went into great detail on all the different plates and ingredients.

Dessert was frixuelos, which are like slightly-thicker crepes filled with delicious sauces, from apple to chocolate. And the prices were more reasonable than we had dared hope. During the week, they have a very reasonable lunch menu and the regular-priced dishes aren’t bad either, especially considering their size. We left full, happy and satisfied.

Location of Tierra Astur

Link to their site: Tierra Astur

Restaurante Oviedo
Terra Asturias
Maiz Asturias
Terra Astur
frixuelos
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October 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm Comment (1)

Hotel de la Reconquista

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Oviedo’s most famous and luxurious hotel was built over 250 years ago as an orphanage and hospital for the city. But the altruism has long since faded, and the huge building has gone from caring for the city’s most poor and downtrodden, to catering to the rich and famous.

Luxury Hotel Asturias

If a well-known actor or foreign dignitary is visiting Oviedo, it’s even money that they’re staying in the Hotel de la Reconquista, the most exclusive 5-star joint in the city. The hotel serves as the seat for the Prince of Asturias Awards, when Oviedo is invaded by Spain’s most famous intellects, scientists, athletes and royalty.

As you’d expect, the Reconquista is gorgeous. Most striking is the massive coat of arms in the center of the facade. There are a couple impressive interior patios, such as the 900 square meter Patio de la Reina, where evening cocktails are served.

The price aren’t really as terrifying as might be expected, starting from about €145 for a double room. But if you’re a classy gentlemen, for whom only the fanciest rooms possible will do, you might want to look at the Suite Real, at just over €1500 per night. Come on, you can afford it, can’t you? Look at you, fancy man, of course you can!

Book your stay here: Hotel de la Reconquista

Location on our Asturias Hotel Map

Reconquista Oviedo
Hotel de la Reconquista
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October 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm Comment (1)

White Dragon in Oviedo – Photos from Asturias

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Like any great city, Oviedo is full of gorgeous detail, unexpected sights and humorous juxtapositions. The hardest part of a photographer’s job here is deciding between the incredible picture opportunities!

White Dragon
Wedding Oviedo
LED Gijon
Gijon Bus
Zona Fumadores
Sidra Bucket
Sidraria
Sidra Mining
Pinchos Asturas
Sidra Elf
Rain Asturias
drip Spain
Camino de Santiago
Bear Bike
Relaxed Dog
Stomach
Weird Bird Oviedo
Scream Oviedo
Oviedo Showing Leg
Bar Gijon
Dead Architecture
Praying for the Dead
Fly Bird Statue
Oviedo Center
Trash Shopping
Not Calatrava
Industria Asturias
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October 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm Comments (0)

The Fountain of the Foncalada

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“With this sign the pious are protected, With this sign you shall defeat the enemy”
Fontan Foncalada

This is the inscription engraved upon the Foncalada: a fountain near the city center, and the only remaining civil service structure in Asturias still standing from the Middle Ages. It was constructed in the 9th Century at the behest of King Alfonso III, and features the Victory Cross above the inscription.

In 2008, the Foncalada was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. That the fountain still works is remarkable in and of itself. We walked by about 50 times without ever descending the stairs to check it out. Don’t make that mistake: the Foncalada takes about 10 seconds to see, and is definitely worth a picture.

Location of the Fuente de Foncalada

Cruz Asturias
Foncalada
Fontan Asturias
Middle Ages Oviedo

Oviedo Shirt

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October 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm Comments (0)

Al Fondo Hay Sitio – Music Bar

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On a rainy Saturday night, I went to a bar which a couple friends had recommended. Al Fondo Hay Sitio… There’s Room at the Back. It was a fun evening out. The bar had a great atmosphere with live rock music, a good selection of beers and an abundance of tapas, which the waiter insisted I try. “Picante, ¡SÍ!” Bowls of fruit were on the tables, and a guest book was at the door; funny little touches that give the bar a unique feel.

Tapas Libre Oviedo

Al Fondo Hay Sitio is found at the bottom of Calle Oscura, Oviedo’s most lively party street. I had taken Jürgen’s younger brother with me. He’s two meters tall, about 6’7″, and his height caused a minor sensation at the bar. Within minutes we were talking and trading rounds with a big group, and the bartender even invited us to a beer before we left, at which point I hazily remember declaring “Favorite Bar EVER”.

And the music is great, too. I had been walking by one early evening, and heard Arcade Fire’s new album blasting from the speakers, the same day it had been released. If that’s your style of music, then this is a bar you’ll feel right at home in.

I don’t know if there’s a connection, but Al Fondo Hay Sitio is also the name of a massively popular Peruvian telenovela.

Location on our Oviedo Map
Become a Fan on Facebook

Al Fondo Hay Sitio
Corn Spain
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October 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm Comments (2)

The Butt Statue

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It’s a butt! A huge, shiny butt, right next to the Teatro Campoamor. And what’s more: it’s a double butt.

Eros Oviedo

Butt on the back, and a shimmering pair of matching cheeks on the front. This bizarre sculpture is called the Culis Monumentalibus or El Culo, and is the work of Eduardo Úrculo, who also created the Williams B. Arrensberg statue.

Is it art? I think so. Do I want to slap and/or grind on it? Definitely.

Location of El Culo on our Oviedo Map

Culis Monumentalibus
Culo
Ass of Oviedo
Big Ass
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October 16, 2010 at 7:43 pm Comments (2)

Benito Jerónimo Feijóo

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Though he was born in Galicia, Benito Jerónimo Feijóo spent the bulk of his life in Oviedo. One of Spain’s foremost enlightenment thinkers, the intellectual, religious and philosophical works of Feijóo had reverberations throughout the world. The Benedictine monk died in 1769 at the ripe old age of 89, and is buried in the Iglesia de Santa María de la Corte, near the plaza which bears his name.

Benito Jeronimo Feijoo

Don’t ask me how to pronounce Feijóo, because I have no idea. I’ve been saying it like “FIGH-jew”, which is probably way off.

Feijóo was a professor at the University of Oviedo, most well known for his ideas challenging superstition and folklore. He was skeptical of anything of an otherworldly nature, such as exorcisms. He famously “cured” one possessed soul by reading aloud a comical romantic farce in Latin. The afflicted man didn’t understand what was being said, but leaped from his bed upon hearing the Latin words, miraculously free of the devil.

Feijóo held radical ideas for his day. He was a proponent of enlightened thinking, and his teachings challenged the more orthodox Catholic practices. King Charles III studied his essays, and would work the ideas of Enlightened Absolutism into his rule, guaranteeing better freedoms for his subjects. Feijóo is also known to have written one of the world’s first feminist tracts: “La defensa de las mujeres“, where he bravely argues for the equality of the sexes.

During San Mateo, the Plaza de Feijóo plays host to raucous rock concerts; somehow, I think that he would have liked that.

Location of the Plaza de Feijóo

Feijoo
Feijoo Oviedo
3 D Cross
Santa Maria Oviedo

Castle Hotel Oviedo

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October 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm Comments (3)

Restaurante La Más Barata

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On Calle Cimadeville, just past the open arch of the Ayuntamiento building, La Más Barata is one of Oviedo’s most famous and popular restaurants.

Paella Negra

We were excited to check it out, mostly because its name translates as “The Cheapest”, and we’re eternally on a budget. But the name turned out to be a bit of a misnomer; La Más Barata wasn’t anywhere close to the most barata meal we’ve had in Oviedo. But it’s not crazy expensive, either, and we had a good experience.

The restaurant is most known for its rice dishes. I had a delicious serving of black rice with squid tips cooked in ink, but Juergen’s plate, tenderloin with french fries, wasn’t very interesting. So if you go, you should probably stick with the house specialty: rice. The paella we saw on other tables looked incredible.

La Más Barata also has a popular bar/lounge where you can snack on tapas and tostas. Here, the prices really are cheap. The tostas are huge and packed with great toppings, and the atmosphere is perfect, too; crowded and loud, but overly so.

Location of La Más Barata on our Oviedo Map
Official Website

Mas Barata Oviedo
Squid Paella
Salsa Cabrales

Collection of Fun Online Games

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October 12, 2010 at 4:53 pm Comments (2)

Plaza del Paraguas – The Umbrella Plaza

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Our first two months in Asturias were marked by incredibly sunny weather. People kept warning us that this wasn’t normal, and to prepare ourselves for rain in October.

They were right. The entire month of October was grey and rainy. One particularly miserable Saturday night, we got caught in a downpour on our way home from the bars. The streets were full of young party people, and all of them were wielding umbrellas. I found that amusing; it would never occur to me to bring my umbrella clubbing, but such precaution is second-nature to Asturians.

Rain is a part of life here, and the Plaza del Paraguas is a cute wink to Oviedo’s dreary weather. Found at the end of Calle San Isidro, the “Umbrella Plaza” is popular with the city’s youth as an evening hang-out spot. It was developed in the 1920s as a milk market, and the large concrete umbrella in the center provided cover for the milk ladies.

Location on our Oviedo Map

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October 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm Comments (0)

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The Regenta, by Clarn In 1884, Leopold Alas, better known by his pen name of Clarn, wrote a massive novel which would eventually be regarded as one of the 19th century's best. La Regenta is a fictional account of the life and loves of Ana Ozores, a noblewoman who marries a man far older than herself, but allows herself to be pursued by two other suitors: the town's resident heartthrob and a priest. Scandal!
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