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.
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.
October 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm Comments (7)