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¡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)

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)

Covadonga – The Spiritual Capital of Asturias

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Oviedo may be the political center of the Principality of Asturias, but Covadonga is its spiritual heart. This mountain sanctuary near Cangas de Onís is where King Pelayo led a ragtag bunch of Christians to victory over a much larger Muslim force in the 8th century. It was Christianity’s first triumph since the Moorish conquest of Iberia, and marked the beginning of the 800-year Reconquista.

covadonga asturias

The Catholic church wasted no time in claiming Covadonga as its own, and declared the area a religious mega-site. You see, Pelayo’s men didn’t just use the mountainous terrain and their knowledge of it to turn back the Moors, the Holy Virgin of Covadonga assisted them.

Visiting is an odd experience. The grotto of Covadonga is undeniably beautiful, and does have a magical feeling about it. Supposedly, it rests on a ley line. But it’s also a solemn, strange Catholic Disneyland. Step right up kids, and see Pelayo’s final resting place! No talking please, this is a church. And now right over here, folks, we have the Fountain of Marriage! That’s correct, ladies, one drink from this enchanted water and you’ll be at the alter in no time! Pictures are allowed here, since it’s just kinda holy.

Oooh, only brave souls this way! That’s right, we’re entering the Holy Cave! Please no horseplay, kids, this is a holy cave, after all. And who’s this lovely lady, to your right? Why it’s our friend, the Virgin of Covadonga. NO PICTURES! She is most sacred! But if you’ll follow me right this way, we’ll enter the gift shop where you can buy pictures of La Santina and all manner of fabulous religious paraphernalia!

If you’re Catholic or superstitious or new-agey or into kitsch, you’re going to love Covadonga. But for cynics like myself and Juergen, it was a little much. The Basilica is gorgeous, set against the mountains, and it was fun to walk around a bit. There’s also museum on the grounds, which wasn’t very interesting; instead of history, I got artless portraits of archbishops and their robes.

But no trip to Asturias is complete without visiting Covadonga. Regardless of your views on religion and spirituality, it’s a haunting and interesting place.

Visit the Lakes of Covadonga

Covadonga Bell
Cruzes Covadonga
Covadonga Shrine
Covadonga Chapel
Virgin Covadonga
Cueva Silencia
Wedding Fountain
Covadonga Snake
Pelayo
Pelayo Perro
Covadonga
Lost in Covadonga
Organ Covadonga
Cruz Asturias
Beichtstuhl
My Covadonga
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October 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm Comments (0)

The Ruta del Cares: Seven-Hour Megahike

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The Picos de Europa are a huge mountain range that straddles the border between Asturias, Cantabria and León, just twenty kilometers from the ocean, and a paradise for mountain climbers, nature lovers and hikers.

Sun Hike

Juergen and I fall into that latter group for sure, so we embarked on the most famous hike through the Picos: The Ruta del Cares. Connecting the tiny villages of Poncebos and Caín, it’s a 24km, seven-hour roundtrip hike. That’s a lot, but the seven hours are packed with breathtaking nature, and fairly easy.

The river Cares has carved an immense and exhilaratingly narrow canyon into the Picos. The route travels alongside the river, high up into the mountains, through tunnels and along cliff faces. It was developed in the early 20th century for workers of the Electra de Viesgo company, who needed to reach the canal which still runs between the two villages. The hike has since become incredibly popular, and welcomes over 200,000 adventurers a year.

The Ruta del Cares starts with a long ascent, and before long we were high above the river. It leveled out from there, as we entered the canyon. I experienced some mild vertigo. In such a narrow canyon gap with sheer cliff faces towering high over your head and the river so far below, it’s easy to become disoriented.

There were long stretches through dark tunnels, over bridges high above the river, and we passed by a few waterfalls. By the time we reached Caín, we were exhausted but in great spirits. The first half of the hike had gone quickly by and, after a quick lunch, I didn’t dread the thought of returning the same way. The chance to see the canyon again was a powerful incentive.

If you’re fit enough and enjoy the outdoors, don’t miss this hike. But try and pick an off-season day during the week, as the route is truly popular and, on summer weekends, the number of people can be overwhelming.

Location of Poncebos (Start)
Plan of the Hike in Wikiloc
Detailed Info in Spanish on the Hike

Mist Land
Rio Asturias
Rio Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa Hike
Ruta del Cares
No Bikers Allowed
Dizzy
Dangerous Hike
Gefahr Wandern
Hiking Routes Picos
Fall Asturias
Exciting Hike
China in Spain
Hiking
Tunnel Hiking Asturias
Welcome to Leon
Waterfall
Wandern Asturias
On Nom Nom
Wet Land
Wet
Splish Splash
Sidra IN leon
Wandern
Picos de Europa
Play of Light
Travel Stock Photographer
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October 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm Comments (6)

Colombres and the Museum of Emigration

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Looking for a place to stay new Colombres?

At the end of the 19th century, Spain was mired in one of its darkest periods. Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines were gone as a result of the Spanish-American War, and an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Morocco had left the country in a tailspin. Many escaped to the New World, where society was on the rise rather than in decline. This included a massive number of Asturians: mostly single, young and ambitious. They lent their enthusiasm to the growing countries of the Western Hemisphere, and made a fortune doing so.

Colombres Asturias

Many of these newly moneyed youngsters eventually returned home. Known as Indianos, they built fabulous homes and spent their wealth freely, at a time when the Principality desperately needed it. The mansions of the Indianos can be found all over Asturias, but no other town has such a remarkable collection as Colombres, near the border with Cantabria.

One house in Colombres stands out among the rest: the Quinta Guadalupe, constructed by Iñigo Noriega Laso, who emigrated to Mexico and became both extremely rich and politically influential. Today, his amazing mansion is the Museum of Emigration, dedicated to this interesting period in Asturian history. There are emotional photographs of emigrants leaving Spain, models of the boats on which they traveled, personal stories of adventure and danger, and information about the various Centros Asturianos which are still active in Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and the USA.

The museum is interesting, and it’s nice to be able to step inside such a house. Much of the original furniture is still present, and the library is full of tomes dedicated to the immigrant experience. If you’re in the area, definitely stop by.

Location of Colombres on our Day Trips Map

Magnolia Sprout
Water Drip
Bizarre Garden
Quinta Guadalupe
Mexico Asturias
Emmigration Museum
Museo Emmigracion
Detail Asturias
Muebles Asturias
emmigration asturias
Eduardo Urculo New York
Williams B. Arrensberg
Inka
Asturiano Dinero

Visit Stockholm

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October 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm Comment (1)

The Bizarre Beach of Gulpiyuri

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The coast around Llanes is well-known as one of the most stunning areas in Spain, and during a recent trip there, we sought out one of the features which makes it special: Gulpiyuri beach.

Gulpiyuri

Gulpiyuri’s name isn’t its only bizarre facet: this beach is found completely inland, in a gorgeous little cove which looks like something out of a fantasy. I kept expecting to see Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields rolling around on the sand, making out. The Cantabrian Sea bored through the earth to create this sandy spot, and though you can’t see the ocean, its waves to lap the shore just like any beach. Like a magical wave pool.

We sat here for a half hour, taking in the cove’s beauty and eating bocadillos. Our dog Chucky came along for this road trip, and though Gulpiyuri’s odd allure was probably lost on her, she seemed to enjoy the sand.

Location of Gulpiyuri Beach on our Day Trips Map

Inland Beach
Weird Beach
French Bulldog
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October 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm Comments (12)

Finally, We Visit Llanes

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During our three months in Asturias, we’ve seen a lot of wonderful towns. Just check out our Day Trips Map! But none of them have impressed us as much as Llanes, an absolutely gorgeous city in the east of the Principality. A perfect melding of tradition and modernity, Llanes is full of beautifully restored buildings, and boasts an expansive ancient center separated from the day-to-day village life by medieval walls.

Llanes Cubes

Walking around the streets of Llanes was a treat; practically every building screamed for attention, and each narrow alley seemed to be showing off. Even the town’s tourist office is a highlight, inside a small circular tower along the old city wall. The people we encountered were friendly, and despite the rainy weather, everyone was in good spirits, tourists and locals alike.

And there were a lot of tourists. Llanes is a popular vacation destination and in the summer, the population quintuples up to 20,000. Tourists (mostly Spanish) choose Llanes for its beaches, the plentiful surrounding sights, the proximity of the Picos de Europa and of course the beauty and excellent reputation of the town itself.

We spent a long time admiring ancient palaces like the 14th century Palacio de Gastañaga, and modern structures such as the Casino de los Indiano, which is today the city hall. Perhaps most impressive was the San Pedro Walk, a long and entirely green park which stretches endlessly along the coast, offering tremendous views of both the ocean and the town.

This was one of the last excursions from Oviedo which we embarked on. We shouldn’t have waited so long.

Location of Llanes on our Day Trips Map

Igleasia en Llanes
llanes Puerta
Llanes Iglesia
Melted Architecture
Llanes Asturias
Llanes Bush
Llanes Flores
Llanes Oldtown
Llanes Alley
Llanes Architecture
Llanes Construction
Llanes Bebe
Casino Llanes
Tourist Office Llanes
Llanes Faro
Llanes Pop Art
Fishing Net
Redes Llanes
Splash Boat
Boats Llanes
Llanes Beach
Llanes Playa
Walking Llanes
San Pedro Llanes
Sexy Curves
Cliffs Llanes
Llanes Rain
Llanisco
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October 19, 2010 at 7:16 pm Comments (0)

Road Trip Across Western Asturias

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Time was running out! With just over one week left in Asturias, we looked at the map and realized we hadn’t explored the Principality’s western half at all. Time for a road trip.

Jungle Spain

We headed out from Oviedo, through Grado, Pola de Allende, Grandas de Salime, Villanueva de Oscos and into Taramundi. It was an unforgettable trip, through forests, over hydroelectric dams, across mountain passes and into the least inhabited areas of Asturias. For long stretches, we drove without seeing another soul, save the random hunter. The roads were empty and well-maintained, which made driving an absolute pleasure.

The only extended stop we made was for lunch in Taramundi. Unfortunately, in the Hotel Taramundi we suffered through the worst meal we had during our three months in Asturias. I choked my way through a steak so raw, it must have been cooked over match light. I swear it mooed when I cut into it. I’m all for rare and bloody, but this was ridiculous. The other plate was awful too, runny eggs and the nastiest chorizo to ever bear the name.

Overall, we thought Taramundi was cute, but it’s a town clearly designed to ensnare tourists, lacking any sense of authenticity. It’s famed for its knives (navajas), so we bought one and spent the rest of the day slicing things. We were done with Taramundi after about ten minutes, and drove to the nearby village of Os Teixos. Here, they’ve shut down thoroughfare, so you have to park outside the town and walk in. Also, you have to pay an entrance fee! Os Teixos has converted itself into an open air museum dedicated to water mills.

We loved our day driving through Western Asturias, and were particularly impressed by both the hydroelectric dam near Grandas de Salime and the Puerto del Palo, which offered incredible views from 1146 meters above sea level.

If you’re curious, the route we took was the following:
From Oviedo, N634 West
About 11km after Grado, AS15 South
Shortly after a village called Tebongo, AS14 West
In Grandas de Salime, AS12 North
In Pesoz, AS13 West/North, becomes AS11 after the Puerta de la Garganta
About 10 km later, AS26 towards Taramundi

This took about three hours. We headed back to Oviedo along the much faster coastal Cantabrian Highway.

Lost Cloud
Mountain Street
West Asturias
Dam Spain
Cement Mirador
Electronic Mirador
Wild Wild West Spain
Water Towers
Grandas de Salime
Electricity Spain
Roadtrip Spain
Wind Mills Spain
Electronic Workers
Taramundi Spain
Taramundi
hombre Taramundi
Cruz Asturias
Maiz
Manzanas
Spanish Wood
Teixois Uvas
Navajas Taramundi
Schiefer
Teixois
Mills Taramundi
null
Os Teixois
Water Mill
Optical Illusion Asturias
Electricity Toixois
Drums of Spain
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October 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm Comments (0)

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)

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Adios, Oviedo! 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.
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