This past weekend I hopped on a bus to Oviedo, the capital of the Asturias area in Spain. Oviedo is around a three hour bus ride Northwest from Bilbao. In two short days, this small city captured a piece of my heart. I will definitely be returning to explore some of the outdoor opportunities when an umbrella is not necessary.
After hopping off the bus early Friday evening, Aisling and Mattie gave me a brief night tour of Oviedo, which ended on Calle Gascona, aka Cider Boulevard. This street is pedestrian only and has over ten cider houses side-by-side. Choosing which one to go in was tough because they all looked promising, but the unique decor and cozy atmosphere of Tierra Astur won us over. The performance of serving the cider (it’s quite the spectacle) was better than the actual cider itself; the waiter raises the bottle high above his head and pours it into your cup, which is below his waist, splashing the floor and anyone standing too close. Apparently, the air and angle make or break the taste of cider, as well as the pace you drink it. Sipping cider does not exist in Oviedo. You are encouraged to down the small amount that is poured for you each time to ensure the best flavor. Every ten minutes or so, the waiter would come around to refill our glasses, putting on a show each time as we munched on our yummy shrimp corn tortilla (basically sautéed mushrooms and shrimp piled on thin cornbread). We walked off our meals by moseying along the old section of Oviedo, getting an incredible view of the cathedral and discovering more statues, until we stumbled upon the funky cafe Salazogue. Coffee, teas, and wine were ordered as we let our eyes wander around the interesting decor. Crates of all colors and sizes hung upside down from the ceiling. Some walls were covered in chalkboard while others were stone or striped. Time flew as we discussed a myriad of topics, including teaching, Trump, families, traveling, etc.
We began our Saturday adventures at the small indoor food market, where piles of fresh (so fresh that some of it was still moving) seafood, legs of ham, wedges of cheese, crates of veggies, and trays of pastries taunted us, demanding to be tried and bought. I tried a soft roll stuffed with Cabrales, which is a typical blue cheese from the Asturias region, and a Casadielle, which is a fried pastry coated in sugar and stuffed with a sweet walnut filling. It reminded me of the delicious yet fattening fried foods from the Indiana fair I go to every summer. Outside the food market, several vendors set up shop selling purses, shoes, sweaters, and other knick knacks. We strolled through the booths killing time until the doors to the Oviedo Arts Museum opened. This museum is truly a treasure, and it’s low, low price of free makes it even better! 🙂 Paintings by Picasso and Dali decorated the walls along with several other noteworthy paintings from a plethora of time periods. The three distinct buildings that make up the museum coincide with the time period of the art they display very well. After the museum, we wound our way through the drizzling streets in search of the restaurant with the best cachopo, which is a “must try” Asturias dish. Basically, it is meat, meat, and more meat in a fried breading stuffed with cheese and pepper. It’s the same concept as Turducken, except the Spanish usually make it with veal, York ham, and cured ham. Needless to say, since I’m not a big meat fan, I probably won’t order it again, but I did enjoy experiencing the authenticity of the native dish. After filling our bellies, we bought our tickets to the Oviedo Cathedral (Cathedral of San Salvador) and completed the 45 minute guided tour. The amount of ancient relics the church had and the good condition most of them were in blew me away. I can definitely see why people make a stop here during their pilgrimage along Camino de Santiago. Once we picked our chins off the ground and completed the tour of the cathedral, we ventured to a small cafe (a must eat at if you enjoy yummy cake and chai tea lattes) called Dos Azucares, which translates to Two Sugars. The pretty decor and classic hits music won us over instantly as well as the intoxicating smell of the pastries. We chatted late into the night, only stopping to return home and introduce the film The Sound of Music to Aisling.
My bus was scheduled to leave during the late morning, so we fit in a quick last walk around Oviedo, exploring San Francisco Park and side streets. We found a chain called Duffin Dagels, an obvious parody of America’s Dunkin Donuts. They had donuts of all flavors, so I snagged an Oreo filled donut and a caramel coated donut for the bus ride back to Bilbao. Turns out, Bilbao has a Duffin Dagels as well as a Starbucks! Now I know where to go to grab a sickly sweet breakfast or overly price coffee. Whoop whoop!
If you have a free weekend while traveling in Northern Spain, I highly recommend Oviedo. It’s a town of history, beauty, and fun all rolled into one! If you have any questions about my travels or about Oviedo specifically, please feel free to ask! 🙂 If you have been to Oviedo or the Asturias area before, please share your experience by commenting below. I would love tips for what to see and do next time I go. Thanks for reading! Cheers!