Sunday, 7 September 2014

Urban day: Oviedo & Gijon

The day was dedicated to the two biggest cities in Asturias: Oviedo and Gijón. Oviedo may be the capital, but Gijón is the bigger of the two, probably because of its beaches. More tourists, more employment...

I decided to head towards Monte Naranco first; we would then be in Oviedo right around lunchtime.

At 634 metres above sea level, Monte Naranco provided us with fantastic views of Oviedo and the Picos de Europa in the background. We arrived in the early afternoon, along with a few other groups of visitors, including some Americans, chilling out with their portable stereo, and talking and singing aloud, with Christ looking down at them, not too approvingly...

El Cristo, Monte Naranco, Oviedo, Asturias
El Christo,  la escultura del Sagrado Corazón, Monte Naranco
El Cristo, Monte Naranco, Oviedo, Asturias
A mini Christ the Redeemer
Monte Naranco, Oviedo, Asturias
Oviedo from Monte Naranco
After a short stay admiring the views, we made our way down again. Oviedo isn't an easy place to park in and we should have perhaps planned this better. After several minutes of not getting anywhere, struggling with the one-way streets, we found our way to el casco histórico, and found a car park. Don't you hate it when they put these low barriers, in a position where the driver can't see them, especially when reversing, and if you reverse a centimetre too far, no matter how slow you go, you'll end up with some surprises? They don't make bumpers like they used to. Weren't bumpers made of rubber so that when you bumped, it was no big deal? That's why they're called bumpers, no? To bump?

Well, a surprise was exactly what I got. With the low light, the heat, the fatigue from driving around, I went just that bit too far, having forgotten that there was a barrier. When I looked, there were some scratches. Damn. I started thinking the worst. That this was going to cost me, why hadn't I sent someone out to guide me, etc.

Fast forward a few days, when we left the car at A Coruña airport, and the rep at Europcar said, ok, we'd have to check the car, I was bracing myself for the bad news.

So, I checked in, went back to the counter and when, eventually, she came back and said everything was ok, you couldn't imagine the relief I felt!

Back to Oviedo...

We walked for a bit, past and around the Cathedral and I just had to check out Casa Fermín. Perhaps they'd have an affordable set menu... No, they didn't and no, I don't think I can afford those prices... Let's move on...

We went past a few restaurants, none of which really beckoned us, and we also didn't want to pay too much. Finally, we got to the market Fontán, and there was a restaurant upstairs. The set menu price was affordable and it looked decent, so we went in.

El Fontán overlooked the market stalls and we could see the stallholders cleaning up. For the amount of customers there were, service was somewhat lacking. Perhaps they wanted to have lunch themselves. The food was rather average. I didn't want meat and had grilled fish, but it was tasteless. I very seldom add salt to my food, but this time I had to.

My verdict: find somewhere else.

As so happened many times before, and I'm sure it happens to you too, walking a bit more after lunch, we came across Plaza Fontán, and it was bustling with people still eating and there were quite a few restaurants. We didn't bother looking at their menus, but the plaza certainly looked more inviting than where we'd just come from!

Plaza Fontán, Oviedo, Asturias
Plaza Fontán
After Oviedo, we headed on to Gijón, It was hot. Walked along the promenade for a bit before heading inwards. No doubt Gijón has its hidden charms, but that day, we didn't find any. In fact, later, we were looking for a café, preferably with some ice cream available...and we couldn't find a single one!

Our tired legs eventually found one, Chocolatería Mayca. What a feat! But, guess what? As usual, Murphy Law struck again. As soon as we walked out of there, we kept seeing cafés after cafés, haha.

What a day!

I couldn't wait until we were back in the apartment to rest my weary legs! The drive wasn't straightforward. At one point, I thought we'd taken the wrong turning, but what happened was that a section of the main road must have been cut off, but Google Navigator re-directed us, quite astoundingly!

The "What a day" wasn't about to end yet.

When we arrived, and it was late, there was no running water! Arghhhhhhhhhh! We were all in bad need of a shower. I rang Toño, our host, and he told us that the whole village was without water. There had been a problem and the authorities hadn't been able to locate it. Chances were that there wouldn't be any water until the next day.

Could you believe that?

I rushed out, hoping to find some shops which were still opened. I remembered the petrol station, and, they had 2 bottles of 1.5 litres left. That would have to do.

Deep down, I never gave up hope, I kept trying the tap to see if some miracle would happen. Minutes later, a little water started trickling from the tap. Mmm, maybe, maybe... There was sufficient coming... let me clean my teeth... And then...

Around midnight, hallelujah! Water gushed out from the tap! A miracle! The shower just felt incredibly glorious, what could I say?