Oviedo, capital of Asturias
When you enter the region of Asturias, you are not only entering the most ancient principality of the peninsula, but also the land of cider, hearty stews of pulses and blood sausages (chorizos and morcillas), cabrales cheeses, and much much more.
A taxi driver told us of the close relationship between Asturians and the Irish: he pointed to the common Celtic origins, the style of traditional dress, music (eg. bagpipes) and dance…….and more importantly, character and personality. His favourite film of all time
(he has seen it 30 times!) is ‘Barry Lyndon’. Given my own Irish roots, I felt immediately at home!
When we entered Oviedo (capital of Asturias), we were delivered to our hotel by the said-taxi, a jaw-droppingly modern structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, forming part of the Palace of Congress. The contrast with the 16th century Casona Solar of
Santillana was mind-bending. The whole wall on one side of our very large room was plate glass, giving panoramic views of the city below and the Picos in the distance.
We dashed across the street to a bar for some light supper, and engaged in conversation with two couples on the next table. The two husbands were both retired doctors, obviously enjoying their retirement, and then one produced a bag of figs, picked from his own
garden. Thrusting several in front of us, we relished the sweet seediness of the ripe fruit, forgetting what the ultimate consequence might be if we ate too many. But, we had struck up a friendship and exchanged details.
Oviedo has the ambience of a northern city, unlike anything on, or near, the Mediterranean. The streets are cleaner, the people are quieter, there is a great deal more restraint about everything. And if you have even a trace of Irish blood in you, go and meet your distant relatives!