I walk the streets Woody Allen described as his fairytale, enjoying the scenery I had been dreaming of due to of my excessive and repetitive consumption of his “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. This movie features various landmarks found in Oviedo including its indoor market, 8th century churches, a central hotel, gazebo, and landscape imagery. For the seventh year running, Oviedo received an award for being the cleanest and loveliest city in Europe, which is evident in its impeccable layout.
One of the highlights of this week was the group hike to Christo, a statue overlooking the city with its arms spread. The view was worth the two hour upward struggle through the Asturian flora and fauna. At some point, we were joined by local bulls freely roaming the face the mountain. Many brave mountain bikers careened past on the rocky dirt trails. Other Asturians partook in the hike in order to collect the fresh spring water issuing from many crevices along the path. With the perfect timing, we came upon the peak and stood at the feet of Christo in order to receive the most magnificent view of Oviedo bathed in crepuscular pink and orange and purple rays. The hike downhill in the dark was a different kind of mess entirely.
My favorite spot for daytime people watching has quickly become El Parque San Francisco. Near the water dwell the swans, peacocks, ducks, and various other birds. Even the pigeons have a more elegant appearance, with patterns reminiscent of colorful jewelry around their necks. Families flock to the park most afternoons. Couples join hands while leading their vintage strollers down rows of well manicured hedges and trees and between statues of Asturian literary figures. The Burberry-clad toddlers dance around excitedly, tossing yesterday’s bread to the birds and babbling in Spanish and gibberish. Though the Asturian winter is mild, various outdoor seating areas draw crowds with an extensive setup of heat lamps. The stately elders of the city can be found here, adorned in neutrals and furs, sipping red wine, and chatting animatedly.
The cuisine in Asturias is delightful for excitable palates. The basic staples include cider/sidra, fava beans, goat cheeses, ham, fresh oranges and kiwis, breads, and fried potatoes. I have come to adore the tortilla, not to be confused with the stone-ground corn wraps of the same name found in Central America. Spanish tortillas consist of a base of fried eggs and potatoes, sometimes aided by chorizo or cheeses. The paella is another delicious option, enticing particularly to seafood enthusiasts. Each block in Oviedo houses a bakery showcasing a glistening array of freshly baked goods, which ooze the most delicious aromas to swirl around me during my walk to campus. Interestingly enough, Spaniards seem to have a veritable affinity for Coca-Cola, even moreso than in the United States where it is produced. In many places it is even cheaper than water, and many people choose to mix it with wine to stave off drowsiness. Following the trend of the country’s hedonism, those of Oviedo eat heartily; and yet, we must look very hard indeed to find any cases of obesity in the city.
At night, I prefer the plazas and Calle Mon, where students gather to grab drinks and gab animatedly. I have also come to see that any broken glass, bottles, and trash left on the streets disappear within the hour due to the city’s highly efficient cleaning staff and its night shifts.
I am in love with Oviedo.