Spain is beautiful and I’m not leaving. Ever.
Ok, I guess that’s not possible. I do have to go back to the U.S. sometime. But Spain has some of the most stunning landscapes, or paisajes, that I have ever seen. In discovering its mountains, beaches and cliffs (and of course its food, but I’ll save that topic for another entire blog post), I may have found myself a new home.
During our first week of classes, a university group called ESN had an activity planned each day for foreign students. On Wednesday of that week, ESN organized a hike to the top of El Naranco, the mountain on the side of which Oviedo sits. We met at the train station and set out, steadily climbing through what seemed to be a residential section of the city. After coming out of this neighborhood, we saw two examples of old Preromanic churches – Santa Maria del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo. And thanks to my Art professor, I learned that the Santa Maria del Naranco was actually designed as a little palace and was only used as a church years after its construction. Here’s a photo:
After learning about Preromanic and Asturian architecture, it’s easy to see that this was not designed to be a church. There aren’t 3 naves separated by contrafuertes, there aren’t any ábsides for the alter, the cubierta, or inside of the roof, is abovedado, or rounded, throughout the whole building…I could go on and on.
Once we had gotten past the churches, the real hike started. The climb got steeper and steeper and the roads changed from concrete to dirt and then to paths through the woods. We ended up hiking for over 2 hours. Needless to say I got quite the workout. I may have even gotten close to burning off my gigantic Spanish lunch, which I’m pretty sure consisted of an awesome potato dish followed by fried beef cutlets. When we got to the top, though, the view was definitely worth the climb. My camera’s battery died almost immediately, but I managed to get three photos of Oviedo in the valley, the surrounding mountains and the sun setting behind them:
The worst part is that I’m realizing that the pictures I take don’t do any of this justice. To actually have the opportunity to see all of this in person is beyond amazing.
We also finally got to see the statue of El Cristo at the top of the mountain. It’s similar to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro but this one is smaller.
The hike back down wasn’t nearly as bad as the climb up, but it was starting to get dark at this point, making it a wee bit more difficult than we were expecting.
Now that I had seen the mountains, it was time to check out the coast. My host brother Diego took me to Avilés this week. It’s a town to the northwest of Oviedo that’s situated around a ría, the part of the river that empties into the ocean. With its location right on the coast, it’s a great spot for sightseeing. So we rounded up Lluna and Deba this past Wednesday, hopped in Diego’s car and headed out around 4 o’clock. We went to El Cabo de Peñas, a cliff that has an old faro, or lighthouse, on it. The view was awesome:
Then we went to a couple of different beaches to let the dogs played in the sand and water:
I practiced English with Diego and we hung out while the sun set:
Yup, I could definitely get used to this.