Following our few days in Leon , next stop was Oviedo , the capital city of the Asturias Region of Spain. We made the journey by train through beautiful countryside on a fabulous day.We stayed at the modern Hotel Monumental and enjoyed our stay.
Oviedo is the original start point of the Camino de Santiago as it was from here that King Alfonso II (791-842) set out to verify the remains of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela.It isn’t a big city but its very pleasant with a very nice historic quarter with lots. of bars and restaurants and inevitably there’s an impressive Cathedral.
Here again we enjoyed the food and drink which majors on seafood , meats ,sausages and cheese.The dish of choice here is Fabada and I loved it – a stew of asturias white beans with blood sausages ,ham and pork sausages – but we also enjoyed great fish stews.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a Craft Beer shop here but the local tipple in this region is cider.There are cider bars which specialise in cider , of course , but its served everywhere and most of the locals seem to drink it. Watching cider being served is rather amusing ; the cider isn’t carbonated and is flat and can be bitter tasting and so the drink is poured into the glass from a height of two feet or so in the air into a special glass with the objective of “breaking” the cider to give it an injection of bubbles. The server only pours a mouthful of cider ,passes the glass to the customer and then moves on around the room pouring more drinks for whoever is ready for another mouthful! Rather strange. The pouring is usually pretty accurate and is done with a straight back and a serious expression on the face but it doesn’t always quite all go straight into the glass and inside restaurants the pouring is usually done over a receptacle to catch any cider that misses the glass!
This is another town that we really enjoyed.Very friendly with some great food and drink!
Whilst we always love the historic quarters of the Spanish towns we visit, there is often a pleasant more modern city for shopping and strolling. Oviedo has a very smart and pleasant commercial area still with plenty of bars and eateries , a very nice park and , of course , shopping.Oh ,and some interesting statues…
Next we travel north by train about 15 miles , but still in Asturias , to Gijon ( pronounced hi-hon – sort of).
The city of Leon is capital of the province of Leon in northwest Spain and another town on the Camino route to Santiago de Compostela.Its a beautiful city full of history having been founded by the Romans in the first century BC with a fabulous historic centre of narrow streets packed with bars and restaurants.Its a full on place for food and drink and night life – a great vibe and we loved it!
We stayed at Hospederia Moastica Pax , a 3* hotel in the main wing of a converted monastery that is still active. We liked this hotel a lot , comfortable rooms with nice courtyards in a beautiful old building.
Lots and lots of lovely old buildings here but the highlight for us was the 13th C Leon Cathedral with its 125 incredible stained glass windows – have to include loads of photos of this!
We spent 3 nights here but we could have stayed longer – a top place.
A Coruna is a port city sitting on a promontory in the Galicia Region of northwest Spain. Its a place that many people will never have heard of except for football fans – Deportivo de La Coruna is a professional football club once playing in La Liga but currently in the Spanish Second Division.
A Coruna (and also Ferrol nearby) is where the Camino Ingles began where medieval pilgrims disembarked from their boats to start their treck to Santiago de Compostela. It’s also famous for a Roman lighthouse – the Tower of Hercules and some standing stones ,Menhires for Peace , which appear monolithic from a distance but were actually built as recently as 1994 as a tribute to the Celtic heritage of Galicia.
Its a pleasant town with an interesting port , at least one nice beach that we saw , a commercial centre and some interesting architecture with a medieval area ,like all the towns in N W Spain.
We stayed in the commercial area at the pleasant Moon Hotel , conveniently beside our favourite Department Store El Corte Ingles. From here its a short walk to the Paseo Maritime , a 24km long promenade which gives some very nice walking around the promontory on which the city sits.
We didn’t enjoy the best of weather during our visit but its fair to say that this probably isn’t a town which overseas visitors would visit other than as part of a tour of the area or as a port of call on a Cruise .We enjoyed the visit nevertheless but 3 nights here were enough. Next stop Leon.
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the Galicia Region of north west Spain and was the shrine of Saint James and the foundation of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which is said to contain the remains of Saint James and has been the destination of thousands upon thousands of pilgrims every year since the 9th century.
There is quite a large historic centre contain the Cathedral itself and many historic buildings in narrow winding streets. Sadly much of the historic centre is a tourist trap lined with bars and restaurants and shop after shop selling tourist tat.This is also the site of the University of Santiago de Compostela and the numbers of students and young visitors result in a busy and noisy nightlife .This is a lovely city but for us spoilt by the crowds .After 3 nights here we were ready to escape the herds and move on to the far north and the town of A Coruna.
We arrived in Pontevedra on July 16 2018. We were staying in a small but quite modern and comfortable hotel and within an easy walk of the historic centre. This was our first stop in our summer 2017 Spain itinerary which would take us north through Rias Baixas to Santiago de Compostela and then on into Galicia, Asturias ,Leon , Cantabria and Rioja , ending up at San Sebastian in the Basque Country in time for their Semana Grande , their August Festival.
We stayed 3 nights in Pontevedra and this was quite enough for what is only a small town .This north west corner of Spain is very different to the East coast Costas that we are more familiar with.The towns very much have their own identity and cuisine which majors on fish and seafood and especially octopus and there are some beautiful little villages with fabulous beaches. The downside is that it does rain quite a bit more than on the east side of the country although not during our visit.
A Day Trip to O Grove
Ogrove is a small fishing holiday resort a few miles from Potevedra , much favoured by the Spanish. There are hotels and restaurants galore but the highlight for us was the fresh food market with some great fresh fish stalls.