"Oviedo, Principado de Asturias" Oviedo by TinyTuck
Oviedo Travel Guide: 67 reviews and 250 photos
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Oviedo is the Capital of the State of Asturias, in the North of Spain. It's a pleasant medieval city of 200,000, surrounded by mountains and wonderful green nature, and it's only 30 km off the Atlantic coast.
I lived in Oviedo for a year, and I have to say that I spent the best year of my life here!
Life in Oviedo
The "Casco antiguo" (old town) is very nice and has got that "special something". The architecture is really beautiful and there are a lot of cafés and restaurants, and always people in the streets, no matter when! People are always laughing and talking, and you also feel really comfortable walking around or having a coffee and snack all alone, as the Spanish do so as well. And it's really entertaining to watch the people around. You'll experience "la movida", the movement, which is a phenomenon unique to Spain, that I miss so much back here in Germany!
Nightlife is especially crazy and Thursday through Saturday the old town is full of people starting at like 12 or 1 o'clock at night until 7 or 8 in the morning! I have to say that nightlife seems to be equally "wild" in all parts of Spain, and Oviedo is no exception :-)! In the bars they mainly play Spanish dance music, which took me a while to get used to. A "bar" means a location without (or few) chairs, people are standing and/or dancing. It's usually very crowded: The Spanish love to be among people, plus if a bar is over-crowded it sure means that it's a good one, so they would squeeze themselves in, no matter what! You don't pay to get into the bars, plus you can dance, so there's not really a point in going to a real disco, unless you like house and techno music.
Unfortunately, it rains a whole lot (that's why it's so green, obviously :-)), but never for really long. The weather in the mountains generally changes very rapidly, and you're better off taking your umbrella AND sunglasses with you all year round! The people here really don't depend on the weather that much, they just carry their umbrellas around, and a rainfall never stops them from going shopping or going out (well, they don't really have a choice, haha!) - a fact that makes a rainfall seem much friendlier than as if the streets were cleared in just a few minutes as I know it from my home country!
Temperatures are moderate: In summer it sometimes reaches 30*C. The Atlantic Ocean is pretty cold all year around, as it's the open sea. You can go to the beach and swim, let's say from May to September, depending on your constitution, and on the weather, on which you really cannot rely!
In winter it generally doesn't go below 0*C, snow is rarely seen in town, while you can go skiing in the surrounding mountains.
Culture and costumes
Asturias has got some special cultural background, which dates back to the Celts. That's why the traditional instrument is the backpipe. Especially during summer time you can see groups of traditional musicians and dancers performing in their Asturian costumes. It's quite nice. Another specialty is the Asturian wooden shoe, similar to the Dutch one. People in the country actually wear those shoes!
The funniest tradition by far is the Sidra! (cidre) It's only served in so-called "Sidrarías", which also offer excellent local food. When you enter an Asturian 'Sidraría' you will notice a weird smell, wood shavings on the floor, and waiters pouring the Sidra in a very strange way, holding the bottle high above their heads and very elegantly hitting the glass! You'll have to drink your freshly served glass of Sidra right away and leave a tiny rest which you'll have to spill on the floor!
By the way, Asturias also has its own language, which is called Bable. It's a dialect of Spanish with it's own spellings and pronounciations, and even grammar, as I heard. However, it's very similar to Spanish, and you usually understand when listening carefully. Asturians are very pround of their language. Nowadays it's basically spoken in the country and sometimes by old people. However, there are also young people and rebels wanting to have Bable recogniced as a 5th national language, which it probably will never be.
As a Tourist in Oviedo
For a tourist Oviedo offers a few sights, especially the Cathedral with its Cámera Santa (which I actually never entered :-( ). One day would probably be sufficient to visit for the ordinary tourist. However, if you are into nature and outdoor activities you're in the right spot, Asturias is a natural paradise, "Paraíso Natural", which is even its slogan! And if you stay for a while and live la movida, get to know people (some Spanish is almost a must!), try typical food and drinks (the "Sidra" - don't you leave Asturias without having visited a Sidraría!!), and if you're in for some crazy nightlife you'll LOVE Oviedo, I guarantee you!
- Pros:Lovely city, beautiful nature, close to the beach
- Cons:The weather
- In a nutshell:Lively university city located in a natural paradise
You can see groups of tradional dancers quite often in town. more travel advice
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