Monday, 25 July 2016

JULY 2016 : SPAIN : CAMINO PRIMITIVO : DAY 1 : Oviedo - Grado - 21kms

The Camino Primitivo connects to the Camino Del Norte, starting near San Sebastián, which we walked last year.

The Primitivo became a more popular route to Santiago in the ninth century when Alfonso 11 established Oviedo as a defence against the Moors and guaranteed more safety for pilgrims than the coastal path or the Camino France's route further south. Considered to be more difficult because of the mountainous terrain but as far as we are concerned it could be cooler and level of difficulty is not more than our walking in Australia. We are not in a hurry to complete it and will take a rest/ sightseeing day in Lugo about day 9, recommended on the guidebook.


Today we walked from Oviedo to Grado. A rural walk through small towns,

St James Day - the patron saint of Spain. Huge celebrations in Santiago and a public holiday.

Despite being a holiday there were many bars open early this morning in Oviedo, so we could have a decent breakfast, buy some lunch and head off early.

We were fortunate to follow a Spanish family out of the city.

It was about 45 mins and we were out in the countryside.

It was pleasant walking in light, drizzly rain along hedge rows and minor roads.

Local fountains for fresh drinking water.

Ancient church of St Fatima in a tiny hamlet.

Lovely views across the valleys.

Shady paths..

Small farming plots - corn, lettuce, potatoes.. and a few sunflowers.

...some stunning passionfruit vines

Some wild poppies

Lunch was tortilla - potato omelette with tomato, ham purchased at the bar this morning. Very tasty..despite its appearance. Mark had a bocadillo with cheese and ham. 

Walking into Grado.. a busy commercial town.

Tired, a little footsore on our first day. The new albergue is full - only 16 beds. Fortunately a local bar, Auto Bar, has accommodation and provision for a pilgrim meal and breakfast. Very happy as we can rest and have everything on tap. 

We were amused at the size of the shower...

Very friendly staff and lots of pilgrims coming. A much busier route than expected.

Evening meal provided!


Sunday, 24 July 2016

JULY 2016 : Oviedo


A tourist day today discovering the delights of Oviedo. A city in the Picos Europa mountain chain in the green belt of Spain. A thriving city with a large shopping precinct, well preserved 'old town', fascinating sculptures and beautifully maintained gardens.

                                     Planning over breakfast.


                                               Ready and rearing to go.

Captivating architecture.

An old friend, Woody Allen, for recognition of putting Oviedo on the tourist map after making his movie, Cristina Barcelona, partly in the city.

Parque de San Francisco. Six hectares of beautiful parkland in the middle of the city. The arch is a remnant of the Convent of San Francisco, which was previously housed on this land.

Creatures galore..

Some more unusual than others.


The city was founded in the ninth century by the Asturian King Alfonso 2 as a defence against the powerful Muslim emirate of C├│rdoba. This cathedral was begun in the fourteenth century on the site of the original church. Pilgrims also made Oviedo part of their pilgrimage to Santiago avoiding the coastal route and the warring Moors. This tower is 82m and a stunning feature.


                          The cathedral is also famous for this depiction of the Transfiguration.


             One of the cloisters bordering the cathedral. This one near the old church of San Vincente, 
             now the modern archeological museum.


      The museum has Stone Age, early Human, Roman and Medieval relics. This is the femur of an     elephant from the Stone Age sector.


                           Painted wooden figures from the Medieval section found in Asturia.


We thought being a Sunday and a long weekend with a national holiday that it might be very quiet. We sat down for a lunch at a cafe and the parade began...first the crowds out to enjoy the beautiful weather.....


then hundreds of market stalls appeared....

Local Celtic bands appeared from nowhere...

Beautifully dressed in their provincial costumes...

                                                               Pipes and drums.


Then up the winding streets appeared a dancing group, accompanied by pipes, tamborines and drum.

                                        Everyone dressed up to celebrate their local heritage.


At the cathedral this morning a Benedictine nun from the Monasterio San Pelayo asked us to come to vespers at 7. A simple sung service. 

       Tonight we are staying at Albergue de Peregrinos de El Salvador. 6 euros per person.

                         It's in an old monastery and looks quite derelict from the outside.


            Inside it is clean with good kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities.  We have our own room.

              We begin walking in the morning. Fingers crossed all goes to plan.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

JULY 2016 : Madrid to Oviedo

Our last morning in Madrid before heading north to Oviedo. This is our fifth visit and we seem to discover something new on every occasion. This time our hotel was so central, which made travelling around the city and dining so easy.

A bit more of an elaboration on the Museo CaixaForum. The stunning entrance.


   The modern minimalist clean-lined, light interior.

The main stairway.

The main exhibition was from the American collector, Duncan Phillip's museum.


                           Including a Degas ... not featured in the Melbourne exhibition obviously


         and some exquisite Pierre Bonnard's.


          A short walk towards the El Retiro gardens


            Bookseller market


           A rose garden


        Then a stone's throw to the station...and off we go...


          A very comfortable 5 hour trip with music and movies.


              From the hot plains...


             to the mountains....


         A budget hotel for our first night, 25 euros per person, near the old town.


            Dinner at a traditional bar - battered cod and traditional finely sliced prosciutto dishes. We ate at 8 - most tables reserved from 9.45pm.