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Plaza del Paraguas – The Umbrella Plaza

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Our first two months in Asturias were marked by incredibly sunny weather. People kept warning us that this wasn’t normal, and to prepare ourselves for rain in October.

They were right. The entire month of October was grey and rainy. One particularly miserable Saturday night, we got caught in a downpour on our way home from the bars. The streets were full of young party people, and all of them were wielding umbrellas. I found that amusing; it would never occur to me to bring my umbrella clubbing, but such precaution is second-nature to Asturians.

Rain is a part of life here, and the Plaza del Paraguas is a cute wink to Oviedo’s dreary weather. Found at the end of Calle San Isidro, the “Umbrella Plaza” is popular with the city’s youth as an evening hang-out spot. It was developed in the 1920s as a milk market, and the large concrete umbrella in the center provided cover for the milk ladies.

Location on our Oviedo Map

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October 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm Comments (0)

Visiting the Somiedo Natural Park

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Looking for a Hotel in Somiedo?

We chose an excellent day to visit the Somiedo National Park, found a couple hours south of Oviedo. The sun was bright and the weather warm. With a refreshing breeze coming from the north, it was a perfect early-autumn day, putting us in great spirits and bringing out the most beautiful aspects of the park.

Somiedo Photos

Somiedo is both a municipality of a couple thousand people and a Natural Park, part of which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. With mountains reaching over 2000 meters, a rich diversity of fauna and flora, and a scarce human presence, it’s an uncommonly lovely region.

The most famous inhabitants of Somiedo are the endangered Cantabrian brown bears. Though they reach up to two meters in height and 200 kilos in weight, the bears are timid and had been on the verge of extinction due to poaching and human encroachment. But recent conservation and protection efforts have seen their number grow. We were on the lookout, but I think actually spotting one is nearly impossible. The bears have learned to stay away from humans.

Cattle farming is the way of life among somedanos, as the few people who live in the park refer to themselves. Theirs is a pastoral lifestyle straight out of the 1700s. Farmers still moved their herds by foot across the mountains and valleys, and make use of cabins called teitos, which are stone buildings with a thatched straw roof: a construction unique to Somiedo. Spotted across the valleys, teitos blend in well to the stony landscape, suggesting a human presence that exists in a respectful relationship with the Earth.

During our trip, we also visited the majestic Lago del Valle, the largest lake in Asturias, which demands a long hike through the valley to reach.

Location on our Day Trips Map

Green Spain
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Fauna Somiedo
Hiking Somiedo
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Cows Somiedo
Cricket Sex
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Somiedo Road Trip
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Straw Hut
Somiedo Hut
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Dinosaur Asturias

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September 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm Comments (7)

Parque del Campillín

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An oddly-shaped park on the southern side of the city, the Campillín is the second largest green area in the city center, behind the Campo de San Francisco. To be honest, though, it’s less a “park” than the side of a hill outfitted with paths and benches.

APS Oviedo

In the middle ages, blacksmiths practiced their craft in the Campillín, and in 1829 it was shuttered up after having become a place of rampant prostitution. During the Civil War, the park was completely destroyed. It’s only recently been renovated, and now host a popular flea market on Sundays with second-hand clothes, toys, films, books, and any other type of junk you might care to imagine.

This being Oviedo, there are also plenty of statues in the park, including one of the author Ramón Pérez de Ayala, who was born in a nearby building. His most famous work is “Belarmino y Apolonio”, a 1921 novel analyzing transcendental doubt and the religious soul, available for free download if you’re really have nothing better to do.

Although the Campillín isn’t as beautiful as San Francisco, it’s worth passing through when you find yourself on that side of the city. Perhaps after a big meal at the nearby Yantar de Campomanes.

Location on our Oviedo Map

Pigeon Statue Oviedo
Statues Oviedo
Campillin Oviedo
Campillin Park
Oviedo Flea Market
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Struppy Barbie

Spanish Online Flea Market

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September 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm Comments (3)

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