Spain by car.

The day after the Louisville pilgrims left Jon, Joao and I rented a car. We took that day to burn up the Spanish highways for a quick look-see of the northern coast and a side trip to Oviedo, the town that Jon became enamored with on a side trip from Leon with Jim. We picked up this little Fiat Panda and proceeded to put the km’s on it. In the end, even being a really economical car, the gas came to more than twice the rental cost at about $90.00 for the day. We did some miles! Joao wound up taking most of the pictures so I will have to wait for those to add to the gallery, but I did manage to get some of Oviedo. When we left Santiago it was overcast but the more east we drove, the better the weather became until we were in clear, blue skies again. What we saw was the majestic mountains of northern Spain and the beautiful coast. We wanted to stop in the coastal city of Gijon for lunch but it really was too congested. The town is very modern and business-like and could be any modern metropolis anywhere. Detours downtown meant that getting to the actual coast was going to take time so we decided to head south to Oviedo, our main destination about 30 km away. When Jim and Jon were there, Jon had wanted to visit the church of San Julian de los Prado but it was closed.

Church of San Julian de los Prado

He was hoping to see the inside this time but again, it was closed. You can read about it here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Juli%C3%A1n_de_los_Prados

Apparently access is limited and seasonal. so, off we went to the downtown to see the Cathedral…which was also closed. Not out best day trip for sightseeing. We parked the car downtown, had lunch nearby and went for a walk in older section. We had to content ourselves with just looking about and enjoying the town from the street, but that was not a problem. Oviedo is a beautiful and sophisticated town ringed by mountains on three sides. Clearly it is a city worth living in for sheer beauty of it.

The sidewalks of Oviedo

One thing that I noticed was that the sidewalks were cut from these huge slabs of beautiful striated stones. It looks almost like marble although it is much harder so it can’t be, as marble could not withstand the wear. They use both the red/white variant and the black/white variant, with the black/white used for the street paving.  It was dry that day and it looked a little dull, but I can imagine it on a rainy day with all of the colors vivid. The architecture in the downtown stretches through the centuries with the oldest in the center and more modern on the periphery.

Oviedo architecture

I took a few pictures to get a sense of the variation.

After leaving Oviedo we headed back up the coast. Joao took several pictures from the highway bridges as we rode over them. Unfortunately there was no place to stop so I didn’t take anything (driving) but I will say this; they build some high bridges! In many instances the valley below was way below. All in all it was a beautiful road trip. We didn’t really do much, we just had a wonderful opportunity to see the countryside. By the time we made out way back to Santiago it was night and the rain had kicked in. After dropping the car off at the rental agency near the airport we caught the bus back to Santiago and stopped for dinner.

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