Misadventures and novelties in Oviedo, Spain
The view from my flat.
I’ve been in Oviedo a week now and I can’t say it hasn’t been eventful...Following an emotional departure from Stansted (the only airport that flies to Asturias from the UK) I arrived in Oviedo, only to leave my travel wallet containing passport, phone, money and all, on the connecting bus from the airport. Luckily all showed up after the bus had made a return trip to the airport and back, 2 hours later and 150€ down, which the kind person who had handed it in had obviously taken as their reward. Nonetheless no one was hurt and I was just thankful I had my passport as I have learnt it seems to be impossible to do anything without it in Spain.
After the initial panic I had a few days to relax and explore, taking in the stunning surroundings, including a quick canoe trip down the River Sella, thanks to a great birthday present from my lovely boyfriend. This did not however interrupt the flat hunting which commenced on the night of arrival with my amazing and mad Spanish boss, Belén, who has taken it upon herself to act as my Spanish mother. The third flat I saw was absolutely stunning and the cheapest by a long way, so I was handed the keys right there and then and I’m now living with a Columbian girl, doing her PhD here, and a Bulgarian Erasmus student, in a spacious top floor apartment on Calle Palmira Villa, with amazing views. The Spanish attitude towards housing is so much more laid back than I’d imagined and the landlady popped round 2 days after I’d moved in for me to sign her contract, which was an A4 page that she had typed up herself. Brilliant!
Once settled in I started to notice the little quirks that Oviedo holds as a Spanish city. For example their famous sidra which costs about 2,40€ for a litre bottle and is poured from up high and (supposedly) drunk in one gulp, which I have to admit I have not yet achieved. The pouring technique is also not the most efficient with half of it ending up on the floor giving the ‘it’s just poured it down with rain’ effect in the streets, which did baffle us on the first beautifully clear and starry night. Tapas or ‘pinchos’ are also brought round without fail in the bars FOR FREE and range from small portions of tortilla to bread based chorizo bites, which I suppose is not surprising seeing the sheer quantities of cheap meat out here. Looks like everyone is getting Spanish chorizo for Christmas!
Another thing I have noticed is that letters and birthday cards just do not exist in Oviedo, I don’t know about the rest of Spain, but in Oviedo if you ask someone if you can buy a set of letters and envelopes, you either get looked at as if you’re from the 19th century, when letter writing was obviously all the rage, or if you’re lucky get handed a single sheet of handmade paper that’ll cost you 1,25 €! I should probably start looking in the vending machines which seem to sell everything from pharmaceutical products to bouquets of flowers! So a warning to everyone at home, that if you receive a letter from me, it will be in the form of a piece of coloured paper torn from a children’s scrapbook that I eventually found in a department store. Nothing like improvisation!
As for real work here I start on Monday and as usual the Spanish attitude of ‘mañana, mañana’ is shining through, as it appears I’m in more contact with Belén (having dinner with her family and partying with her 18 year old daughter) than the Spanish Ministry of Education is. Whilst they have not failed to maintain their laid back approach to administration here, the family themselves have definitely lived up to the Spanish reputation of being excellent hosts!