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            Woke at 10:30 and left Santander (Cantabria) at 2 PM for the 125 mile 2.5 hour drive (Marcia) to Oviedo over beautiful countryside.  We leave Cantabria and enter the state of Asturias.  What a beautiful part of Spain.  This tiniest of Spanish states has over 1 million people.  The hotel Principado is right in the heart of the old town.  After a run through the old city and the fantastic park called Campo de San Francisco and then the new parts of the city, I become more and more impressed.  To me this is the little Vienna of Spain; new and old melded beautifully, very clean and the architecture is spectacular - just nice to walk around and look at.  These Spaniards take even more pride than the rest in what kind of a city they want to live in.  American city planners should study Oviedo.  I hunted all over town for an internet facility and found out later it was directly across the street from the hotel (open 24 hrs to boot).  Marcia & I had coffee at a bar on Urria St. (the main drag) and called Rebecca for her birthday.  We then hunted in the old town for the recommended restaurant and found it was closed so we sniffed our way to Faro Vidio and first had a glass of Sidra.  This is special to this region.  It is a special cider (alcoholic, of course) they serve here in Asturias and they pour it with the bottle 4ft above the glass causing aeration and some spillage (traditional).  I thought I had ordered lobster but what I got was 4 tiny langostinos.  So I told the waiter I wanted GRANDE homard and this time I got a large lobster like those from Maine but it was blue.  It was very good but cost me $65.  Next time I'll ask the precios (price) first.  It was a wonderful dinner but one of the priciest (like Vienna also).  After dinner I did the email and got to bed at 3:30.

Woke at 8, 9 and finally 10:40.  Ran totally in the park which was cool and nice then walked newer areas of the city.  Discovered a coffee shop that actually made me a real Italian cappuccino - this place really is civilized.  I hated to leave this wonderful city but we had a long drive so we headed to the mountain above the city to visit two ancient churches that were built in the 9th century (800s) and they are still standing.  Almost good views of the city but there was a slight haze everywhere (the beginning of Galician weather).  The weather was changing.  We left at 3 PM for the 180 mile 3:20 drive (Marcia made me drive second half) to the first city in the state of Galicia (gah-lee-thee-ah), the farthest north and west province.  Once we crossed the border I noticed a subtle but definite change in the quality of things - Galicia is a different place, no question. La Coru˝a (Lah-core-roon-yah) is on the Atlantic coast (north) and the last major city to the west.  It sits on a peninsula.  It is nicknamed the Crystal city because all the large buildings facing the ocean have these large series of glass windows.  On the drive in, there was a huge true-to-life replica of Superman holding up the bridge.  We stopped and looked at the 17th century fortress and then found the Torre (tower) de Hercules.  This is the oldest continually operating lighthouse in Europe and it was built by the Romans (with the help of Hercules).  The present facade was added in the 1700s.  We drove around and nosed our way to the central plaza which was huge and parked the BMW right in it (illegally - there was no other place to put it).  The plaza is named Maria Pita after the woman that warned the city of Sir Francis Drake's (England) attacking ships and stole his flag to boot.  Her statue is in the center facing the huge city hall.  We sat for a coffee planning to look on the map for the restaurant the couple in Santander recommended as the best (A Penela) and found it was right next to us.  Unfortunately, it was closed so we walked around the old part of the city and entered several medieval churches while weddings were going on.  We saw an art exhibit in the baroque city hall building and decided that maybe we should forget dinner here and head on to Santiago.  On the drive out we noticed a huge Spiderman climbing one of the buildings (very realistic) - something is going on in La Coru˝a.

 

 

KJH                                                               Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #23 

Oviedo, Asturias, Espa˝a

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

KHofferMD@AOL.com         RETURN TO INDEX              

SENT 8-21-01

PHOTOS: 22Oviedo

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