Northern Spain and Grazalema

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

¡Que Suerte Tenemos!

How lucky we are! We have officially decided the Spain has to be on the list of the top 10 best countries in the world! We continue to be amazed at all this beautiful country has to offer. It is diverse in both its landscape as well as its people. It seems to offer a little bit of everything for everyone.
Jeanna and I decided that we needed to take advantage of one of our last weekends here in Espana. As you all can imagine by now, the bicycle played a role in our plans. The second Copa de Espana took place in Oviedo, Spain. Oviedo is a medium sized city that sits in the province of Asturias in the northern part of Espain. Jeanna and I planned our trip around this area to incorporate the bike race into our tourism. We took advantage of our four day work week and headed north immediately after school on Thursday. This was the part of the trip that Mr. Romer was dreading the most! Eight hours in el coche is not so bueno for the gentle giant. We decided to get the majority of the driving out in one day so that the remainder of the trip could be filled with more than the giant’s whining and complaining! Our first of many adventures was making a stop in Aranda del Duero (un pueblo a little over half way between Jaen and Santander). This beautiful little pueblo came highly recommended by some friends as a great place to stop and eat. They did not lead us astray although they did not warn the driver that the co-pilot would be offered an entire botella de vino tinto! The bottle made for a happy, then very soon sleepy, essentially worthless co-pilot but the dinner was enjoyed thoroughly by both sides. The rest of trip was made in the dark. We arrived in Santander some time between midnight and two. The early morning hours made for easy navigation within the city.
A good nights sleep in a cheap hotel by the port, which seemed to be directly from a seventies porno (did not look like that online) had us ready to hit the ground running. We decided to spend an hour or two walking around Santander. This turned out to be time well spent. Santander was absolutely beautiful and left us with the desire to return one day. It was nice to see different styles of architecture, and of course, being a gorgeous city on the beach didn’t hurt us either. Unfortunately, we had to move on as we had lots to do with poco tiempo! This would be a good time to say that this entire trip was done “Eli Style”. “Eli Style” is a glorified way of saying absolutely no planning whatsoever… Well, that is not entirely true, he knew that he was going to race his bike in Oviedo on Sunday. The rest was improvisation. Jeanna (doing her best to not be an organized little Debbie) did an amazing job of going with the unorganized flow!
As it turns out, luck was on Eli’s side. As he drove aimlessly towards the area where he thought that he had heard that maybe there was something cool or something like that (insert Eli Style) a GIANT road sign said this way you unorganized slacker! Whew, saved by the GIANT sign once again! The next several hours involved following the unorganized idiot signs which come and go at will! The luck continued as a stop for un cafĂ© con leche and a short conversation with the bar tender led us to an incredible little town in the Picos de Europa called Potes. It also turned out that the entire drive had us crawling through some of the most beautiful scenery the two of us had ever seen. The Picos de Europa should be on everyone’s “bucket list”! We are both putting it on ours and we have already been there (yes, it is that amazing)!
Luck continued to be on our side. We headed from the Picos (and in case you want to do some research, some cool towns we saw were: Cangas de Onis, Covadonga, Potes, Santillana del Mar, and Ribadesella) to the Playa hoping to find a place to stay for the night as captain procrastination (Mr. Spontaneous for those who see the glass half full) had not thought that far ahead! It just so happens that Co-Captain On Top of Everything had a book of all the youth hostels in her handy dandy purse of organization. This magic book lead us to a beach front hostel that was almost free! Yes, we stayed on the beach…and I mean ON THE BEACH…back door to the boardwalk… for less than 30 bucks! Go Miss Jeanna, Go! Ohh yeah, and we had an incredible evening learning about the Sidrerias de Asturias and sampling some of the local cuisine (completely different from the food in Andalucia…let’s just say they like their vaca, along with all the other animals that might possibly contribute to the making of a yummy cheese!)! We had a great evening and a great nights sleep with the sound of the oceans waves bidding us good night!
The mission the next morning was to make it to Oviedo and start thinking about the bike race! This was a mission that was easily accomplished even without planning! Captain Organization put a creative spin on the lack of planning and sent us to another city on the beach for breakfast (she is on top of things)! Gijon, was a beautiful stop and was less than 30 miles from our final destination. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast on the ocean front followed by a little walk around the town.
We made it to Oviedo just in time for an amazing lunch! We stuffed ourselves with great Asturian food! We then went for a little walk around the old city center. It was absolutely beautiful and great to walk around as it was limited to foot traffic only! The city was spotless and the architecture was great! Pictures cannot really do it justice…this is one of those places that one should just visit. Some of our friends came up on Saturday afternoon and a small group of us headed out to pre-ride part of the course. Miss Jeanna came along and went for a run while the boys took off on the bici’s…
Race day did not go quite as planned but we all had a great time. Mario (Eli’s Spanish Coach and good friend) won in his category and took the leader’s jersey. Eli was a little too fat to make it over the decisive climb (maybe a little less “sampling” new food next time?) and found himself in a small chase group behind the leaders, finishing fourth in his category. He ended the race saying something along the lines of, “man I should not have eaten all of that food… but man was it good”!
We had an incredible weekend. We had the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country we have both grown to love. We had the opportunity to see some new towns, try some new food (although some of us could have done without hahahahaha), and meet some great people. Maybe one day Eli will learn how to eat less and ride more but until then, we will continue enjoying and making the most of every moment we have left here in Espain! Thank you again to all of those that have supported us in this adventure. We look forward to seeing all of you again!


Connie Eastburn said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed "Romer Travels." This is an area Mom and I would like to visit. You two have made Spain a second home and I am certain that as you ready to return to Oregon, you are secretly making plans to return to Spain. We missed you guys. Now get on the plane and head west.

Beautiful pictures!
"Eli Style" ----I like it! Dad

Pat said...

Hey Elijah, it was nice meeting you this weekend at Elkhorn.

My wife actually studied in Oviedo for a year before we got married & is heading back there this fall. Asturias (& Sidra) are an amazing. I think of Oviedo and Gijon as second homes.

Look forward to seeing you around at races this summer.