Friday, August 31, 2012

My Trip to the North of Spain, part 1.


Hi there, it's time to talk about my trip to the north. As I mentioned here, I have visited three new autonomous communities in northern Spain, La Rioja, Asturias and Pais Vasco (Basque Country). 
  
La Rioja had me at the wine, as the denominación de origen (qualified designation of origen) of Rioja is one of the most famous in Spain. To me, coming from Norway, wine production is extremely exotic! There’s just not a whole lot of grape- and wineproduction there. (And in case you didn’t read my sarcasm, I can assure you there is no grape that would be willing to live in such harsh climates.) Visiting a winery was one of the things high up on my list of incredible experiences when I came to Catalunya as there is also quite the wine production going on here, with the denominación de origen Penedés, mostly famous for white wines and Cava. More on that some other time... 



Asturias
had me at the cider. Applewine if you like. It’s quite the institution up in Asturias (and also in Pais Vasco) and I had heard about how they serve it and it being quite the show. Different and unique things attract me, and I really wanted to see this. (Yeah, I’ll admit it, it sounded somehow exotic too. We do grow apples in Norway, but there’s not a lot of cider Asturian style going on.)


Then Pais Vasco attracted me as I have always thought it would be quite different too, with their history of fighting for independence from Spain, with their other language euskera, which is completely different from Spanish, with their boldness in innovation in tecnology and science, and of course-the pinxos, basque style tapas.


Unfortunately there was no time for the last autonomous community up north, Galicia, but I will definitely go back to visit some day. I hear it's beautiful, and I am so fascinated with the Camino de  Santiago, the pilgrimage route (which has existed for more than a thousand years) which ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Anyway, -Asturias! Known for being very green,  for the Picos de Europa mountain range, and for the cider. (At least that’s what I know Asturias for.) Honestly, the cities of Asturias I visited dissapointed a little (Gijon, Oviedo).They just didn’t make a great impression on me. Have a I really just seen so many beautiful places and cities in Spain that I have become picky? Can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but I have no need to return there. Which is fine enough, cause I have plenty of places I’d love to return to, and only this life to do it! The inland area, with the mountains and valleys is beautiful though.

Highlights from Asturias to me would be:
  •  The cider. Fun and messy. To be served from at least a meter above the glass. Why? Because it’s naturally still, but when it hits the glass from a great distance it breaks out and activates the sparkle.
    • The town of Cangas de Onis. Inland town, part of the National Park, Picos de Europa. Beautiful old Roman Bridge. Charming town. Gorgeous surroundings with views to the mountains.


       
    • Stumbling across a group of gaiteros in Oviedo. I actually thought I didn’t like bagpipes all that  much, but it sounded really cool. The celtic influence is very much alive in today’s Asturias. Made the day in Oviedo!




    Well, that's about it for Asturias... One region down, two to go!