Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aviles, Asturias

Because Jennifer is doing such a great job of documenting our trip, I
will defer to her to tell you the details. Read if you are interested,
or just follow the link to see the pictures posted to the web. The
picture viewer is a little different than the other ones I used
before, you click on the picture to make if big, then use the arrow
keys to switch to the next picture. The pictures take a minute to
load, and the appear in random order. I think we will switch back to
the other method tomorrow.


We were supposed to pick up the bikes at 8:30 am, but all three of us
slept in (well, we were walking up until after 10 pm, so no surprise).
No one had set an alarm. The bike shop called us asking where we were!
So we weren't able to pick up the bikes until almost 2 pm because the
bike shop guy had some errands to run. We went back to sleep and woke
up around noon! It felt good to catch up on sleep. We packed up the
car and headed over to the bike shop by car. Yes, this was the first
time we got into a car since our arrival to spain. Gonzalo has a Honda
CRX and is very uncomfortable driving it around Madrid. It doesn't
seem particularly difficult to me to figure out how to get around…
although, the street signs are on the sides of the buildings and not
always the easiest to see while driving.

Elia met us at the house. She was traveling with us and we're staying
at her house/condo in Aviles. She is Gonzalo's friend since high
school. Elia speaks ZERO English. Before this, we weren't engaging in
much learning of Spanish, but now, we needed a crash course. We have
to keep telling her to slow down so we have a chance in comprehending
something. Most of the time, we need Gonzalo to help interpret. Or we
end up waving our hands sculpting what we are trying to say, but
unsure if either is understanding a thing. During our 450 kilometer
drive to Avila, we taught each other a few words… sky blue is "cielo
azul". And poppy is amopola. Hierba is grass. It was funny how Elia
had difficulty saying "grass." In Spain, the "s" and "z" sounds are
said a "th". So azul is said here "athule." So grass with the ss was
difficult for her! We also passed by some grape vines. I called them
"uvas" and she explained to me that there weren't grapes on them, just
vines, so they were "parras."

Ok, enough Spanish. Back to the bikes! We went to this bike shop's
garage (storage garage) on the northeast side of Madrid. While waiting
for the guy to show up, we walked over to an Italian coffee shop. I
got something as close as to what I get at Starbucks… I had to mix my
own sugar and it was tiny… maybe 8 oz. Tony's cafe latte was even
smaller… a shot size. The bike guy met us over there on his bike. My
bike is a blue GT 50 cm bike (a little big for me) with 53/39 gearing
and Tony's is a Jamis. We put on our own pedals and seats. We loaded
them up on a rack on the back of the Honda.

We stopped in the Villa de Rueda at the Bodega Museo Palacio de Bornos
for a snack. They had many vinos (wines), quesos (cheese), aceita de
oliva (olive oil)… gigantic 3 gallon containers, and chorizo. We ate
some jamon sandwiches (ham). We also bought some pan (bread), queso,
and turrones (almond & sugar peanut butter-like dessert) to take with

On the drive, we saw some castilles (castles), little towns and big
towns, sheep, horses, arid flat lands and mountains, green grass,
poppies, old churches, sun, rain, trains, windmills, and solar panels.
We went through a number of tunnels through the mountains and after
the last tunnel, the mountains went from rocky and arid to very green
and lush with many trees.

The cities of Oveida and Aviles are very industrial cities. The steel
industry used to be big here. There is a river that runs next to
Aviles where industry set up shop years ago. Aviles is fairly large
with numerous 6 story buildings lining the streets. It is also
mountainous here. We rode our bike up one of the city hills that
overlooked the city. Up there were quaint homes along narrow, winding
streets. There are cats roaming the streets and we saw one that looked
exactly like our orange cat, Murphy! I was hoping that he wasn't some
angel Murphy and that Murphy is ok. :)

Elia's house is on the third floor of one of this 6 story building on
the corner or Jose Cuerto and Avda de la constitucion in Aviles. It is
right next to a large "futbol" stadium (soccer). Her house is fairly
large with several bedrooms and two baths, a large living/dining area,
and a nice kitchen. She has been remodeling it with beautiful tile
work. There is art on all the walls. Simply, yet very nicely
decorated. Elia and Gonzalo fixed dinner. They served some unique and
marvelous tasting queso, tortilla (omelet w/patatas) the best chorizo
I've had yet, ensalada with olivas, and gigantic pan.

Elia was wearing a shirt that had an English phrase on it. She did not
know what it said. It had maybe spelled "mayde". We asked her about it
and she said that she bought it at the Chinese Store across the street
for cheap (Wal-Mart ala Spain, but very small stores packed with
junk). That was so very funny.

When we arrived at Aviles, Gonzalo was unsure of the parking situation
and dropped us off on the street with our bags. For me, this felt like
mass confusion as I was afraid if I walked two feet from our bags that
they would walk. We hustled our bags up the stairs and Tony and I
quickly got dressed to go for a bike ride. It was 8:30 pm and so we
had about an hour before dark. The temperature here is cooler… I wore
arm warmers and tights. We rode out to the ocean to Salinas. This was
a cute little town on the ocean with houses on tight streets and a
long tiled path along the ocean. The path led out to a viewing point
with some interesting Miro-like steel art. From here, we had a good
view of the town and a lighthouse across the bay. The sun was starting
to set at this point, so we took a couple photos and headed back for
home. Well, my tire started to feel like I was going over bumps. The
tire was coming off the rim and wasn't seated properly. Tony fixed it
quickly and we didn't have any more bike problems. My fit wasn't great
since we didn't have much time to mess with it (just make it good
enough not to hurt). It was on our way back we climbed up a hill to
view Aviles. I really like the towns on top of the hills. There is no
shortage of hill climbing around here!

Our internet connection is worse than in Madrid. We have to plaster
the computer to the window, and even then, there is an intermittent
signal. Today we plan on riding out along the ocean near the
lighthouse. It is raining off and on, but this seems to be the climate
pattern here.

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