Rain and Museums
Taking in Oviedo’s inner-beauties has been a focus of mine since acclimating to the city. We have been experiencing a lot of rain—apparently the norm here—so this week I sought out indoor activities. While aimlessly roaming around the city center and simultaneously becoming BFF’s with my umbrella, I stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall art museum. My friend and I decided to check it out and to our surprise entrance was free for students. (Go Spain for investing in education and the arts! America, take notes.) The museum, seemingly minuscule from the outside, was anything but! This cozy museum had 3 floors full of paintings, sculptures, figurines, tapestries, relics, and ceramics.
Each room varied based upon theme, but one room stood out to me the most: El Greco. The museum had a room with its four walls lined with amazing paintings from Greco, which included self-portraits. Not only do I admire the works of Greco, but I also found it so interesting to to analyze his paintings and make connections to what we learned during our tours throughout Madrid. I left the museum in awe, stunned that such an off-the-grid museum in a small city in Spain could be home to such fantastic, well-renowned art pieces.
As the weekend arrived, the weather started to change from clouds and rain to just….clouds. (It’s better than rain though, right?) Luckily, the weather “cleared up” just in time for Carnaval, a country-wide celebration. The origins of the tradition stem from Catholicism with hints of European paganism in which people indulge in foods, drinks, and dress up (think Halloween) for the last day before the 40 days of Lent. In the province of Asturias, there are three principle celebrations: in Avilés, Gijón, and lastly, Oviedo.
We were advised by our program director, professors, and host families that going to Avilés was a must. Everyone argued that Avilés was the most elaborate celebration of the three and that it was something not only super fun, but so central to the Spanish culture. So, I and a group of friends decided to hop on a 30-minute bus ride to Avilés and join in on the festivities. Before we left, however, we made a quick trip to buy matching masks and ponchos at the dollar store. (We were warned that we would get wet during the Carnaval parade, so we came prepared as to stay dry.)
Upon arrival in Aviles, we followed crowds of people, young and old, dressed in silly costumes. We arrived early because we walked to explore before the party started, so we took a quick break and grabbed a café con leche. In no time, however, the parade began, and the foam machines went wild. (Yes, there were foam machines spraying and filling the streets with foam!) As we watched the parade pass by, we braced for impact and quickly threw on our ponchos. After all the floats passed, we decided to head on back to Oviedo and skip the concert. (I’m a party pooper—it’s okay). We concluded our night with a big pizza from a local shop next door to our university!
Whether it be the hidden gems in Oviedo, or grand celebrations in Avilés, this week in Spain has been one for the books!