Today Phil and I visited the Museu del Pueblu d’Asturies (the museum of Asturias). Asturias is the larger region and autonomous community we reside in in Spain (similar to a US state) and Gijon is the city we live in in Asturias. The museum was a rainy, half hour walk from our place. I knew moving to Asturias rain was a common weather pattern, and today it alternated between a heavy mist and a drizzle; so it was perfectly comfortable to be out and about as we had our umbrellas with us.
The museum was located right across from the Gijon soccer team’s (aptly named Sporting Gijon) stadium. Phil is really hoping things open up enough here that we can go and see a game when the new season starts. At first it looked as if the museum might be closed due to obvious construction near the entrance but we were able to read the signs well enough that directed us around the building and to the entrance. A nice fellow greeted us at the desk, advised us to please not walk on the freshly painted floors, gave us a map, and we were off. The museum grounds consisted of several buildings on about 2 acres of land.
We started in the main building which provided a peek into both middle class/bourgeoisie and working class/peasants living conditions, household items, and tools from the 1780’s through 1965. It was so interesting and we enjoyed seeing the juxtaposition of the lives of the citizenry depending on the luck of the draw at their birth.
We then moved onto the Valdes Manor which housed a photograph exhibit of found and developed negatives from the early 1900’s everyday life in Asturias, which was somber but so cool. Then we walked next door to the House of Gonzalez which is home to a bagpipe museum (the Gaita Asturiana is a traditional, Asturian bagpipe). There were also many other musical instruments including the hurdy-gurdy which I’d heard of but never seen. Look it up. That thing is crazy.
After leaving the bagpipe museum we walked around the grounds and popped into the various other buildings: cider press, peasant house, horreos (grain storrage), and chozo ucorros (mountain shepherd refuge). These buildings gave us a look at the old cider pressing process, grain processing and storage, of normal life in the region. The outdoor space was lovely and green, especially so after the rain. We were mostly alone and only passed a couple of other folks during our few hours there. One of the things that felt weird about living in LA is that you could never be alone; there were always other people. Even on seemingly remote hikes, we always ran into someone or lots of someones. In Gijon, even though it’s a fair sized city (pop. 250,000), we’ve been able to find places that feel like we have them all to ourselves which has been really nice.
After we left the museum we went in search of a tasty snack and I needed coffee! We walked home along the waterfront and stopped in at a little coffee house/churreria. We each had an espresso and ordered churros (our first churros order since being in Spain). The churros came plain but we wanted them with chocolate so ordered up two large cups of thick, delicious hot chocolate (more like warmed pudding, like we used to make on the stove, before snack packs) for dipping. I wasn’t sure if I should drink the chocolate right from the cup because I thought I remembered reading that to do so would be uncouth. I looked around to see what everyone else was doing. I couldn’t really tell, so I dipped the churros. Between heavenly bites of the long, somehow not greasy, donut-like ropes, I spooned the thick chocolate into my mouth. Then I figured the right thing to do was whatever I wanted to do, so took a few sips to finish off the cup. I also happened to do a quick google search that indicated drinking the chocolate was A-ok, which made me feel better. I don’t know why I’m so worried about making a little faux pas. It’s not like the waiter is going to come over and tell me to get the hell out. Anyway, it all worked out and I left with a belly full of chocolate, sugar, coffee, and magic (fun fact; churros are 90% magic). It was a perfect pick me up and warm hug of yum needed after our long day in the rain.
Most businesses are closed on Sunday with the exception of restaurants and bars, so we stopped by a fruteria and small grocery store for a few items to use for the night’s dinner and meals on Sunday. As much as I would love to eat every meal out, experiencing new, tasty delights for each one, shopping and cooking meals at home are another adventure of their own (I’ll share more about what I prepare as I get to know the ingredients at my disposal). Phil made us salads with a little bread and vino tinto which was the perfect ending to a wonderful day exploring unknown parts of Gijon.