Primitivo Day 2 – Grado to Salas 25km

The walk on day 2 was similar to the first day , plenty of ascent and decent and some shady sections of hillside forest walking . The temperatures in the afternoon have hit 30 degrees and this has made the walking tough.

I reached the small town named Salas around 4.30pm and booked into the municipal albergue. I was allocated a bunk bed in a room catering for eight people and all my room-mates turned out to be French. I wandered across the road to a bar where I rehydrated on a couple of bottles of Asturian cider whilst watching the Sporting Gijon v Barcelona game. The bar was full of Oviedo fans , like myself , and given my new found hostility to Gijon I was delighted to see them spanked 5-0 , as was everyone else in the bar.

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Primitivo Day 1 – Oviedo to Grado 25km

For the 2 nights I spent in Oviedo I chose to stay in the Hotel Vetusta rather than the Pilgrim albergue which allowed me to stay out late and enjoy the atmosphere of The Fiesta de San Mateo as well as taking in the Real Oviedo game ( the albergues have a 10pm curfew ) . The Fiesta takes place in Oviedo every September for 2 weeks and the 21st ( the feast of San Mateo ) is a holiday in the city. It was lively to say the least with plenty of dancing in the streets . I particularly enjoyed Spanish Country rocker Paula Rojo and her band . I’ve developed a bit of a yen for modern country music in recent years , a cause of much mickey taking from some quarters. I blame Whispering Bob .

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Real Oviedo FC

I came to the Asturias with the intention of making not one but two pilgrimages , one to Santiago de Compostela and the other to Real Oviedo FC . Why did Real Oviedo become my Spanish team ? It is all down to Sid Lowe , football correspondent for The Guardian . The club was in dire financial straights in the last decade or so and very near to extinction until a social media campaign led by Sid , the supporters club and high profile ex- Real Oviedo players Juan Mata , Santi Cazorla and Michu . A decision was made to raise capital by selling shares in the club for a sum of €10.75 each and the campaign went viral across the world during the window periods for buying shares in 2012 and 2015. Sid was very much to the fore in promoting this and his passion to keep alive a club with so much history persuaded myself , my son and many others to buy shares. In fact the club was inundated with applications for shares from people all around the world and was able to raise millions of euros thereby saving it from liquidation at the 11th hour. The whole story is told here. Since the share issue the fortunes of the club have turned around and they were promoted from the Spanish 3rd tier to the second division the season before last . Promotion to La Liga is the Holy Grail and would help greatly to pay off the remaining debt.

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First impressions of Oviedo are that it is a real gem of a small city. There are lots of elegant 19th century buildings and a sprinkling of historic old structures , not least the beautiful Cathedral of San Salvador . There is a definite ” old money ” feel about the place , much like my favourite Spanish city San Sebastian. It is extremely clean ( it’s renowned for this apparently ) and very pedestrian friendly. I had a wander around this morning and noticed the abundance of statues. Someone in authority definitely has a statue fetish as there seemed to be one around every corner and there were lots in the park , including one of an Argentinian cartoon character that was perched on a bench. Just opposite the main park I stumbled across a statue of Woody Allen and my wackiness barometer was going off the scale. I had a look in the guide book and it seems he has had a bit of a love affair with the city having used it as one of the locations for his film Vicky Cristina Barcelona. He is quoted as saying that Oviedo is “a delicious, exotic, beautiful, clean, lovely, tranquil and pedestrianised city. It’s like it doesn’t belong to this world , as if it did not exist.Oviedo is like a fairytale”. No wonder they built him a statue !

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Camino Primitivo

Well I arrived in Oviedo yesterday evening for the latest chapter in my Camino addiction , a serious affliction that I have passed on to others since I walked the Camino Frances in 2012. I returned in 2014 and spent an idyllic week walking the first section of the Frances with our youngest daughter Sally but did not update the blog then for fear of repetition. As this is a new route for me and is walked by relatively few Pilgrims in comparison to the Frances I have brought the mini iPad and will write a few pages as I go along . By all accounts it is a hard route through the Cantabrian mountains with a great deal of climbing and descending so I will light a candle for my knee joints when I visit the Cathedral in Oviedo later this afternoon.

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Reflections on The Camino

Apologies  for taking a while to get around to writing some reflection on The Camino but my feet haven’t touched the floor since my return from Santiago nearly 4 weeks ago.

I have certainly missed the daily routine of the Camino and it has take me a while to adjust back to my normal life , a great deal of which is spent sitting in front of a computer screen. For me the Camino experience was a joy and I returned from Spain as fit in body and mind as I ever have been. I cannot tell you how much of pleasure it was to know that all I had to do for 5 weeks was to get up every day , go for a walk and only have think about where you might eat and sleep during the course of each day

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