Gijón, part I.

So. My weekend in Gijón.

Disregarding the nearly 6-hour bus ride to and from, my weekend up in the North of Spain was fun, refreshing, and really just what I needed–some time out of Madrid and into fresh air and sunlight. Talia and I set out from Estación Sur in Madrid at 9 a.m. on Friday morning. At about 3:20 we rolled up to the station in Gijón, where Mark and Andrew were waiting for us, ecstatically performing what we would later learn was the ¨wipe the butt¨dance, complete with toilet paper collecting, rolling, and wiping. We just thought it looked hilarious–and so did the lady beside us. And the three buses for which they´d been performing before we arrived. Heehee.

Shortly after boarding the bus that would bear us to the piso where we were fortunate enough to stay for free, our conversation was politely interrupted by a very pretty woman wearing a golden nametag. She said, ¨Excuse me, but I couldn´t help hearing you–it´s been so long since I´ve heard English being spoken–where are you from?¨The nametag and the overpoliteness should have given it right away, and for Talia it did. It took me a little longer. She was a proselytizing Mormon out in Gijón, of all places! We had a relatively nice, sedate, and mysterious discussion with her before we disembarked and dropped off our bags at the piso.

 In short order, Mark and Andrew bore Ms. Stol and me over to a sidrería down the street which shall remain nameless, as I don´t think I even bothered to read the sign. Now–before I go on–for those of you who don´t speak Spanish, ¨sidrería¨roughly translates to ¨cidery.¨Yes. A place where cider is served. Strange? Well, perhaps, but not in Asturias, where sidra is the speciality! Sidra serving and sidra drinking is not merely serving, nor is it merely drinking. There is an art to it–or at least a very strange custom abou which I´m going to tell you and, rest assured, some of it is based on my inferences.

Step 1: Order una botella de sidra.

Step 2: The bartender brings a few incredibly, mind-bendingly thin glasses the size of your hand, out of which you will, presumably, guzzle the sidra.

Step 3: The bartender approaches the table, bottle in hand, uncorks, grabs a glass, and proceeds to lift the bottle up over his head while holding aforementioned glass at roughly pelvis-height, then pour the sidra in a long, splashy stream from above. About 60% of the sidra makes it into the glass, dependent upon your sidrero´s skill level. It looks something like this:

Sidrero

Did I mention that for the sidrero, looking directy at the alcohol he´s pour is strictly verboten? Instead, he stares off at a space on the floor somewhere–I imagine that it is to prevent the lecherous masculine gaze from tainting the tender flavor of the sidra whilst it is being aerated from such a height. Yes. Odd.

Step 4: Drink roughly 1-5 inches of sidra–rapidly! Bartender will now leave you with corked bottle and empty glass.

Step 5: Move to pour your second round of sidra in a decidedly less showy fashion than that which has been previously described.

Step 6: be chided by the barkeep and all in attendance for your bad manners–only the sidrero can pour.

Step 7: Wait.

Step 8: Wait.

Step 9: Wait.

Step 10: Wait

Step 11: Praise dios when your bartender finally hoves back to repeat the show. It´s all good fun, really! Though sidra, I think, isn´t worth allt hat fuss. It´s tasty, but a little bit like smelly cheese, gym socks and apples all blended into one liquid.

So that was our trip to the sidrería. We then went grocery shopping, where we bought a bottle of gin and tonic water, chocolate raisins, ice cream bars, and cereal. Post night-walk on the beach (across the street from our piso!) we consumed all of said groceries save the cereal and yogurt for the next morning. I played my first real game of charades, and then proceeded to sleep a glorious, GLORIOUS eleven hours.

Okay. The cool part of my trip (with pictures!) is to follow!

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