This past week, I discovered perhaps my favorite thing about Oviedo—its surrounding nature and outdoor opportunities. Living in Oviedo, we are situated in the extremely mountainous principality of Asturias. I had heard rumors that the hiking around these parts was phenomenal, but it took experiencing a day trip for myself to realize how amazing it really is.
Over the weekend, a group of 6 of us from Temple decided to seek out a trail called “La Ruta de Las Xanas,” or “the route of the fairies.” My host mom had been encouraging me to explore Oviedo’s surrounding nature for weeks, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally jump on this opportunity. Before going on the hike, she made sure to give me all the background information and history of the area. I was pretty excited to see it for myself, because she made it sound pretty magical. There is a lot of folklore in Oviedo’s culture, and according to legend, these mountains are home to “las xanas,” or the fairies.
Getting to the hike couldn’t have been easier—a local bus passes right by the head of the trail, and all we had to do was alert the bus driver to where we were going. I found this pretty cool, since I don’t know of any buses where I’m from back home that take you straight to a hiking trail! The ride was only about 40 minutes, although I have to warn anyone who’s thinking of taking this trip in the future to take some motion sickness medication first… the route twisted and turned quite a bit, and let me just say we were all ready for some fresh air when we reached the stop!
We couldn’t have had more perfect hiking weather. It was nearly 70 degrees, the sun was shining, and there was a slight breeze. After only about 5 minutes of hiking we reached the main trail, and we were all pretty awestruck. Before coming that day, a friend from school had given me these words of advice: “Just don’t fall off!” He of course was only joking, but when I realized we would be hiking next to a cavernous ravine, I stayed as far from the edge as possible…
We hiked along this winding trail between two mountains for about 45 minutes before making it to a path in the woods. My favorite thing about the hike was how drastically the landscape changed as we went. In the beginning there were cliffs, in the middle a shady grove, and at the end, a mountaintop meadow like something out of “The Sound of Music.”
We all agreed that it was a pretty perfect day, and felt quite accomplished when making it to the tiny village at the top of the mountain. We were greeted by an enormous flock of free-roaming sheep with tinkling cowbells, 3 extremely fluffy and friendly dogs, and a crazy view of where we had just come from. On our hike back to the bus stop, we even saw some mountain goats…
As someone who has always felt at home in nature, I was thrilled to discover how exceptional the hiking is around Oviedo. As the weather gets warmer, I have plans to do many more day trips like this, and to experience as much of the countryside here as I can!
Til next week!