Astorga was the perfect city for a weekend trip, especially when you’re living in Gijón during the winter. The bus journey is only about 2 ½ hours and puts you in a town with just enough things to do to keep you busy but not stress you out with a limited two-day window. The weather is also a nice change from the cold, gloomy (sometimes seeming always present) rain in Gijón during the month of February; it gives you proof that the sun does in fact still exist. The people are just as warm as the (actually still existing!!) sun. I really loved this town and wished I could stay here forever. P.S. I really miss the sun and Andaluz climate.
Palacio de Gaudí
I loved this place. I saw some of the coolest stained glass that I have ever seen (which made me decide I might enroll in stained glass classes again when I get back home.) My favorite pieces were the suns, the flowers and the heart on fire draped with tassels. I also found my favorite busts, ever! I even managed to take some (okay, 22) selfies with them. There was a small garden that allowed you to walk around the back of the Palace so that you could admire Guadi’s design from all angels (and to take more selfies, of course).
Super cool cathedral. Besides being a beautiful cathedral with amazing stained glass and chapels there’s a museum attached to it too! Which was absolutely fantastic for me because I really love to appreciate art, and by appreciate art I mean I like to take pictures and add what I think are funny quips to the picture and post them on my Instagram stories so hopefully my friends think that I’m clever/funny, and I was able to “admire” many precious works of art. (Actually, not being sarcastic when I say this, there were paintings that were absolutely stunning and some of which had really interesting textures to them – I only resisted the urge to touch the paintings after thinking “I would not do well in a foreign prison.”)
If I ever come to a point in my life where I will be given an epic “Last Meal on Earth” scenario I want what I ate at this restaurant. I ordered Goat Cheese Croquettes and Roasted Duck with Raspberry Sause. Croquettes are always amazing but put an artesian spin on them and something you didn’t think could get any better, does; it’s absolutely amazing.
And although I’ve been mostly vegetarian since coming back to Spain in January it is almost near impossible to find meatless dishes in restaurants in Spain (in my opinion). For example, the night before I ordered the Menu of the Day and ordered what I thought were two vegetarian options; 1) Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and 2) a Mixed Salad. The Roasted Broccoli came with what I would like to call a “ham flower” in the middle of it and the Mixed Salad was topped with Tuna (I later found out that a Mixed Salad typically has tuna on it- always learning something new).
Which is how I came to order The Duck. I decided that if I was going to eat meat I would try something interesting/that I have never tried before; no chicken will have died for me to eat something lame like chicken fingers. And honestly The Duck changed my life. I even FaceTimed my mom so I could tell her how “the top layer of The Duck was perfectly cooked to a little bit of a crisp that led to a ‘just-eaten-a-fire-roasted-marshmallow-crunch-with-a-slight-carmelization-sensation’ that paired well with the accompanying raspberry sauce” as if I had awoken my inner food critic. Also I feel like I should mention that my mom must really love me unconditionally for her not to have hung up on me while talking like this.
Admired the Murals of Local
TL;DR – By chance I stumbled across a mural, meet a local woman who saw me taking pictures of said mural and ended up giving me a mini tour of Astorga and introduced me to a typical meat from León called Cecina.
Funny, slightly long blurb about how I stumbled upon this artist’s murals. I had already seen two of them the previous night when I was on the search for somewhere to eat dinner. Anyway, the next day I decided to make my way to the city center using a different route (the best thing about Astorga’s size – after a few hours you kinda have a sense of direction of where you are) when I found “Plaza de la Semana Santa.” Since I’ve already spent two Semana Santa’s in Spain I knew that the hooded outfits painted on this wall were of those worn in Spain during Holy Week and I wanted to take a few pictures of the beautiful plaza. While I was taking pictures a woman came up to me and told me about the artist and how he had a few murals throughout the city. She knew I was foreign (my Spanish is still awful but I’m working on it ‘un dia la vez’) and asked me if I wanted her to show me the other paintings.
So when in Astorga you follow Patricia around the city while she’s walking her tiny dog and look at murals. Then you say, “Jamón!” when you see the mural of the old man to only find out that that’s actually not jamón but a typical cured COW meat from the area. So then Patricia takes you to a carnicería (a meat shop) and tells you which meat to buy and even gets the butcher to give you a sample as well. And then you follow Patricia to “the best” bakery in town to get some pan (bread) that goes perfectly with (the meat). Finally, Patricia drops you off to the Palacio and makes sure that you don’t have any problems buying your ticket.
The Chocolate Museum
Like most people’s review on TripAdvisor you only really need 45 minutes to an hour to visit this museum in its entirety, especially if your Spanish isn’t the greatest. All of the information and explanations are written in Spanish throughout this SPANISH museum – shocking, I know! But luckily once you pay your entrance fee you are given a pamphlet in English with information about each of the rooms – so at least you’re not completely lost. There is an interesting short film in one of the rooms (about 10-15 minutes accompanied with English subtitles) that shows the process of chocolate making both in the past and present day. While the process of chocolate making is actually super cool I found the chocolate memorabilia to be the more interesting. I was obsessed with the Chocolate Cigarettes and desperately hoped there would be some to buy in the museum’s store and was slightly disappointed when they weren’t.
The Parade (Carnival)
I just happened to go to Astorga during Carnaval and it was so COOL. When I was walking to my Airbnb the streets were filled with people in costumes which I deduced that 1) everyone in Astorga was crazy or 2) this was Carnaval weekend. Turns out the second assumption was the right one and next day I watched the parade. Here’s a video of a few of my favorite parts of the parade!
PS Are we even in Spain if we don’t hear Despacito at least once a day?
PPS Sorry for the low video quality! I took these videos on my phone!
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