22 May 2010 (My birthday) – On to Gijon

Today, we got a late start, but that’s OK because today is my 75th birthday.  I don’t feel like I’m 75.  Either that, or 75 feels a lot better than I expected it to. 

Before we left, there we heard a series of really loud explosions going off nearby for about 20 minutes.  It turns out it was a festival for Santa Rita, the patron saint of a neighboring village, Vilagarcia de Arousa.  I tried to find out what “arousa” had to do with the village, hoping but not expecting to hear something interesting.  All I could find out was that it’s the name of the estuary on which the village sits. 

Starting up, the car lost power a second time, but this time the mystery was solved.  Somehow it gets into the speed limit mode at 10 or 20 kph, which is not that good.  Simply raising the limit by flipping a control lever a few times fixes the problem. 

We now know how to deal with Miss Nüvi.  She loves the side roads, so she’s terrific at getting us in and out of town, and finding specific destination locations.  However, once we are on a main road, she insists that we take exits to get off the main road.  So on main roads we turn her off and follow the signs.  Also, if we don’t give her a destination, she’s really good at telling us what road we are on. 

Not a bull crossing 😦

I finally got a good look at the bull crossing signs we have been seeing all over Spain, and we were disappointed to learn that it was cow crossing sign.  Not the same at all. 

We were getting hungry, and so we pulled into a town called Lugo for a rest stop.  Surprisingly, on Saturday afternoon, we could not find an open restaurant, until someone told us about one two blocks down the street and around the corner.  It was Pulperia A Lareira, C./Mallorca 1-3-5.  Their specialty was octopus which we ordered and were pleasantly surprised.  In the bar area there’s a barrel of hot water.  To prepare the dish our waitress pulls an octopus out of the barrel, and with shears, snips off tentacle slices into a wooden dish.  It’s served with boiled, sliced potatoes.  I thought the potatoes were a separate menu item, and didn’t order them, but the owner gave them to me anyway.  It turned that pulpa is much better with potatoes.   It was delicious, and not rubbery at all.  I ordered café solo, which is Spanish demitasse, no milk, and the owner insisted I drink it with a locally made item called Aquacalliente, or hot water. 

Preparing pulpa (octopus)

It’s distilled from the leftovers from winemaking, and is really strong.  Actually it seemed to mellow my coffee.  He spoke English rather well, and I learned that spent nine years in England to avoid military duty under Franco.  He said it was legal to do that. 

We arrived in Gijon, which is pronounced  ghhi-ghhon, and is spelled Xixon in the Basque language.  I also learned to quit saying “Jugo de Naraca” from the Italian, and say, “Thumo de Naranca”, spelled Zumo.  We arrived in Gijon, and after being told by our lady friend the navigator, that we had arrived, we still no idea where the hotel actually was.  It turned out we had to drive across a courtyard, and into an alley with all the parking spaces full.  We were given a handicapped spot to park in for the night.

Isabella The Catholic Park

Behind the hotel was Isabella the Catholic Park, where we walked before dinner. It was a wonderful place, with a large lake filled with birds of every sort, and an aviary.  For dinner we had “The Menu” again, and as usual, is was mostly delicious, and when it wasn’t delicious, it was “interesting”.  At this Parador, you can have dessert or coffee, but having both is extra. That seems really strange. 

At dinner, my 75th birthday dinner, Teresa asked me for my philosophy of life, and I was about to say that it was too big a question to answer over a meal, when the answer came to me:  “It’s all good.” It works for me.

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