Europe’s Top Cities #30

Oviedo was never on the route and a place I never had any desire to visit but because of a tragic gearbox disaster just one day into my Iberian peninsula road trip I was forced to limp my van from the coast and into what was the fourth mechanics of the day. Oviedo itself isn’t all that bad what with its bustling, colourful old town and good local food but the reason it finds itself at the bottom of this alternative list is because it will always be associated with the least successful travel experience anyone could hope for. For the thirty-two days in which I was on the continent, Fanny, my reliably unreliable van, spent thirty of them in a small mechanics in this place. What should have been a quick turnaround escalated into a series of let downs and disappointments, being promised imminent freedom from the start to only be frustrated by delays in the arrival of parts or further damage to the mechanical workings of my Fanny. Once, we briefly made it back on the road for all of nineteen miles only for the van to come spluttering to a stop before requiring recovery back to the Oviedo mechanics. Some nights we spent all day mindlessly sulking in the office of the workshop, eating dinner and watching films whilst wallowing in self-pity and for a few nights we even slept in the van in the mechanics. The handful of attractions served their purpose for the first day and the cider cheered us up for a few evenings but the repetitive walk up the high street, across the train station and up the hill of ever-growing misery became associated with heart breaking dejection and endless irritation. As good as the cider was, the traditional method of pouring it (the waiter holds the bottle as high as he can in one hand and the glass down low with the other) meant that half your drink splutters onto the floor. I once tried to pour my own so I could get a full bottle worth and was scolded by the insulted waiter. In different circumstances I’m sure this place would find itself higher up the list but for me it conjures up memories of the lowest sort I’ve felt on the road, and it’s my bloody list so down here it will stay.

The Old Town

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