Thursday, May 14, 2015

Avilés, Gijón (Xixón), New Family and Friends

Tuesday, 12 May, 2015:


After a good night's rest after our sumptuous dining experience in Diego's home, we were off at a decent hour leaving Galicia behind as we headed to our ancestral home province of Asturias.

Asturias is located on the North coast of Spain, along the Cantabrian Sea coast.

Lots of rain in Galicia and Asturias
means lots of green landscapes

Sometimes it also means
driving in dense morning fog

If you like the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington, then you will love Galicia and Asturias.

Our North Coast Highway


First stop today was Avilés

A "La Crisis" store?

Dealing with my server to get my
iPhone's internet back up

It was a frustrating ten minutes dealing with their representative but we finally got it working again. Without it we would not have GPS capabilities and would simply have to commit hari kari rather than attempt to go on with the Circumnavigation.


Still love Heraldry

Bought a few Asturias
related trinkets here

Avilés Tourist Information Center

They were friendly and helpful as usual in aiding us in our exploration.

Sidra bootle lamp at the
Tierra Astur restaurant in Avilés

They serve sidra here

LOTS of sidra.

Aerating the sidra is a show in itself

Now you may ask, why go to Avilés which is a bit off of the typical tourist's itinerary?

Simple answer really . . .

My cousin Geli Ruiz lives in Avilés

Our two grandmother's were sisters growing up in the tiny Asturian village of Alles.

Geli and I have been Facebook friends for some time now but we had never met until today.

Talk about a GREAT day for me!

Asturian cheese plate, sidra
and family . . .

It just doesn't get better than this!

The Three Amigos

It turns out that we LOVE sidra!

I can not begin to express how much finally meeting Geli meant to me. She is a wonderful and fun person to be around.

I have always had a deep respect for Jorge Contreras who was my Father. Geli's lovely stories of the many kind things that he did for her family and the people of Alles on his trips to Spain just made me respect and love him even more.

I miss him terribly.

After a strong goodbye hug and a tear in our eyes, we were off again but only after promising to return for a visit soon.

The final Circumnavigation stop for the day was . . .

Also known as Xixón

Daniel Castañon

The main reason for the overnight stay in Gigón was the chance to finally meet another long time Facebook friend, Daniel.  He is the founder of the Gijón's American football team, the Mariners.

He first got introduced to the game when he picked up an NBA centered magazine that had a lone article in the back pages that caught his eye about American football.

Soon after that he saw an NFL game on TV and he was hooked.

Somewhere he bought a football and found a friend to play catch with at one of Gijón's beaches. Within a few days he found another half dozen locals that joined his beach football scene and soon after, the Mariners were a reality.

Daniel took us on a thorough walking tour of his beautiful city.

The beach in front of our hotel

Octavius Augustus

The Romans were big in Spain back in the day.

If you recall, Russell Crowe's character in the blockbuster movie The Gladiator was a Spaniard.

Spanish Civil War shore battery

The Republicans had to defend Gijón's key harbor.
 A new monument at the battery

Locals hanging out

Thus the nickname Mariners


Gijóns quaint leisure craft harbor

Monument to Sidra

King Pelayo I

His victory over the Moors in nearby Covadonga was the start of Spain's Reconquista Period.

Boat Buildings near the beach

 Nice evening for a sail

Official looking building

Don't you just hate it when
cows join the thug life?

 Laurie waiting

The three of us would soon be joined by Mariners' Head Coach Jesús Sanchez and DE Enrique Prado for dinner at the El Veleru Sidreria Restaurante, Calle Rosario, 2, in the heart of Gijón's historic old town.

The food and drink at El Veleru were fantastic!

But the camaraderie shared at this table for about two and a half hours by five American football junkies was even better.

The stories just kept coming out and we all had a really good time sharing our thoughts about the game.

What I came away with from our time with the Mariners today was simple. This is a team with a well organized plan and vision for the future of the club.

The Mariners have had a solid franchise for many years now and that is not an accident. Under Daniel and Jesús' leadership strategies and with player buy-in, like Enrique's, look out España!

2015 LNFA Serie C Playoffs

The Bisons and Sharks won their respective one-and-done Wild Card playoff games.

Their upcoming Semi-Final Serie C
games were discussed at length

Yes, I said Semi-Final games.

The Spanish Federation, in all of their usual wisdom, have decided that it would by more fair if instead of the normal one game playoff, the Serie C Semi-Finals be a home and home affair a la soccer's Champion's League, which is currently playing its Semi-Finals in this fashion.

OK, I'll buy into the fairness concept but why then were the two Serie C Wild Card games both one and done affairs?

Why then will the Serie C Championship in two weeks be decided by a single game?

Why are the Serie B playoff games all one and done games.

The inmates continue to run the asylum.

Daniel, me, Jesús and Enrique

Of course, Laurie took the picture. This photo will always be a great reminder of a fun evening in Gijón with wonderful new friends.

Goodness, how I love the coaches, players and even the referees of EuroBall.

Well, maybe not the referee from St-Cergues in France so much. The various National Federations also at times leave you scratching your head.

Next Circumnavigation Tour Stop: San Sebastian

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