So, in Spain the biggest festival is Carnaval (and believe me, there are a ton of Spanish festivals). It originated as one last (drunken) hurrah before 40 days of Lent, but these days it’s mostly an excuse to get dressed up and throw giant parties. As I had a couple days off from work (surprise, surprise), I hopped over to Asturias to explore the festivities. Because I am perpetually broke, I managed to convince one of my coworkers to give me a ride to Gijón. In exchange for one free trip to Asturias, I got to sit next to a chatty 9-year-old for 4 1/2 hours…
I stayed in Gijon, which is a lovely beach town and only a short bus ride from Avilés, where all the festivities were scheduled to take place. The first night consisted of my meeting the amazing Amanda, who loaned me a place on her couch for the weekend. We then proceeded to eat yummy Indian food (homemade of all things!) and drink too much wine–perfect way to gear up for Carnival!
On Saturday, Amanda and I wandered Gijon and drank a bunch of sidra. Yeah, more sidra for me! (For other tales of Jeannette + sidra, click here). In the midst of wondering what the heck “oricios” were, we managed to put away a total of 3 bottles. Now, the wonderful thing about sidra is that you can sit at the bar, downing drink after drink and not feel a thing. It’s tasty and refreshing, with a slightly bitter aftertaste that definitely grows on you. However, the moment you stand up…WHAM! You start wondering, why is the floor shifting underneath my feet? This was my reality about 5 pm, before getting dressed for Carnival, before buying a bottle of cheap Mandarin-flavored vodka, before any kind of partying had started. Great start to the night, right?
After getting dressed, we piled on a bus to Avilés (keep this in mind for later). We arrived in Avilés in time for the Carnaval parade, which was a basically a series of hippie-themed floats being pulled through knee-deep foam.
Also, every float had marijuana incorporated into the design somehow, even the one of Scooby Doo.
So we danced in the foam, drank lots of beers (and vodka conveniently hidden in my large purse). At some point, I met two girls I knew from back when in Oviedo, a couple of really drunk Oregonians who were delighted to meet a fellow Duck, as well as Forrest Gump and Hugh Hefner. We headed home at some point, about when the drunk people around us were cussing out the bartender and one of them had decided that the table was a good place to take a nap.
Upon heading to the bus station, I discovered a slight problem with the Austurian transportation system. Namely, there were about 150 people waiting for the next bus to Gijón. The bus holds maybe 1/3 of that. Cue the insanity, pushing and shoving, getting my feet stomped on repeatedly. However, I apparently decided that I was in no mood to wait another half hour, or another, for the next bus. So, I hooked arms with Amanda and started inching forward. After pushing against the concrete-like wall of people, I managed to hook an arm around the very edge of the bus door and haul us into the bus, throwing some Euros at the very harassed driver. I also lost my bandana in the clusterf**k.