Mieres is a former bustling mining town south of Gijón and Oviedo, which Jesse and I decided to visit after we met some nice people from there on our tour to Cuevas de Soplao, which Jesse wrote about here. An hour train ride through the beautiful green hillsides and valleys, snow capped mountains, though scattered throughout were old, rusted and long since used factories and a couple still in production, spewing white smoke into the atmosphere. Asturias was, for around 100 years, a bustling and profitable area for mining of coal and other minerals. Once the EU decided to ban coal, however, many of the mines closed, and workers left for more opportunity, and many towns and cities became less inhabited. Mieres is one of these cities.
When we arrived we crossed the large river Caudal while the sun shone brightly overhead. Our first stop was a nearby cafe, where we sipped cafe con leche and ate very tasty slices of Spanish tortilla. We proceeded to walk through the Mieres streets, as we passed people sitting outside in cafes, as this is December it is much colder when in the shade than under the warm sun’s rays, so cafe seats outside under the sun were at a premium. We walked into the sun on the long pedestrian street, Calle la Vega, passing many of the cities’ residents sharing tapas and drinks with family and friends. Mieres had a vibe of a place that was once much more lively and new, however now many shops and cafes were boarded up, but the residents seemed to hardly notice as they went about their days. We did spot a cool statue and some good graffiti art throughout the town.
Afterward we stopped into the largest church in town, and then we made our way to the main square, which was the Sidra square, replete with no less than six different Siderias, with most tables full of Sidra drinkers, many had a bottle or two on their table. We decided to join, and enjoyed two bottles, afterward taking our pictures with the larger than life statue of a Sidra pouring cammerero.
Our last stop on the day was at a bar we had passed earlier named Seattle Garden, which was a grunge rock-n-roll themed bar, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam records on the wall and for some reason, America’s funniest home videos playing on the two large TVs. They also had Budweiser on tap, as well as American beers from Founder brewery, Negra Modelo, and even Smirnoff Ice. It did not appear that any were big sellers with the locals, but it was nice to get a little taste of home. It is always interesting being in American themed bars and cafes in Spain, as there is always something slightly off about them, that is lost in the translation. They are about 90% accurate, but if you visited these places in the United States you would know something was slightly off.
Our final stop took us past a residence with three large characters of Los Tres Reyes Magos, or the three wise men, who, in Spain, are the ones who bring the gifts to the children (as opposed to Santa in the US). The three can be found all over Spain, and my favorites are the ones that hang from the window on a ladder, climbing in to deliver the presents. What we saw on the this building was a bit more creepy, and I recommend clicking on the picture and zooming in.
We stopped for a beer and some pollo col ajola, which are garlic chicken wings, at a cafe/bar near the train station. We watched the local news play on the TV and a friendly older gentleman told us about what the news was saying about Mieres and the backstory of a 30-year-long project that related to the local, closed, mine. We bid the bar patrons “hasta luego,” and headed for the train to take us back north to Gijón. Another Asturian adventure done, this one albeit a little less exciting than others, but still a fun day to spend in an old mining town, in Spain.
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