The Feve train has been good to us, as we use it often to travel around Asturias. It is one of the two regional train companies, and for 5-7 Euro we can explore almost all of Asturias (as well as appreciate the picturesque countryside to boot). On this early February morning, we decided to take it to the town of Langreo, which is a mining town about an hour south of Gijón. Our last mining town visit was to the town of Mieres, and while we were less than impressed, we still wanted to get out on a brisk, bright, sunny day and explore Langreo.
The municipality of Langreo covers a large land area, so we arrived at the north-most train stop, in the parish of La Felguera, very near the Museo de la Siderurgia (Iron and steel industry) de Asturias. While the museum was closed, the memorable part is the rainbow painted tower it is housed in, which we saw when we exited the train (and also is the image at the top).
We walked a bit through the town, in search of cafe con leche, which we found at a small cafe nearby. We often say we have “time to kill”. Instead, what we really should say and what I am going to start saying moving forward, is “time to enjoy.” We had time to enjoy before the other local museum, the MUMI, opened and enjoy we did. We walked past all the hustle and bustle of the town, which operated at a much more pleasant pace than Mieres. We first arrived at Parque Dolores Fernández Duro. The park is named after the grand-daughter of Pedro Duro, an important industrialist who was instrumental in the mining industry in the area during the mid-late 1800s. There was an impressive bandstand and church, along with the tourist information office, a kids playground, and plenty of benches for people to sit.
We learned more about the town from seven-foot (21 meters) tall posts with information about Langreo and the area, one side in Spanish and the other in English, which we were surprised to see. We also learned more about Pedro Duro, who we knew had a bus stop (and street) in Gijón named after him, which we thought was funny, as Pedro Duro translates to Hard Peter. We also laughed as the original name for the street that ran through the park (before it was park), was called Calle de mierda, or Shit Street. There were no less than three different reasons it was called as such, you can probably assume a couple, and I’ll put all three at the end of the post.
We next walked through an indoor market, which was quite large and had many stalls selling meats, fish, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. Very colorful to see the wide variety, fish of grand sizes like tuna and salmon and tiny anchovies, al with their heads still attached; octopus arms and sliced ham and other cured meats, rabbit, pigs’ feet and head and heart even, and some beautifully bright apples, oranges, strawberries, zucchini and more. Truly a feast for the eyes.
Directly outside the indoor market was a lively outdoor market selling clothes of all kinds, from underwear and socks to dresses and jackets, blankets and bags, even toys of all kinds. Our main goal, though, was looking at the menu boards outside the various restaurants all over town. We were in search of a good and reasonably priced menu del dia, which features a first and second course along with bread, dessert and wine, usually between 10-15 euros. We passed a few that were in the running as we walked toward the other big park in town, Parque de Antonio García Lago.
It was a grand, green, and peaceful park with a lagoon filled with ducks and pigeons on the shore and bridge. We walked across the bridge and found a bench in the sun where we at our peanuts and apple snack while we watched the dog walkers, joggers, and pensioners on the parks’ many paved walkways. Behind us was a outdoor bird sanctuary Some of the most interesting birds I had ever seen, along with some old favorites like parakeets, canaries, roosters and chickens.
We continued our walk through the town, inspecting menu del dia boards, finally choosing La Toscana, which was packed the whole time we were there; indicating it was a good choice for only 11 Euro per person. We dined on cachopo, pasta, and toast with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and sardines; and finished it by sharing a slices of carrot cake and cheesecake, and cafe solos. Properly satiated, we began our journey to the MUMI Museum of Mining and Industry in the nearby down of L’Entregu. First we passed La Tejerona, two smokestacks dating from the 1800s (one is below), part of a brick-making factory.
The walk took us alongside the Rio Nalón, which was peaceful as we listened to the river flow next to use. There were a few bridges we past on our our way, as well as a metal, rusted statue of a lochness-like monster.
As dusk approached, we saw the MUMI in the distance. The entrance to the museum is impressive, as well as the well-kept exhibits and artifacts housed therein. We also were told there was a mine tour at the top of the hour, so we had about forty five minutes to explore the two floor museum, that also had catwalks extending the second floor to see even more. There were exhibits about the history of mining in the area, as well as ones about life in the late 1800s that featured dentists chairs, operating tables, and an especially weird exhibit on human anatomy complete with models of different ailments at the time and how they manifested on the body.
There was a loud overhead announcement that our tour was ready, but it really was not needed, there was only a couple with their young daughter and us in the whole museum (it was the last tour of the day on a Wednesday in February, so not too surprising). There was also a lot of propaganda posters extolling the virtues of mining and gunpowder, often featuring dark haired women, which were intriguing.
The mine tour began, and we descended via an old, loud, coal elevator along with the guide. Jesse was worried as she has a sensitive ear that can be effected by pressure changes, but the guide told us “no te procupes,” which is a common phrase we hear in Spain, and means don’t worry. We exited the elevator, feeling like we had descended many stories, deep into the dark mine, lit overhead by uncovered light-bulbs. Our guide told us all about the history of mining in Asturias, and the lives of the miners, and how long they worked, often in cramped conditions for seven – twelve hours a day. We climbed and ducked down as we followed her through narrow passages and past mining cars, until we reached a small, cracked white train, where we ducked our heads and climbed inside, taking a pitch-black ride down a one-way track, before returning.
We concluded the tour with our guide telling us that we would have to walk back up as the elevator was broken, and we all signed, and she said “poco a poco” (little by little) we would climb the many stairs back to the main floor. To our surprise, it was only one flight of stairs, and we realized the elevator went extremely slow and was extra loud, to give the impression of a much farther trip. We laughed at ourselves for our worry earlier. We exited through the gift shop, picking up copies of a couple of the posters, the guide to the mine in English, and some postcards, for a very reasonable price. It had become night while we were inside, and we made the short trek to the train station and headed back to Gijón.
Langreo was a great visit for a day trip, and only an hour away by train from Gijón. It also possessed the best public graffiti art that we have seen so far in Spain, and I would be remiss to not share the highlights with you; enjoy!