Hola, Bonjour, Hello again !
I am back today for another article coming from my recent trip to Northern Spain, this time with a subject that really came to me whilst I was visiting there: living in tradition or living in modernity… which one would lead more surely to happiness?
Living in London, tradition is not something I really have to worry about or experience on a daily basis. Yes, there might be families who sit down for their traditional Sunday roast every week but there are also a lot people starting new habits, new ways and embracing modernity to its maximum. This is probably partly due to the fact that most of the London population isn’t actually from London, which makes tradition a little bit obsolete in a city that is evolving as much as the citizens who decide to start their lives there. Hello Uber, Deliveroo, tall glass towers, sushi bars, champagne on taps, contactless credit cards, apps to count your steps, apps to count how many glass of water you drank, driverless trams and constant checking of the weather app.
Asturias on the contrary, is very proud of their tradition and this is something that stroke me on both trips there.
People there are proud of their heritage whether it is in the food, the traditional clothing, the songs or the music. I learnt that in Spain most towns would have markets or fiestas celebrating the tradition of that area and every year, all over Spain, people gather to eat, drink and dance, even in the smallest village. We were lucky enough to experience one of those market or “mercau” in Asturian on this trip in Porrua near Llanes and if you come to Spain during the summer time you must try and go to one of those festivals. People dress up in traditional costumes that are typical to each towns, some outfits are passed down from generation to generation or rented, all handmade and costing in the thousands to buy. Then there is music and singing, and if you would ever believe it the traditional instrument of the area is the bagpipe, which transported me straight to Scotland… with a hint of chorizo. There are people dressed up in fairy tales characters, fables telling, games for the kids and generally speaking it is a very colourful and smelly affair (lots of farm animals walk right by you as well as of course…a lot of food cooking). Of course, a trip to the traditional market meant sampling traditional everything, especially the local cheeses. Lots of mountains and green means lots of cows and goats which can only equal to one thing: Asturias is Spanish cheese heaven. I managed to control myself and only bring 5 back but trust me it was hard and took a lot of arguing back and forth with myself. Personal favourite is the ahumado queso which is the smoked cheese but literally just whatever was on offer there on a toothpick I sampled because why not. I got a feeling that by the end of the morning the bagpipe was making music about ‘the tourist who ate all the cheese in Asturias” (me). I am sure it will be a hit at next year’s market.
After exploring the market, on the same day we decided to head to Ribadesella, a little coastal town on the way back to Oviedo that we visited already the first time I went to Asturias. One minute we were watching people shredding apples to make cider by hand, the next we were strolling in a town that felt like the French Riviera.
Now I must be truly honest, I fell a little bit in love with Ribadesella.
Far from the traditional costumes and dancing, Ribadesella is quite modern. There are lots of mini yachts and hip coffee shops which play really cool spotify playlists, surf schools and an all round trendy vibe, especially in summer. On that weekend there was a little festival by the pier, featuring lots of independent shops, food trucks and indie music called Fartukarte. We were miles off the tradition there, think more Latitude Festival or Camden Town market. Yet it felt right too, the sun shining bright and this indie band covering “Hallelujah” while we had one more gelato (ok maybe two). What can I say, I am a sucker for pistachio ice cream.
When I came to Ribadesella for the first time back in March, it was grey and cold and yet already, something inside me woke up like a little tug from my heart telling me hey, this place isn’t like the others. I can’t quite explain it, but there are places where you go to and suddenly you feel at home. The ocean, the beach, the sun, the little streets, the long walks, the nature, those are all part of my childhood growing up in Reunion Island and are all part of Ribadesella’s charm. Yet I couldn’t help but think of my life in London, which is very much at the opposite of that. Don’t get me wrong, city life has some great points too. The vibrant constant buzz, something new to see or do every weekend, the museums and the culture, the restaurants, the shopping, the language, the friends, the abundance of jobs…
And this what led me to start wondering what I wanted going forward. Do I want to stay in a very busy modern city life or do I want something a bit more peaceful and relaxing, a life closer to nature? I feel like a product of tradition and modernity myself. Between city life and sunsets on the beach, I think it’s important to remember where you come from, but also to identify what makes you truly happy. So I am now on that quest for true happiness, this trip to Spain jolted me when I needed it, and I now know that I need some changes…. And whilst I do this soul searching, I hope you all have a great end of the week.
Till next time,