I lived in Spain six years ago. Back then, I lived in Oviedo. I went to Oviedo for the first part of my ERASMUS year, and I was a little unprepared.
Back then, I expected Spain to be hot all year round, as people often tell you it is. I took a few winter clothes, but not many, and I ignored everything people told me about the weather in Oviedo.
It turns out, I was wrong to do this. Oviedo, being in the north of Spain, in Asuturias, is cold. Definitely a lot colder than somewhere like Sevilla, which is in the south. Besides this, it rains every day. Especially in the autumn and winter months. I didn’t believe people when I was told that before I arrived. It meant I had to buy winter boots to keep my feet dry when I was there.
Barcelona, however, is different. I have again come unprepared for the weather. Because of my previous experiences of Spain, I figured winter clothes would be a good option for packing. Only hours before my flight left did I remember to pack shorts. I’ve been cold just once here, and I’ve been here for three weeks now. So I packed wrong. Again. Packing does not get any easier the more you do it, but at least I packed more than three tops (when I packed for South America, I culled a lot of clothes I ‘didn’t need’ and only when I arrived I my hotel I realised that I’d culled most of my tops). I am told though that the constant heat Barcelona is experiencing at the moment is usual for this time of year, that they had a bad summer, and that it’s all probably to do with climate change. Who knows, it may change, but I don’t think it will be for long.
Besides from the weather, Barcelona is very different to Oviedo in other ways. In Oviedo, they have an abundance of water and so clean the streets every night (hose them down, sweep them etc). In Barcelona, they only do that once or twice a week. Not that it affects my daily life here, it’s just a notable difference.
Oviedo is small. Barcelona is massive. It was easy to go out at night in Oviedo, home was only a short walk away if I felt too tired to stay up until dawn. And because it’s a small city, it’s safer too. Barcelona has a lot of intricate metro lines. I live close to the city centre, just a short metro ride away. Unless it’s a Saturday night, the metros don’t run all night, which means either cutting your night out short, making it as long as possible by waiting for the first metro home in the morning, or spending extra cash getting a taxi. I have been told though that a taxi would be a safer option than the metro at 4am anyway.
Price-wise, Oviedo and Barcelona are pretty much on par, despite the six-year gap. Drinks in certain parts of Barcelona are almost as cheap as I found the drinks to be in Oviedo. I did read somewhere that Barcelona was the third most expensive city in Europe (behind London and Paris), but I think that’s only in the main tourist hotspots. I paid just 1Euro for a (small) glass of wine the other day. Renting properties is a little bit more expensive here than it was in Barcelona, but if you inflation into account too it’s probably almost the same.
Los picos de Europa (mountains) surround Oviedo, and similarly, mountains also surround Barcelona. That’s because Spain is such a diverse country. Sea, mountians, city etc all in one small region.
Los picos de Europa
Both cities are very pretty but in very different ways. I saw a lot of traditional little houses in the mountains in Oviedo, but Barcelona has very pretty buildings, thanks to Gaudí.
So during my time here, I have decided I will pay Oviedo another visit, at some point, so I can see if anything has changed at all!