A Weekend in Gijón

If you’re ever in Gijón, Asturias (Xixón in Asturian), in the north of Spain, there are two things you should check out.

Number One: you have to eat a cachopo. If you’re a vegetarian, skip that first recommendation and jump straight to…

Number Two: the Museo del Pueblo de Asturias. This is an ethnographic museum spread out among a dozen buildings in a beautiful park. One building houses the Museo Internacional de la Gaita, the International Bagpipe Museum. I don’t know squat about bagpipes, but the collection of instruments is fascinating. While strolling through the exhibition Lola said, “People were more creative before television was invented.”

gaita-asturiana

Another building houses the Fototeca, the Photography Museum, where there is an exhibition on Celso Gómez Argüelles entitled “Asturias en 3D: 1909-1937.” Argüelles (1880-1960) was a local amateur photographer who specialized in fotos estereoscópicas or stereographs. The camera Argüelles used is on display, as well as the stereoscope necessary to view the images in 3D. Since you can’t actually use the stereoscope, as it is a rare and priceless historical artifact, visitors are given 3D glasses and the images, which have been digitized, are projected onto a wall in a darkened room as flowery, romantic classical music plays softly in the background. (I’m a big sucker for flowery, romantic classical music…) The effect is mind-boggling. You really feel as if you could just step right into the images, right into the past, and shake hands with all the people going about their daily business roughly one hundred years ago.

celso

Celso Gómez Argüelles self-portrait, 1911

And one last thing: if you’re ever in Asturias, stay away from la sidra, the cider. Man, that stuff is rotten.

cachopo-la-casa-de-asturias

a fine example of a cachopo (with sidra bottles for scale)

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