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Asturias patria querida

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I was out last week on vacation in Asturias, in the North-West of Spain. Asturias is one of the few regions in Spain I had never visited, so it was time, and what a good idea indeed. Asturias (or at least the East part of it, where I’ve been) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. With the sea in the North, and a land full of huge mountains (totally covered with forests or with land full of cows and horses), it is indeed a paradise (that’s what they say when you get into Asturias, ‘Welcome to Asturias, a nature paradise’).

We went to Cangas de Onís, a very nice village close to the river Sella (the real reason we came here, more later), just a few kms close to the Picos de Europa national park, and with lots of things to do around.

First mandatory thing to do was to visit the Lagos de Covadonga, mytical finish of lots of stages of the Vuelta a España (cyclism’ Tour of Spain), with the sanctuary of Covadonga in the way to it:

The road to the lakes, which goes from less than 200 meters to more than 1000 meters above the sea level, is indeed perfect for a cycling race, except for the cows, which just hang around the road and the mountains around without caring about the cars, just laying down in the middle of the road :-)

At the top of the road, the landscape is really wonderful:

But as I said, we came to Cangas de Onís because we wanted to do some canoieng in the river Sella, famous because of the International Descent of the River Sella, a race, to take place on August 9th, where 1000s of people participate, racing and in the different celebrations in all the villages and towns along the river bank. I don’t have many photos of this, since I didn’t want to ruin my camera if my canoe got sinked :-) So the first day we did it, I didn’t take any photos, the 2nd one, I took my cell phone with me and just got a few photos.

You just need to pay 25 € per person, and you are given a single/double/triple canoe, and then you can go on your own, stop in any of the many beaches around the river to eat the snadwiches you are given, or just relax. And then there are different places where you can stop, at 7, 10 or 12 kms. We got, although quite tired, both days to the last exit, and, believe me, we would have continued for more time, since just being in the river, surrounded by mountains, without seeing any civilization apart from the (lots of) people canoeing also and the few bars around the river bank is indeed a very funny thing to do, which, hopefully, I’ll be doing again around here, if I can find a place to do it (there are lots of rivers around here, but not sure if you are allowed to navigate them, and also, I wouldn’t like going on my own without knowing if a place is safe or not).

Also, while I don’t fancy much going to the beach in summer (I love it in winter), I have to confess I’ve changed a bit my mind after being in some beaches in Asturias. First of all, the weather is ok, not too hot (as in the Mediterranean, where I’ve almost always been when going to the beach in Summer), and there are just a few people, and finally, but most important, the beaches are just spectacular. We found one, called Playa de las Cuevas del Mar, which was a perfect place to just sit down and contemplate.

We also did lots of walking around the countryside, some tourism sightseeing, and, every day, we ate wonderful stuff like Chorizos a la Sidra, Escalopines al Cabrales, etc, and, specially, Fabada:

I’ll be back to Asturias soon for sure.