Gypsy ways update 7 covers our time in Asturias, the beautiful central part of the north coast of Spain. To the west of Asturias is Galicia and the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela. To the east is Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Basque country. But in between, roughly centered around the city of Oviedo, is the lovely province of Asturias.
Many people envision Spain as being dry and hot. While parts are like that, Asturias is part of what they call “Green Spain.” It has beautiful ocean beaches that quickly sweep up into magnificent mountain scenery. It’s climate is wetter and cooler than most of the rest of Spain, and that makes it a great place to be for the hot summer months.
[La puerta a la melancolía, by O.M.A via Flickr]
We stayed in the tiny mountainside town of Carrea, outside of San Martín de Teverga. This is what the town looks like from a higher spot:
In this photo, the village looks bigger than it really was. If you consider that at least half of the roofs seen are for barns and other structures, the village probably consisted of not more than 30 houses.
This was the view from the front of the house, looking over our neighbor’s patio and the roof of her barn over the valley and the mountains further inland.
We had lots of friends roaming around – cats, dogs, chickens, horses, cows, a goat, and these noisy but cute donkeys:
Within easy drives there was outstanding mountain scenery. This was on the border between Asturias and the neighboring province of León (my photo doesn’t really do it justice):
Just above Carrea is the tiny Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Cébrano, and we happened to be there for their annual procession.
The bread and flowers that are on the poles are auctioned off along with other items later in the afternoon and the proceeds go to support the Sanctuary throughout the year. In the background, you can see the bouncy castle for the kids. What you can’t see is that behind the sanctuary to the left, there is an enormous bar tent. As is typical of events in all of Spain, the party for this event went until the wee hours of the next morning – we heard the band shut down at about 1:00 AM, and the party sounds finally died down at about 3:00.
Asturias has more than just mountain scenery as it has a very beautiful coastline as well. There are beaches, such as this one – the Playa de Poo (really!) near Llames.
For me, the most beautiful scenery along the Asturian coast are the places where the land meets the sea most dramatically.I took the above photo on a day with calm seas… however when the seas are rolling, this area gets pretty interesting. Over time, the ocean has carved tunnels of different sizes up through the rock to the surface. These holes are called “bufones.”
On a calm day, you will hear the wind rushing through the fissures and it sounds like the ground is breathing (pretty creepy, actually). You might see a little water vapor once in a while. But then there are days like this:
The video gives a much better sense of the scale of the cliffs and the people on top of them. It’s awe inspiring!
Like all areas of Spain, the Asturians are extremely proud of their land, their culture, and their food. While their meat and fish are superb, I enjoy their Fabada Asturiana immensely. It’s a delicious mix of beans, spices, sausages and meats that you won’t find anywhere else.
And then there’s the sidra. The climate of Asturias is much better suited for growing apples rather than grapes, so instead of drinking wine, you drink sidra (cider). Ah, but you don’t just pour it into a glass and drink it slowly like a beer… you want it to get some bubbles in it first. This is the way…
They pour about an inch of sidra at a time, and you drink it right away. If you don’t drink it fast enough, it will oxidize too much and be spoiled. Most bars have buckets or drains to pour off the extra. You could study the whole culture that revolves around sidra for years!
The next update will cover a bit more of Spain, and then our travels back north through France and the UK as we start our way back home.
(Here’s a link to the previous Update 6)