Although we were on the verge of turning around and going back to the sunny beaches of Barcelona after a couple of rainy days on the west coast, we went on with our scheduled plan to our next destination in Gijón, where we left the province of Galicia and entered into Asturias. What is Asturias famous for, you ask? Only the most beautiful untouched beaches of Spain and don’t forget about the sidrerías. After a 3 hour drive we made it to Gijón where we were greeted with gray skies, but at least no rain. Ok…so we thought, we can handle this weather. Luckily after two hotels without elevators or parking we finally got a break here and had both. There would be no trudging 6 or 7 suitcases up 5 flights of stairs…at least for the next two days!
We relaxed a little and then decided that we should go out for a strole and find one of these famous sidrerías. What is that, you ask? In Asturias they are very well known for making ‘sidra’ (cider), not the kind we have on Christmas with a cinnamon stick, this cider is cold, bottled, carbonated, and fermented, but still made from apples. In our first sidrería we learned the trick to how you have to drink this special cider from Asturias. First they uncork the bottle, then the waiter takes your glass, medium sized with a wide top, and fills it with only about an inch full of cider. Did I mention that he pours it with the bottle above his head and the glass down by his hip? Without spilling! True talent! This is so that the cider has time to aerate or breathe before you drink it, but only giving you a bit and recorking the bottle as to make sure the bubbles don’t escape. The real trick is trying to drink the whole amount that the waiter gives you in one gulp, because whatever is left in the glass you have to throw in the bucket in the middle of the table. This takes practice! Haha!
As the sidrería filled up with people, each table had one, two, ten bottles on it, and each time the waiter would pass by, he would fill up all the cups, one at a time, with just enough for a big gulp. He was a busy guy when that place got packed with people, because nobody is drinking if he’s not pouring!
The next day we woke up to SUNSHINE! We quickly got ready as to not let the sun pass us by and headed down to the marina for our first good look at the water. Bright blue, with waves crashing in, we were so excited! We took a long stroll all around the marina and headed up the hill to the furthest northern point of land and there we found big giant rocky cliffs covered in deep green grass and moss with waves crashing into their sides. It was absolutely beautiful! To our amazement, the sun was still out, and we kept on walking along the water enjoying every minute of the rays pouring down on us and listening to the waves crash against the rocks.
As 2:30pm rolled around we found ourselves in the ‘Plaza Mayor’ or the main square of the town and saw a heard of people standing outside of one of the restaurants there. I said “That’s the one.”, always looking for a restaurant packed with Spaniards because it must be the best in town! And boy was it ever! We dined on delicious fresh-caught fish slathered in garlic and olive oil and a special Asturian Fabada, a stew served with ham, chorizo, morcilla and more that is only served in the coldest month of the year, January. (Lucky us! Haha!) And to top it off, we had some of the best homemade deserts I have ever eaten. WOW is really all I can say! But don’t forget the cider! Here we are in this beautiful, white tablecloth restaurant, full of people enjoying their Sunday afternoon, and waiters running around to all of the tables, pouring, from above their heads mind you, cider into each and every glass. What a sight! Right as we were about to leave, we took a look outside to find the streets flooded with rainwater. Glad we had carried around our umbrellas all day, we headed back home to enjoy a relaxing and restful night in our pajamas.
Luckily, we were not done with Asturias yet, and as we woke up the next morning we headed off to Llanes. Well, we were actually staying in Poo, right outside of Llanes. Yes, Poo. But upon arrival, we both agreed that if this was ‘poo’ we would live in it! What a beautiful setting! On one side you saw tall mountains, the ‘Picos de Europa’, covered in snow, and on the other, cows munching on green grass while enjoying the views of the blue ocean crashing in. I couldn’t have imagined it any prettier than it was, and did I mention…the sun was out! These two nights we were staying in a ‘casa rural’, which meant we were going to be outside of the city. We arrived to our ‘apartamento’, the cutest little house set back in the fields up on a little hill in Poo. We were greeted by a little old couple who were running the place for their daughter and they welcomed us with gifts of special cheese from the region as well as a bottle of Asturian cider. So sweet! We were amazed as we entered into our apartment; everything perfectly designed and prepared to the ‘T’. We had a little downstairs with kitchen and living room equipped with a fireplace and then up the spiral staircase we went to find a newly remodeled bathroom and bedroom furnished with beautiful wooden furniture. I took so many pictures, because literally, if I could have a house that looked just like that someday, I would be a very happy lady! We were in love, and we hadn’t even explored the town yet…but it just kept getting better.
As we headed out to the beaches, the sun followed us there, but we dared not acknowledge it, because we knew then it would go away. It was a 5 minute drive into Llanes where we parked the car and were ready to explore, knowing later that it was definitely walkable. We found ourselves right on a little inlet where we could see ocean for miles down the coast with waves crashing in all the way down, and still…sun! We walked and walked, leaning over the edges of the wall every few minutes letting the breeze and the waves splash our faces. As we walked, we could see off into the distance some huge rock formations with water splashing up through them sending water soaring 50 feet or more up into the air. We decided we needed to investigate.
So we headed off to the other side of Llanes, another 5 minute drive through the windy streets of this city by the sea. As we reached the other side, we determined that this may be one of our only chances to stick our toes in the water and not get rained on our swallowed up by a wave. So we stopped for a coffee at a local café right by the water and there we rolled up our jeans, took off our boots, and headed down to the beach. Everyone around looked at us like we were crazy, which may in fact be true, but we were getting our feet in! As we approached the roaring waves, I had second thoughts…but we did it anyway! And oh, how cold it was! As we curled our toes in the sand to keep them from the wind, we looked out into the sea, marveling at its beauty. We headed back to the house to warm up and enjoyed a night out on the countryside. What an enchanting place!
The next day we woke and made ourselves coffee, what a treat might I add, to actually have a coffee maker! Oh the little things that make me so happy! After working on my thesis for a bit and mom doing laundry (we had our own washer and mom got to experience the Spanish way of drying on clotheslines and radiators…not sure she is a fan) we headed back out to the waters. As I am training for a ½ marathon in mid February, I took advantage of these beautiful seascapes and had an awesome run along the water. Mom also took advantage of the great weather we were having and took a nice long walk along the grassy seaside as she admired the huge cliffs and water crashing into them. We headed back to the house and prepared ourselves an amazing late lunch and even got to sit outside on our patio while we ate! As we were eating, we were even visited by some horseback riders passing by. Of course, she loved that! We were so content there; we just passed the rest of the day away enjoying our cute little house and the blessing of beautiful weather! We decided we could definitely stay here forever…but the following day it was off to our next destination, the city loved by all, San Sebastián.
Language: Asturiano or Bable – close roots to latin
Cultural extras: Special way of pouring the ‘sidra’
Food Specialties: Sidra, Fabada (white bean stew), Queso cabrales (artisan cheese made from cow’s milk on rural dairy farms)