Amazing Asturias – Part One

Looking back over our photos of our recent holiday in Galicia and Asturias, I found it hard to pick just a few photos to share with you.  So….even though I left most of them back on my PC, I still have plenty of beautiful sights to tell you about.

We drove the 400km or so from our hotel in Galicias to our base in Asturias over the course of a day.  First we stopped in the beautiful seaside village of Cudillero for lunch where we ate our amazing Fabes con Almejas.  The village houses appear to be built on top of each other, clinging onto the cliffs, and painted in beautiful colours.

Our hotel ended up being a one bedroom apartment, which was great as we were there for 4 nights, right in the centre of a seaside town called Ribadesella (which translates as the bank of the River Sella).

We had a fantastic view of an old Hermitage from our bedroom window.

And to the right of it there was an amazing house, with the sea right behind it.

The next day we put on our walking boots and packed a picnic to head up into the mountains.  The weather didn´t bode well, but we pressed on to Covadonga to see the Basilica.

The clouds started to get lower, all very beautiful and atmospheric, but not really what we had hoped for.

We started the long, slow, drive up the twisting road to the lakes, and the fog came down.

Gorgeous View!

When we reached the lakes this is what we could see!

Time to get back in the car...

Walks were forbidden, there was no visibility so we made our way back down the mountain and through a village called Cangas de Onis where there is a Roman bridge.  Because of the weather, it seemed everyone else had had the same idea and we couldn´t park, so we took a quick photo from the car window instead.

High speed photography

Finally we turned off the main road to find a perfect picnic spot from where we chomped away on our Empanadas and Bollos Preñaos, looked at the cows and watched the kayakers.

Back at our hotel, we were determined to take at least a little walk as we were still all dressed up in our proper boots, so we took a stroll on our little beach, battling with the wind as we went on our way.

Finally, a hot shower and a walk into the centre of Ribadesella.

Followed by a well deserved drink and dinner at Casa Juanito in the main square.

We spent a wonderful day with some of Big Man´s huge family, stopping first to pick up his aunt and uncle in a town called Salinas.  It  has an amazing sea front walk with an outdoor museum of anchors from all over the world.  The walk ends with a spectacular view out to sea.

One of the family has an Hórreo in their garden – these are ancient storage areas (now preserved and highly valued) made of stone or wood and on raised legs.  Couldn´t resist taking some snaps, even though the lady of the house was embarrassed about her washing hanging up to dry underneath!

So….still more to come from our last day in Asturias and our stop in Salamanca on the way home.  Enough for today though, we´ve covered quite a few miles together already.

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Galicia and Asturias – Where You Could Never Go Hungry!

Oporto - still beautiful in the drizzle

We´re back from an incredible 8 day, 3500km trip to the north of Spain.  We drove west from Malaga then north through Portugal, stopping off briefly in Porto then to our first base of Sanxenxo in the Rias Baixas in Galicia. After three days in Galicia we headed east and based ourselves for four days in Ribadesella in Asturias and then finally headed back south, stopping off in León and then staying the night in beautiful Salamanca.  Our final leg of the journey home allowed for two quick stops in Caseres and Mérida….phew, what a trip!

I thought I´d do a few posts on this trip over the next few weeks, and share some of the experiences we had…food, drink, sights.  I do hope you enjoy them.

Galicia is very famous for its Pulpo a la Gallega, so we enjoyed this several times.  A particularly good one was eaten in the beautiful town of O Grove.

Pulpo a la Gallega - in Galicia

We took a boat trip, which was fun despite the rain, to look at the Rias (which are estuaries) and to see where the oysters, mussels and scallops are cultivated.  We were fed freshly caught mussels, steamed open and served with a young, local white wine.  Perfect.

We ate SO many...the trays full of steamed mussels just kept coming!

In Santiago De Compostela, which is the destination for pilgrims and walkers on the Camino De Santiago (a mediaeval pilgrimage route), we admired the incredible cathedral and enjoyed a slice of their local cake (made with almonds and adorned with the symbol of Santiago – or Saint James – the Patron Saint of Spain).

Delicious with a strong cup of coffee

We also enjoyed several empanadas during our time in Galicia – which are made with both meat and fish.  Very tasty snacks indeed.

Hard to resist...so we didn´t!

In a very pretty fishing village called Cudillero, where the houses appear to be stacked one on top of another, we ate our first Fabas.  Galicia and Asturias have a great culture of soup type dishes made with their local white beans and served in different ways.  Another tradition is to put a huge tureen of the dish on the table and you just keep serving yourself until you can´t eat any more.  What a fabulous idea!

Go on..you can manage a few more!

These were served with local clams, which are bigger than the ones we typically see in Andalucía and the dish is called Fabas con Almejas.

HUGE and delicious clams

One day we went to Covadonga, which is a beautiful mountain top Sanctuary and took a picnic to eat further up at the lakes. The weather was so bad that when we got there we could only see fog so we drove back down to the River (the Sella) and enjoyed our Bollos Preñaos (which translates literally as pregnant rolls!) and Empanadas by the river.

Gives a whole new meaning to "a bun in the oven"!

The delicious rolls are made with bread wrapped round chorizo and baked as a ready made snack.

Empanadas with a river view

Dinner one evening was a delicious salad made with mushrooms and bacon and served with a delicious rosé wine.

Messy Mushrooms

Alongside this we tried a variety of local Asturian cheeses.  The most famous is Cabrales, a pungent blue cheese which we really enjoyed.  Our car was a bit stinky when we got home as we bought some back!

Gorgeous stinky cheeses!

We also ate an amazing rice and lobster dish, Asturian Pote (a vegetable stew with pulses), beautiful beef and ribs….but we were obviously hungry or greedy and never got to take photos of these.

A beautiful mediaeval town in Cantabria is Santillana Del Mar, and we found an amazing bar that did a huge selection of Pinxos (like larger sized tapas).

Decisions, decisions....

We managed to work our way through a few of them with no problems. Well…it was raining and we were waiting for the downpour to stop!

I´ll have one of those, ooh...and one of those...ooh and...

Our final night in Ribadesella we ate a wonderful Hake and Prawn casserole – but only remembered to snap it as we had almost finished.

Sorry...but we were hungry after a busy day of sightseeing

Near Leon we ate another incredible bean dish.  This one was made with what they called “Cinnamon Beans” (because of their beautiful colour) and was cooked with smoked pancetta.

Cinnamon coloured beans...so tasty

And finally, our last night in a very lively Salamanca was spent wandering around the city by night looking at the beautiful buildings and enjoying a variety of tapas.  These were Callos (tripe with chick peas) and Albóndigas (pork and jamon meatballs).

Tapeando en Salamanca por la noche - Nightime Tapas in Salamanca

So, it´s back to reality for us, but with happy memories, full stomachs and lots of ideas for new recipes in the months to come.  Hope you enjoyed sharing a little of our holiday with us.  Of course, it wasn´t all eating and drinking….next time I´ll show you some of the beautiful sights.  ¡Hasta luego for now!