- Food & Drink
Cow yoga is an important part of the traditions of Asturias
If you’ve read my last two posts about my press trip to Asturias, then you’re probably thinking: how can I get to this land of cheese and cider and where shall I stay when I get there? Let me help you with this quick round up of useful information.
We flew to Asturias with easyJet from London Stansted. Flight time is around 11/2 hours. easyJet are the only airline flying direct to Asturias at the moment, but you can pitch up in Madrid, Santander or anywhere in Spain really and work out a route if you have time and patience.
Where to go
We had a tight schedule, due to all the lunching we needed to get through, so we went on a whistle-stop tour of Asturias’ highlights, starting with Avilés. A pretty coastal town with a cobbled medieval heart, it’s kept cool by the kind of winds that are called sea breezes even as they rake your hair and clothes upwards. Its colonnaded streets are made for rambling along, stopping off at bars for a cider and something fishy to eat.
The Picos de Europa National Park rolls through Asturias, the mountain slopes thronging with cattle as much as tourists. There are easy paths winding alongside lakes, like Lake Cavadonga, that you can walk without worrying about whether your boots are up to it. Our Geoface guide, Diego, told us about huts dotted along the mountains that you can hike between if you fancy getting a little more wilderness into your holiday. Geoface will organise tours, if you’re determined not to get lost.
On the coast in Ribadedeva, the Pindal Caves are where Paleolithic man once got busy with a paintbrush. Torch lit tours pick out the dots, stripes and mammoths that decorate the cave, while the nearby shrine to Our Lady of Cavadonga lets you glimpse a more modern form of mysticism.
And then there are the beaches. La Franca beach is a dip of sand between two hunks of rock that is particularly good for families. Lots of sand and shallow water, and plenty of sun beds from which parents can watch their splashing offspring.
Llanes is a great base if you like a range of golden sands to slumber on. A string of beaches, including the hilariously named Playa de Poo (pronounced Po, I’m told) are within easy reach and the town has plenty to keep you active when you can drag yourself away from the surf.
Where to stay
In Avilés we stayed in the deeply luxurious Hotel Palacio de Avilés. Wrapped around a corner of the old town, it’s sympathetically fitted out and the slippers they left by my bed were the most comfortable hotel slippers I have ever padded about it. I deeply regret not stealing them.
On La Franca beach there is the Mirador de la Franca. A slightly creaky grand old dame of a hotel, it has a back door that turns you straight out onto the sands and rooms that are damp with sea air and look out onto the most spectacular view.
For a more land-locked but equally beautiful look-out, try the Hostería de Torazo. Tucked away in the hills, this elegant hotel offers a quiet retreat from, well, all the quiet. It has a fantastic spa tucked away in its basement, which looks straight down the valley so you can wallow in warm waters while watching the sun set.
Where to eat
You’ve read my previous post about the three incredible restaurants I ate in? So you know to go to Casa Gerardo, Restaurante El Retiro and Casa Marcial. Some other good options include the Tierra Astur chain that I mentioned in this post, especially if you’re interested in trying Asturian cuisine. They have 150 traditional dishes on their menu and their waiters know how to pour the local cider so you get the right amount of fizz.
Los Arcos in Cangas de Onís also knows its way around a bottle of cider. There is a gutter around the bar for throwing the from your glass in, although the rest of the drinks menu is worth exploring.
We had a particularly great beer alongside our lunch, which was cooked on hot plates in front of us. A clever mix of local ingredients, traditional French techniques and a few lighter, more modern touches, it was wonderfully mosey through the flavours of the countryside. Favourite dishes included octopus with pineapple and tomato salad, and a thick slice of barely cooked tuna with girolles, truffles and cream.
If you’re bar hoping in Avíles, look out for Llambres on the C/Galiana, where we nibbled on new potatoes stuffed with whipped foie gras, and squares of cornbread topped with sardines. For something a little more old school, go to Casa Tataguyo. In business since 1845 and with dining rooms that haven’t changed for 100 years, this is an Avíles institution. The walls of the back room are covered in photos of movie stars, politicians and sports bars. Upstairs there is a table of gin. What else can you need from a night out?