Final Excursion to Asturias
Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
34Trip End Jun 07, 2009
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After only having a brief turnaround from my Sevilla trip, I came home, ate dinner, unpacked, repacked, and wrestled to sleep since I slept so much on the bus home from Sevilla. I was a bit hesitant to go on this trip because it appeared we would be on the bus for such a long time and actually in Asturias for only a few brief moments. I question, "why drive so far for such a short time in place where there was not much to do?". However, once I heard more about the itinerary I began to ease up a little bit
We embarked from Madrid at 9 am on Friday morning wherein I fell asleep within 20 minutes on the bus ride. Our first stop was in a place called Laerma, a tiny town in Spain that seemed like it literally had a population of 45 with the youngest person probably being 33 years old. However, it served as quite placed for us to eat our packed lunches and make fun at this infinitesimal town with dandelions floating in the air and in our faces.
We continued on the bus ride (which happened to be a comfortable bus with plenty of space) and eventually arrived at town on the northern coast (but unfortunately I forget the name right now). Many of the houses in the town were built in the 19th and 20th centuries and featured an "Indian" style. We meandered a little bit through the center on our way to some cliffs that overlooked the Cantabrian Sea with some beautiful graffiti'd rocks that were actually done by some famous artist. We then ventured towards the center again to a significant church, but due my inability to listen to what Ramiro says and the plethora of historical facts I must hear, I forget the name, form, and function of the church. Jon tells me it had small windows and acted like a fortress during earlier centuries. No big deal if I let 1 church out the 349292 churches I have seen in Spain out of my grasp....in my opinion
After a bus ride (duration in which I don't know because I was asleep), we arrived at our hotel (named Hotel Villa Rosario in an adorable town called Ribadesella. Our hotel was right on the beach looking out on the Cantabrian Sea. Although the weather was chilly, we did enjoy a nice walk on the beach following a day's activity. The sand was soft, the water cool, and the atmosphere made me feel like I was in Maine rather than...Spain. Nevertheless, our hotel's style seemed to be a mix of an Alpine Village (a la Helen, Georgia) and some some of Dutch architecture. Jon and I had a nice room, which included a Towel Warmer that we were actually unable to figure out how to use it.
That night we ventured to the center of our small town for a dinner at a place called "Llantares de Mar". This was just the meal I was looking forward to. Although the restaraunt specialized in seafood, they brought out many plates that cleansed my palate wonderfully
After dinner, I was at least looking to see what there was in this town in terms of going out. We had heard there were bars around the area, but figured they had to be small and perhaps low-energy. However, my spirits were high, and I felt a good night ahead of me. We went to a bar not too far from the restaurant. There were probably 15 people in the bar, all sitting down, all slowly sipping on a drink. We all took the bar by storm, some of us enjoying Heinekens and other taking down some red wine. We began to get silly and start a dance party in the bar among the 12-15 members of our program to the American/Euro music that we all have grown to love. The 12-15 of us easily outdid every other person in that bar combined. It proved to be a silly night with a silly walk back to the hotel. Who knew that in such a small town we could actually end up having such a good time
The next day we woke up early and enjoy probably the best breakfast we had in Spain...granted we were at a pretty fancy hotel. We went out that day and made a few stops, one included a village practically in the middle of nowhere with a church commemorating some guy named Don Pelayo. I don't remember why it was important but it was awesome to see a church like that in such an isolated place.
The highlights of the day came later. We embarked to a tiny, tiny village called Asiegu: Population 102! Literally. This is village in the mountains where 2 brothers have started a little tourist destination that showcases their Sidra (cider) and Queso de Cabrales (their famous goat chese) business. They guided us on a tour guide through their village, which featured many goats just walking around doing their thing. They were everywhere. One of the brothers brought us through the whole process of how they are organized, how they make their cheese, how they brew their sidra, and the like. There's a lot of explain but I would rather get to the huge meal that came at the end of touring day.
Alas, the meal. We entered into what appeared to be like a barn. Instead, there were long wooden tables set up with a block of their special blue cheese, another cheese, some pieces of bread, hard-boiled eggs, honey, and pepper. From the ceiling, from 3 different spouts, poured down sidra at the click of the button. I want my garage to be like that someday...only with beer instead. After a schpeel by one of the brothers, finally the meal began to be served. The dishes came as follows:
1) Tortillas de Maiz (Puffy corn chips) in which you take the blue cheese, put on the chip, soak it with honey, and munch)
--- Sidenote: This blue cheese was the strongest blue cheese I have ever had by far
2) Tortilla con Bacalao (Codfish omelette in essence)
--- Sounds interesting, but even with a little blue cheese on it, it tasted delicious
3) Chorizo a la sidra (Sausage soaked in Cider)
4) Croquettas de jamón (fried dough filled with ham....a typical Spanish dish)
5) Bottomless glasses of Sidra
6) Nutty bread pudding??? ---not sure, but it was good.
Literally, I was just putting cheese and honey on everything and I thought it all tasted majestically. Following the feast, I entered a food coma where I literally could not move. However, the day was far from over. We got on the bus, napped, and then waited for a Funicular (apparently are what they are called), which is like a cable car that takes you up a mountain. We hopped on one of these and saw some amazing views on top of mountain where there was a tiny town/village: Population 10. I kid you not. Not sure how they are considered real towns, but they each had about 10 people in it with several tourists
When we got back to the hotel, some of us took a walk along the beach, and eventually grabbed some pizza for take out. This place, Asturias, just made it seem like we were not in Spain. Rather, we felt like we were in some other land filled with an immense amount of vegetation and beauty. That night was low key; a couple beers and little wine and no major activities.
The next day was practically pointless. We went to a place called Altamira that is home to ancient caves from 16,500 years ago where significant cave drawings were discovered. However, I thought going here was silly because we were seeing a "neo-cave" or simply, a representation of the cave and the drawings rather than the real thing. I am sure the drawings in the real caves were great. But I could care less about fabrications in this case. After this, and lunch in a old, cute town we headed back 5 hours on a bus towards Madrid.
Immediately upon arrival, it was time to meet up with my dad and Melissa. Short turn-around once again.
See next blog entry for details......