Where are You?

See that green spot up there at the top? That is Asturias, Paraiso Natural. (Natural Paradise) And that is where I am.

Asturias is a lot different from what you might think Spain looks like. For one, it is not desert, and the houses are not all white-washed. There is not a lot of bullfighting here, and neither is there too much sangria. What they do have is amazing – tall, rocky mountains, transitioning to lush, green meadows and forests, sweeping down to the craggy, harsh coast where you can find charming fishing villages clinging to the cliffs and sandy beaches you can have all to yourself. It is foggy and rains a lot here, so it sometimes seems more like Scotland than Spain. There were Celts here, too, so there are bagpipes and other celtic influences.

As a pale redhead, the Asturian climate is perfect, with lows of 10 C and highs of 30 C. (That is like 50F to 90F.)

Now, if you are into outdoor sports, Asturias is for you! There are hundreds of trails to hike on, for every level, including many for bicycling. There are mountains to climb, waves to surf, canyons to rapel down, and more. Interested in culture? There are tons of small historic villages, churches, celtic ruins, cave paintings, and more. Food? Don’t get me started – the best seafood in Spain, delicious stews, a huge variety of cheeses, sidra! (Sidra is fermented apple cider that is poured ceremoniously from a bottle over one’s head.)

Many of you have probably heard of the Camino de Santiago, or the Pilgrim’s Way, a walk that starts from points of all over Europe, eventually crossing the Pyrenees and entering Spain at the Western border with France. From there, the walk continues along several routes all the way West to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela. Of course, the walk was originallya pilgrimage route to see the remains of St. James, but has since become a challenging walk/bike ride/horse ride for millions of people all over the world, whether for religious reasons or other. The Southern route is the most well known and popular, it stretches across a beautiful, rugged part of Spain known as Leon. (It also crosses through Pamplona, La Rioja and Galicia.) What you may not know is that there is a Northern route which travels along the Northern coast of Spain – Green Spain, La Costa Verde, including Asturias. I recommend this route, especially in summer because it is green, cool and beautiful.

Okay, I know I probably don’t need to sell you on this place, I’m sure you think that it must be great. If you want to know more, here are some websites:
Info Asturias – The Government Site
Asturias in Wikipedia – For some history
BootsNAll Guide to Asturias

Oh – and for those of you phobic types who like to travel to places where you are the only tourist – Asturias is popular among Spanish tourists, and is gaining interest from French, Germans and Brits, but it is still blissfully free of the masses that overtake Madrid and Southern Spain.

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