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Road Trip Across Western Asturias

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Time was running out! With just over one week left in Asturias, we looked at the map and realized we hadn’t explored the Principality’s western half at all. Time for a road trip.

Jungle Spain

We headed out from Oviedo, through Grado, Pola de Allende, Grandas de Salime, Villanueva de Oscos and into Taramundi. It was an unforgettable trip, through forests, over hydroelectric dams, across mountain passes and into the least inhabited areas of Asturias. For long stretches, we drove without seeing another soul, save the random hunter. The roads were empty and well-maintained, which made driving an absolute pleasure.

The only extended stop we made was for lunch in Taramundi. Unfortunately, in the Hotel Taramundi we suffered through the worst meal we had during our three months in Asturias. I choked my way through a steak so raw, it must have been cooked over match light. I swear it mooed when I cut into it. I’m all for rare and bloody, but this was ridiculous. The other plate was awful too, runny eggs and the nastiest chorizo to ever bear the name.

Overall, we thought Taramundi was cute, but it’s a town clearly designed to ensnare tourists, lacking any sense of authenticity. It’s famed for its knives (navajas), so we bought one and spent the rest of the day slicing things. We were done with Taramundi after about ten minutes, and drove to the nearby village of Os Teixos. Here, they’ve shut down thoroughfare, so you have to park outside the town and walk in. Also, you have to pay an entrance fee! Os Teixos has converted itself into an open air museum dedicated to water mills.

We loved our day driving through Western Asturias, and were particularly impressed by both the hydroelectric dam near Grandas de Salime and the Puerto del Palo, which offered incredible views from 1146 meters above sea level.

If you’re curious, the route we took was the following:
From Oviedo, N634 West
About 11km after Grado, AS15 South
Shortly after a village called Tebongo, AS14 West
In Grandas de Salime, AS12 North
In Pesoz, AS13 West/North, becomes AS11 after the Puerta de la Garganta
About 10 km later, AS26 towards Taramundi

This took about three hours. We headed back to Oviedo along the much faster coastal Cantabrian Highway.

Lost Cloud
Mountain Street
West Asturias
Dam Spain
Cement Mirador
Electronic Mirador
Wild Wild West Spain
Water Towers
Grandas de Salime
Electricity Spain
Roadtrip Spain
Wind Mills Spain
Electronic Workers
Taramundi Spain
Taramundi
hombre Taramundi
Cruz Asturias
Maiz
Manzanas
Spanish Wood
Teixois Uvas
Navajas Taramundi
Schiefer
Teixois
Mills Taramundi
null
Os Teixois
Water Mill
Optical Illusion Asturias
Electricity Toixois
Drums of Spain
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October 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm Comments (0)

El Lago del Valle in Somiedo

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Looking for a Hotel in Somiedo?

During our recent day trip to Somiedo, we found ourselves with time for a long walk. After parking our car in Valle del Lago, we hiked to Lago del Valle. Now that’s some clever toponymy.

Somiedo Lake

Uninspiring name aside, the Lake of the Valley is a beautiful bit of nature. The hike takes about 90 minutes if you walk without pause, and is enchanting from beginning to end. Following the low-lying valley, the walk is easy enough and affords views of mountainsides, beechwood forests and a small river. We walked by teitas, the stone huts with straw roofs so indicative of Somiedo, and past herds of cattle.

Eventually, we arrived at the lake. Almost completely enclosed by mountains, and with a small island in its center, it’s far enough away from civilization to be quiet and unspoiled. The Lago del Valle is the largest lake in Asturias, but still small enough to walk around in 30 minutes. We sat for awhile on the shore, under the searing sun, before heading back to the village, and soaked in the nature. It’s amazing how rejuvenating a place like this can be.

Location of the Lago del Valle on our Day Trips Map

Somiedo See
Asturias
Hiking in Spain
Lago del Valle
Lago Somiedo
El Lago Del Valle Somiedo
Aqua Somiedo
Natura Asturias
Lago Asturias
Super Cute Frog

Best way to explore Somiedo

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September 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm Comments (5)

La Playa del Silencio

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Despite the overcast weather on Saturday, we decided to check out the evocatively named Playa del Silencio: the Beach of Silence. After a 40 minute drive from Oviedo, access to the beach can be found in the tiny village of Castañeras (here).

This was our first excursion in Asturias, and immediately we were struck by the beautiful nature which the region possesses. The N-632 highway ends in Galicia and, on the way, winds its way along the Asturian coast, over rivers and in view of the sea. There’s a lot more vegetation than I had expected, and the old industrial towns and shuttered-up housing we passed provided a romantic, meloncholic air.

The beach was amazing. An inlet trapped between cliffs, the water was still, crystal clear and as silent as it named promised. I was kicking myself for not having goggles or, even better, a wet-suit. Turns out the water of Spain’s northern coast is freezing, even in summer. The few Asturians who were on the beach didn’t seem to mind, jumping in without hesitation, but they were probably warmed up by cider. Besides, I was still accustomed to Valencia and the lukewarm Mediterranean. But I stiffened my lip, and leapt into the sea, managing to stay in for a grand total of twenty seconds.

Now we’ll let the pictures of this hidden Asturian spot speak for themselves. Definitely worth an outing!

Location on our Asturias Map

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August 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm Comments (9)

Our Arrival in Oviedo

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The drive from Valencia to Oviedo is a long one, so it’s lucky that the Spanish countryside is so beautiful. We needed seven hours to reach Salamanca, where we grabbed a beer in the massive Plaza Mayor, and spent the night. Before leaving the next morning, we had time to explore the cathedral, which must be the only church in the world that has a space-walking astronaut sculpted into its facade.

From Salamanca, we took the highway through the high, dry plains of Castile and León. As we progressed further north, the terrain became more hilly and we soon found ourselves in the mountains. The poetically named Embalse de los Barrios de Luna (Reservoir of the Neighborhoods of the Moon), awaited us at the end of one of the many mountain tunnels, offering up a gorgeous panorama. The sparkling water below us in the mountain’s valley was breathtaking, especially after the hours spent driving through arid plains.

As we passed into the Principality of Asturias, we were greeted by the clouds which would be our constant companions during for the next three months. But the abundant rain makes for a verdant landscape, and the downhill drive into Oviedo seemed to pass in a heartbeat. Without much difficulty, we were able to find our apartment, which was within sight of the train station, and ten minutes from the city’s historic center. Perfect.

The move from Valencia and the long drive were exhausting, but we were anxious to go explore Oviedo and Asturias. From August to the November of 2010, this blog was updated almost daily with our experiences, and impressions of the city and its people — impressions which would evolve a lot over the course of 91 days. Make sure to follow us on Twitter for real-time updates on what we’re up to, now. Hope you enjoy our pictures and anecdotes from Asturias!

And if we have any Ovetense readers, please leave comments with your insider tips on restaurants and other interesting things to do!

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July 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm Comments (5)
Road Trip Across Western Asturias Time was running out! With just over one week left in Asturias, we looked at the map and realized we hadn't explored the Principality's western half at all. Time for a road trip.
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