Ah, Asturias

Maybe it’s my Celtic ancestry, but I adore northwest Spain. The air is clean, the grass is lush, and I just want to take deep breaths off all the crisp goodness. And I know this is controversial: But I find the terrain around the Atlantic Ocean more beautiful than that around the Mediterranean (which is in the south and east of Spain) I didn’t think I could like any place in Spain more than Galicia, but the province to its east, Asturias, is just as beautiful.

People from Asturias call it “real Spain” which just means its one of the only areas in Spain that was never conquered by the Moors, but I don’t know how “real” that makes it.

Mr. Dame in Spain, our good friend and her dog, and I traveled up to Asturias for a long weekend recently. We checked in to El Habana, a charming, slightly rural, dog-friendly little hotel, located close to the downtown of Llanes. The next day, we took a bus up to the spectacular Picos de Europa, a mountain range that spans three provinces. We spend the afternoon lounging by one of two pristine lakes atop the mountain range drinking Austurian cider, which smells like a fraternity basement but tastes much better (like a cross between beer and very dry white white). It doesn’t have any bubbles in it, so you make the carbonation by holding the bottle above your head and pouring it into a glass held down below.

The following day, we drove to the town of Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, which was featured in the Woody Allen film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” A traditional Asturian band seemed to follow us through the rain. The sun came out on our drive back to Llanes, and we ate a restaurant overlooking the unbelievably blue Atlantic Ocean.

A perfect, breath of fresh air weekend getaway and one of my favorite trips in Spain to date.

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