Lastres, Asturias: Where the Dinosaurs Roamed

I saw Lastres in a photo (from the same viewpoint as my photo below) a few days before my departure to Asturias and it got me really excited about my trip. I mean, look at this place:

lastres-asturias

lastres-lookout

asturian-town-lastres

Talk about gorgeous!

While I didn’t even set foot in the actual town of Lastres (unless you count driving through), I did gawk over it from above, and learned about some of the town’s original inhabitants: dinosaurs.

Jurassic Museum of Asturias

Yup, there have been dinosaur prints found on some of the cliffs on the coastline in the area, and excavations in 2005 found not only Jurassic prints, but bones. These fossils have been put on display in the neighboring town of Colunga, at a multi-million dollar Jurassic museum that I visited as part of my Asturias tour.

Fun fact: the museum is shaped like a dinosaur print!

jurassic-museum-asturias

dinosaur-museum-exterior

Before my visit, I had no idea that Asturias had found dinosaur prints on its coastline, so I was definitely excited to check out the museum. It did not disappoint. It was as interesting for the thousands of fossils and life-sized dinosaurs on display as it was for its cool architecture. See that plywood ceiling in the photos below? They’re meant to simulate a dinosaur’s rib-cage–I love seeing creativity in action like that.

dinosaur-museum-spain

trex-replica

While the museum focuses on the Jurassic period, it does feature collections that span over 3,500 million years! It’s regarded as one of the best museums in the world of its kind. It would be a perfect stop for families, or just anyone who wants to learn more about these incredible beasts.

Museum Info:

General admission: €7

Entry free on Wednesdays and always free from those 3 and under.

For location, schedules and more, check out the museum’s website.

 

This was included as part of my visit to Asturias with Turismo de Asturias and Paradores de España. All opinions are my own.

 

Ria de Villaviciosa: Cruising on an Estuary

My second day in Asturias was just as busy and fun-filled as my first. The first stop of the morning took us to an estuary called Ria de Villaviciosa, for a cruise down the river and out to the Cantabrian sea. Our skipper was a charismatic Asturiano named Carlos, who warmly greeted us, then cracked a few jokes; putting us at ease right away. We were about to take a small boat into (what I deemed) rough waters and since swimming is not my strong suit, having someone like Carlos by your side makes you say “Oh, what the heck”, and go along with it.

villaviciosa-1 villaviciosa-2 villaviciosa-3 villaviciosa-4

As we set sail, Carlos gave us a tour of the estuary, shouting over the roar of the boat’s engine and the choppy waves sloshing against the sides. Not wanting to fall head-first into the chilly waters with my DSLR around my neck, I planted my butt on the nearest bench and snapped photos from the safety of my seat. The estuary is beautiful; filled with all sorts of flora and fauna (if you’re into bird-watching, apparently this is an excellent place for it) and surrounded by green hills. 

villaviciosa-5 villaviciosa-6 villaviciosa-7

As the river meets the ocean, some big waves roll in, making this area a draw for surfers. As I looked out over the water, about 10 wet-suit cladded figures bobbed up and down in the water, chasing waves with their boards. 

villaviciosa-8 villaviciosa-9 villaviciosa-10 villaviciosa-11 villaviciosa-12

Carlos owns a business called TRAMPALONES that offers not only these cruises and sailing equipment, (not as extensive as yachtmailchandlery in the UK) but kayak rentals, fishing, diving, and even classes of “Kayak-Surf”, which is essentially surfing the waves in a kayak, not on a board. If you’re in Asturias, I highly recommend you stop by–the prices are budget-friendly (river cruises are 6€ per half hour, and kayak rentals are 8€/hour) and it’s a great way to do something active and different in a largely unknown part of Spain. Besides, who wouldn’t want to hang out with a Santa Clause look-alike, who’s just as jolly?

He’s also in the process of remodeling this boat to offer for rentals for small families and couples. He gave me a tour of the inside, which is fully-equipped with showers, beds, a kitchen and more. I particularly loved the Asturian touches he put on the outside…Asturias has a lot of myths and legends, which he utilized in the decor. Isn’t it a beaut?

villaviciosa-13 villaviciosa-14 villaviciosa-15 villaviciosa-16

I went to Asturias as a guest of Turismo de Asturias and Paradores de España. All opinions are my own.  

Luarca, Asturias: Spain’s Most Beautiful Town?

Luarca calls itself “El Pueblo Más Bonito de España” or, “Spain’s Most Beautiful Town.” It’s in a privileged location: with the Bay of Biscay on its doorstep, plentiful beaches to take advantage of during the summer months, and all of the surrounding outdoorsy goodness that is Asturias. It’s a stop for those on the Camino del Norte, as well as sun-worshippers, but mainly it’s just a pretty fishing village.

When my guide, Elena, and I stopped in Luarca after a jam-packed day hopping from coastal town to coastal town, she pointed out that from Luarca westward, the colorful Asturian buildings I had enjoyed so much were less frequent, matching more the Galician style with their white-washed facades–which explain’s Luarca’s other nickname as “Villa Blanca de la Costa Verde.

cudillero-rs-2 cudillero-rs-4 cudillero-rs-5 cudillero-rs-7

The Cemetery With the Best Views

A surprising place to take in the view is the town’s cemetery, located on top of the hill that winds down to the center. Here, lots of notable families and people are buried: artists, poets, journalists and more. While visiting cemeteries may seem rather morbid to some, Luarca calls theirs an “open-air museum.” I just call it a great place to take in some views!

cudillero-rs-8 cudillero-rs-9 cudillero-rs-11 cudillero-rs-12

Things To Do in Luarca

Luarca isn’t a place you go to to check off monuments–it’s a place you go to to unwind and take in some of the simple pleasures the town offers: to enjoy a steaming mug of café con leche by the port, check out the daily fish auction at the lonja, stroll through its streets and plazas. Like Cudillero, it’s best seen from above, so make sure you stop at the top before you descend down, to fully appreciate it.

cudillero-rs-13 cudillero-rs-15 cudillero-rs-16 cudillero-rs-19 cudillero-rs-21

Head to the Pastelería

I may have the world’s biggest sweet tooth, so upon learning that nearly every town in Asturias has its it’s own specialty baked good, I obviously had to investigate. While my research may have been in vain (I never did find out Luarca’s specialty), there’s no complaints over here!

cudillero-rs-22 cudillero-rs-23

What do you think? Does Luarca really live up to its name of “Spain’s Most Beautiful Town?”

I went to Asturias as a guest of Turismo de Asturias and Paradores de España. All opinions are my own.