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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.  

Cudillero, Asturias: A Sea of Terracotta

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Cudillero is one of those places that is just so achingly gorgeous, that it could set off wanderlust in even the biggest homebody. It’s a place you visit, and find yourself returning to often in your daydreams. Since I’m a sucker for pretty little towns, it’s no surprise that I loved Cudillero and ate up its views.

I remember seeing pictures of Cudillero a couple of years ago, splashed on the pages of a travel magazine. Then, I saw that the lovely La Tortuga Viajera had recently visited (check out her amazing photos!) I believe in love at first sight, because taking one look at the town was all the convincing I needed; I knew I just had to visit and luckily, a stop was included on my Asturias itinerary.

I visited in June, on an afternoon void of sunshine and people–but the town is so gorgeous, it doesn’t need to have good weather or even ambiente to be appreciated.

I mean, look at the place!

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cudillero_streetsAs with most of the places I visited on this trip to Asturias, my time here was limited. Since I went during siesta, the town was quiet–perfect for clambering to the top for the best view, without having to elbow my way through crowds!

The walk is steep, but definitely worth it–you’re rewarded with views of terracotta rooftops, layers upon layers of quirky, colorful houses, all wrapped in a lush hillside and the Atlantic ocean.

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cudillero_sea Cudillero is small, and one of Asturia’s most famous towns because it’s just so pretty. Other than that, the attractions here are basically limited to the views–which I’d say are most certainly worth stopping for.

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 If you’re a little photo-obsessed, like me, you’ll find exploring the snaking streets to be the perfect way to spend your time here. Look who I found as I turned a corner!

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Whatever you do, make sure you give northern Spain some love on your next trip to this country. Unless you don’t like rolling green hills, sandy beaches, nearby mountains, incredible food and pretty towns like this…then just leave it for the rest of us.

Have you ever head of Cudillero? Would you add this town to your Spain itinerary?