Playa de Torimbia: A Slice of Paradise

If a place can still look like paradise even when there are looming gray skies, a chilly breeze and light rain showers, then I can’t imagine what it would look like bathed in warm sunshine.

Let me introduce you to Playa de Torimbia, considered one of Asturia’s most beautiful beaches.

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Now when I lived in Andalucía, the region that claims the most coastline in Spain, I lived a stone’s throw away from Tarifa; one of the most popular places in the world for kite-surfing. Costa de la Luz had some incredible beaches–I remember long summer days in Zahara de los Atunes, Conil de la Frontera and Bolonia fondly.

Thank goodness moving up north didn’t mean sacrificing beautiful beaches!  The beaches I’ve seen in the north give the playas of Costa de la Luz a run for their money. Take Playa de Torimbia for instance;

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 Wondering what’s up with the director’s chair? Well, Llanes (the municipality where this beach is) has been featured in a lot of movies over the years. Check out the full list here.

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The scenery! That sand! Apparently, the natural beauty of the area drives people to take their clothes off, as this is a popular nudist beach.

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So next time you plan a beach vacation to Spain, rethink going to the same place you go to each year, and consider the north–this part of the country has some of the most beautiful bits of coastline I’ve seen! Sure, the weather isn’t always guaranteed, but July and August are usually safe bets and you’ll find beaches like this to nap on. This past summer was fantastic in the north!

 

Ribadesella: Exploring Caves and Consuming Cider

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 The big draw to Ribadesella for most are the beaches. However, I arrived on a moody day in June, and beaches were not on the agenda; something much better was–eating, drinking and exploring prehistoric caves. Yes, please!

Lunch at Quince Nudos

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We stopped by local favorite, Quince Nudos for an early lunch before we set off to see the caves. While it’s no secret that I love Spanish food, I do find a lot of restaurants in Spain to be lacking in aesthetic. Quince Nudos most certainly was not–the restaurant space was light and airy, the decor neutral and tasteful. Part of a great dining experience for me is eating in a place that lives up to the food…except for the odd hole-in-the-wall place, full of Spanish grandpas, which I’ll always make an exception for! 

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 Since we arrived early, we were the only people in the restaurant. We were greeted by the chef/owner and whisked away to a table. The chef helped us pick a well-rounded selection of his menu: creamy, piping-hot croquetas, fresh, garlicky mussels, a seafood rice dish, and my personal favorite, an Asturian cheese plate. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Asturias is well-known for their cheese throughout Spain (Cabrales, anyone?)–they even call their region “The Land of Cheese”! Cheese-making here is taken very seriously; Asturians have been making it for centuries in the caves scattered throughout the land, passing on their secrets from generation to generation.

We washed everything down with a bottle of Poma Áurea, a sparkling hard cider that I enjoyed so much, that I bought a bottle off of the chef…along with some of that Asturian cheese! What can I say, the best souvenirs are always food. :)

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Dessert was this pretty creation: chestnut ice-cream deep-fried in tempura with a chocolate base and a fine, churro topping.

Obviously, if you’re the only person in the restaurant, you’d expect great service, but at Quince Nudos they went beyond that by patiently answering all of my questions about the food, offering excellent recommendations, and timing everything perfectly. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend lunch here. Starters are from €10-15, rice dishes and meat are around €20 and desserts are €5 apiece.

Info:

Quince Nudos

C/ Avelina Cerra 6, 33560 Ribadesella, Principado de Asturias.    

Tel: 984112073

Tito Bustillo Caves

As much as I would’ve loved to leisurely finish my meal, we were about to be late for our tour of the Tito Bustillo Caves. These caves are named after the guy who discovered them with a group of his friends in 1968. Days after their discovery, Tito died in an mountain-climbing accident, and his friends named the caves after him in his honor.

Well, Tito and friends made a pretty huge discovery. They stumbled upon what is quite literally a treasure trove of history, dating back a mind-boggling amount of years and including some of the best-preserved Paleolithic cave paintings in Europe. Inside, the cave is BIG, and stretches back surprisingly far. I don’t know the exact distance, but we walked with our group for a good 10 minutes before arriving to the area where the cave paintings are.

I wish I could show you the paintings, but cameras aren’t allowed, and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining them, anyway! They’re something that you just must, MUST see while in Asturias. It’s moving to think about how many years ago that humans were inhabiting these very caves.

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Tips for Visiting the Caves

  • Use the booking system and reserve your visit in advance. They limit the amount of visitors per day in order to preserve the paintings, so it pays to plan ahead!
  • Visit the museum beforehand (buy a combined pass for the caves and museum!), so if you get stuck with a guide who doesn’t speak English, you’ll still have an understanding of the paintings and the history. Tours are given in Spanish only, and audio guides are not currently offered.
  • You can bring your camera, but inside the caves, photos are strictly prohibited. It is allowed in the museum, however.
  • Wear practical shoes and bring a jacket. The floors can be muddy and it’s chilly inside!

Cabo Peñas: Where I Fell For Asturias

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Dreamy Cabo de Peñas, Asturias

The further east you get along Spain’s Northern coast, the more rugged and rustic it gets. But driving along the windy country road to Cabo Peñas really makes you feel like you’ve disconnected–this is Asturia’s most northern point, home to a lighthouse-museum (erected in 1852) and a protected natural park.

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I couldn’t stop snapping pics of the cliffs!

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You can also see islets from the viewpoint.

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These wildflowers have the best view!

After a lovely morning in Luanco, I was prepared for some nice views. These views, however, were a little more than that; they were jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Dramatic cliffs covered in patches of wildflowers plunged into the churning waters of the Bay of Biscay. Being the first sunny day in weeks, the sky and sea were both saturated in cerulean, while everything the sunlight touched picked up its reflection and glowed. 

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Mass tourism has not touched this treasure.

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I loved the wildflowers in the park.

Taking it all in, I smiled to myself knowing Spain had me falling in love all over again (ok, it’s not that difficult). Cabo Peñas was definitely the place where I had my ‘wow moment’ in Asturias. With views like that, wouldn’t you?

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Look at the color of the water!

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The telescope wasn’t necessary to appreciate the surrounding beauty.

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The lighthouse at Cabo Peñas.

I could have easily spent all day at Cabo Peñas waiting for what surely would have been an idyllic place to watch the sunset, but I was off to Avilés for the next leg of my trip. 

Information:

Cabo Peñas Maps

How to arrive to Cabo Peñas: You’ll find Cabo Peñas about 15 minutes from Gijón, 10 minutes from Avilés, and 25 minutes from Oviedo. It’s best to get here by rental car (parking is FREE!)–that way, you can recreate my trip by exploring the beautiful Asturian coastline!