Luanco, Asturias: A Morning in a Mariner’s Village

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I have a soft spot for Spain’s fishing villages. They’re timeless, usually have an attractive historic quarter, and of course, are always located on the coast. During my trip to Asturias with Turismo de Asturias and Paradores de España, I was sent on a tour of the coastal towns, and Luanco was my first stop.

Luanco, while still very much a fishing town (it’s considered the tuna capital of Asturias), is also a summer destination: it fills up with Spaniards from across the country with summer vacation homes there, and some foreign tourists as well. Quiet during the rest of the year, in the summer, the town comes alive as locals and visitors alike take advantage of the rare days of sunshine and surrounding beaches. I lucked out, and the morning of my visit was full of sunshine, despite raining buckets the night before.

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What I particularly loved about Luanco were the colorful buildings. My wonderful guide for the trip, Elena, told me that in Eastern Asturias you’ll see lots of brightly painted buildings, because the locals want their towns to feel cheerful, despite a backdrop of perpetual gray skies (it rains a LOT in Northern Spain!) We spent the majority of our time in Luanco walking around the town, as it is truly a feast for the eyes between its architecture, beaches and port. The interesting thing about the facades of these houses is that they’re made of wood. While that’s very common in my country, wooden houses are not at all common in Spain! Aren’t they gorgeous?

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Museo Marítimo de Asturias | Maritime Museum of Asturias

We later popped in to the local Maritime Museum of Asturias to learn a little more about the backbone of Luanco’s identity and economy. While this wouldn’t have been a place I’d normally be interested in going to, I’m glad it was included as part of my itinerary, as it’s such an important part of Luanco’s past, present and future. The museum includes everything from historic fishing boats, rotating exhibits (currently one on the Titanic), to an extensive permanent collection on the local marine biology–my personal favorite. Tickets for adults are just 4€ each and hours are 11:00-14:00h and 17:30-20:30 daily.

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Luanco’s Beaches

A big part of my tour was checking out the Asturian beaches–one of the more difficult jobs I’ve had in my life. 😉 In Luanco, there are a few beaches, but the best is undoubtedly Playa Luanco, located just steps away from the heart of the town. Now do you see why tourism is growing here?

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Luanco’s Local Specialty: Marañuelas

Marañuelas are the town’s specialty and are typically eaten during Semana Santa (a tradition dating back over 400 years!), though they’re available in bakeries all-year. They’re made of flour, egg yolks, sugar, butter and a bit of lemon peel, and are dense, like shortbread. According to their website,  brides traditionally gave them to the groom during courtship, and since they conserve well, they were commonly sent to distant relatives through the mail.

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Luanco’s Locals

Of course, the best part of visiting anywhere are the locals. Even though my stay in Luanco was brief, the townspeople made an impression, from these friendly fisherman who were repairing their nets, to this romantic elderly couple who made my heart melt just a little. :)

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Have you ever been to any of Asturia’s fishing villages?

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

Asturias: A First Glimpse

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Rain whipped the bus’s windshield violently as we made our way west along La Costa Verde. Small rivers formed on my window from the downpour, as I peered out over the Asturian landscape for the first time. Rolling meadows sloped upward into majestic, snow-covered peaks and terracotta-colored rooftops and flocks of sheep studded the landscape, standing out against the green canvas.  I had made it to Asturias.

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I was invited by Paradores de España and Tourism of Asturias to take part in a creative project called Paradores Partners In Design: 5 writers from around the globe were brought in to tour Asturias on highly individualized itineraries showcasing the region’s treasures. Our inspiration from Asturias, we’d then document via hand-written journals and iPads, and later mold into a story to share with a team of Spanish interior designers.

This is where the project gets really exciting.

But before I get to that, I need to explain to you what the Paradores are.

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parador-asturias-gijon

Paradores de España: What Are They?

Around 80 years ago, Spain, much like today, was trying to improve its international image. They entrusted a man by the name of Marqués de la Vega Inclán to start up a hotel chain to bring in tourism to the country, an idea which King Alfonso XIII jumped so enthusiastically on board with, that he ended up choosing the location of Spain’s first Parador in the Gredos Mountains. In the selection of the locations for the now-90+ various Paradores throughout Spain, natural beauty and historic buildings are the most important factors. Paradores are situated inside centuries-old castles, monasteries, and more. We stayed in a 100-year old mill that’s been converted into a 4-star hotel, in Gijón, Asturias.

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The Project: Paradores Partners in Design

On July 15th, 2013, the Queen of Spain will be inaugurating a new Parador in Corias, Asturias. The interior designers assigned to this project are currently taking our stories and photos and using it as inspiration in their design of the hotel’s interior. How cool is that? I’ll be able to go to this Parador and see where and how my interpretation of Asturias inspired a fellow creative’s work. Talk about flattering!

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Where I Went

My unique itinerary was a tour of the coastal villages of Asturias. In just two days I saw about 10 different seaside villages and other points of interest! To say it was a whirlwind trip would be an understatement–in the absolute best way possible! Here’s some of what you can expect to see on the blog in the coming weeks:

  • A walk through Luanco, where I fell in love with the vibrantly painted buildings.
  • Cabo Peñas, Asturia’s most northern point that was painfully beautiful!
  • Avilés a mid-sized medieval city and my first introduction to the Asturian lunch!
  • Cudillero, Asturia’s most famous (and colorful) fishing village.
  • Llanes, a town that’s home to 31 beaches!
  • Las Cuevas de Tito Bustillo, pre-historic caves with cave paintings inside!

 I really fell for Asturias and am so excited to share what I saw with you! Northern Spain continues to blow me away!

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