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Cangas de Onís – The First Capital of Asturias

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One of the most visited towns in all of Asturias is also one of its oldest. Serving as the entrance to the parks of Covadonga, the village of Cangas de Onís is inundated every weekend and throughout the summer with religious tourists who’ve come to pay tribute to the spiritual heart of Asturias.

Just over 6000 people actually live in the town, and I would bet that 95% of them are dedicated to tourism. But despite the ubiquitous souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants, Cangas de Onís manages to project some genuine charm. After the legendary battle of Covadonga, Pelayo, the victorious leader and first Asturian king, chose Cangas de Onís as the capital of his nascent kingdom. For over fifty years, until 774 when the capital was moved to Pravia, the town served as the nucleus of Christendom in the Iberian peninsula.

One of the most photographed images in Spain is found here. The humpbacked Roman Bridge was actually built during the the 14th century, well after the Romans were gone, but the name stuck. And with the Picos de Europa in the background, the beautiful Sella river running below it, and the symbol of Asturias (the Cross of Victory) hanging from the middle, it’s an impressive sight.

Location of Cangas de Onís on our Day Trips Map

Cangas de onis
Cruz Victoria Cangas Onís

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October 13, 2010 at 10:22 am Comments (0)

Senda del Oso – Path of the Bear

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The villages of Tuñón and Entrago, found south of Oviedo, are connected by the Senda del Oso, a popular trail running through the valley carved by the Trubia River. Formerly a track for mining trains, the trail has been converted for recreational use and has a lot to recommend it: rapids, tunnels, cliffs, fountains, villages and, yes, bears.

We did the 22-kilometer walk on a Sunday morning, when the mist was still covering the tops of the mountains, and were amazed by the scenery. When you think “Spain”, mountainous and verdant Lord-of-the-Rings-landscape isn’t usually what pops into your mind. Although very long, the trail was easy — basically flat and endlessly entertaining.

Just south of Proaza, whose most impressive feature is a massive hydroelectric station, you come upon the enclosure of Paca and Tola — two rescued brown bears, orphaned as babies when a hunter slew their mother. They’ve been living in there since 1996, and are now twenty-one years old. We weren’t able to get too close but, even from afar, the bears were cute — playful and almost human-like in their actions. A male bear, Furaco, has been brought in for mating purposes, but the sisters apparently haven’t shown much interest in him. Poor Furaco. Maybe he’d have more luck with another type of bear.

By the time we reached Entrago, we were exhausted. We had time for lunch and a long siesta on a park bench, before the bus back to Oviedo. This was our first experience with the bus system in Asturias — it’s pretty good! Just €2,05 to Tuñón, and €3,75 on the way back. The buses are clean and comfortable, although the curvy mountains roads caused the kid next to me to vomit all over himself. Thanks for keeping it off of me, chaval!

You can find more information about Paca and Tola here and, if you’re so inclined, vote on which one will get knocked up first.

Location of the Hike’s Start on our Map

spooky stairs
spanischer friedhof
spanish flower lady
farming tools
drying asturias
jahr asturias
sidra fria
trubia
hiking break
nature asturias
asturias nature photographer
modern art asturias
crazy wasle
froggy
Asturian Cow
berries asturias
bear walk
hiking spain
Tunnels osos
wandern asturien
climbing asturias
clouds asturias
oso walk
Asturian Village

Hiking in Spain


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August 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm Comments (13)

El Descenso del Sella

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Entering 80 years of history, the International Descenso del Sella has become one of the most important events on the Asturian calendar. Over 300,000 people showed up to watch this year’s canoe and kayak race and participate in a week full of parties.

Of course, we had to go, especially since the train ride cost just €10. We stayed on the train through Arriondas, where the race starts, and followed the river twenty kilometers to its end in seaside Ribadesella. All along the route, we looked out the window at campsites and drunk, sunburnt party people. At the Arriondas stop, a group of hilariously hung-over teenagers boarded and all instantly, simultaneously fell asleep. Watching the increasingly frustrated ticket-checker try futiley to rouse them was great fun.

We managed to claim great spots along the riverbed to watch end of the race. The athletes, mostly muscle-bound Spaniards, rowed swiftly past the finish line and it was all over far too quickly. But the race is really just an excuse for the week-long party that grips the region. Music, festival rides, food stands and above all, alcohol. Cider, beer, vomit, whiskey, dancing, vodka, public urination, followed by more vodka and vomit. The Descenso del Sella simply must be the coolest canoe race in the world.

Location on our Asturias Map

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August 9, 2010 at 11:59 am Comments (2)
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