Picos de Europa

IMG_6626Friday we continued west from The Catederals and a brief stop in the little fishing village of Rinlo along Spain’s Green Coast to “true Spain” – the province of Asturias, proud for her industry, rugged mountains, coasts and for turning the Moorish tide.   Our next HomeExchange in the pretty rivermouth town of Ribadesella will be our base for exploring the Picos de Europa, the Sella River and Asturia’s beaches.  We found our flat clean and well located, but less comfortable, with dated decor florescent lighting and a prison cell kitchen… bad juju for Chef Sue.  So out we went for a pleasant stroll among Spaniard tourists – few foreigners here.  The main street is lined with Cider restaurants and outfitters selling River Sella canoe trips and add-ons like parasailing, paintball and sea-doo outings.  We pop into a few to assess our options and decide that we’ll float the river after the weekend when crowds are lighter.

IMG_6631I picked Ribadesella for its proximity to the Picos de Europa, and this hot Saturday seems like a good time to climb up to cooler air.  We wind our way up along the River Sella to Arriondas and scout the put-in for tomorrow’s canoe descent, then continue up the road a few km to bustling little Cangas de Onis.  The Picos de Europa visitor’s center is closed, but a good topo display there confirms that we can drive up to a good trailhead from this eastern park IMG_6642entry.  Croissant in hand we cross the town’s pretty plazas and Roman bridge, but it’s getting hot, so we return to the Golf.  To avoid los mareos Sue takes the wheel, but quickly relinquishes it asIMG_6650 the curves, traffic and bovines are too road-cozy… stressful roads are Dad’s responsibility.  En route we pass proud and pretty little Covadonga, the site of Spain’s first victory against the advancing Moorish invasion.  

IMG_6666Up top it’s beautiful but exposed and hotter than we’d planned.  We camel-up with water then begin our loop hike through a historic mine and around a knoll that separates Lagos de Covadonga from Lago de la Ercina.  The cows here are healthy, horned, big and benign, so we weave through them to the west shore of Lago de la Ercina.  There we find a picnic spot beneath a craggy bluff’s sliver of shade.  Max deems Ben “The Goat Whisperer” as he engages in a “bleet” call and response with other kids scattered in the crags and crevices.  

IMG_6675After lunch we push on around the mountain: it’s not steep but the footing is irregular and the sun is too much for Sue and the boys, so we take breaks at the infrequent shady spots.  Tempers rise with the temperature and pretty soon Dad’s in the doghouse.  I coax the weary travelers on to Refugio Vega De Enol, where Max and Sue can cool down and hydrate up.  Ben and I finish the hike and return down a dirt road in the Golf to find their spirits lifted and all forgiven: Mother Nature’s wounds are best healed by Father Time.  

IMG_6681Back down in Ribadesella we put our feet up for a bit then leave the boys to their devices and sally out to sample Asturias Cider scene.  Here they ferment apples and make a big show of pouring the sour soda with outstretched arms – the longest pour wins.   They even have specially made splash guards to contain the overspray.  You buy a bottle but only the waiters can pour it for you.  They pour just a few ounces at a time and expect you to drink what’s poured immediately… presumably it tastes worse once the aeration has settled.  Or maybe that just creates more opportunities for showy pours.  Either way it’s entertaining but we prefer the Albariños and Verdugos, or a nice little Caña.    

After dinner we stroll out to the harbor’s end to catch a spectacular Atlantic Sunset.  Here near Summer Solstice the setting sun pours through the harbors gap, putting pretty Ribadesella in its best light… we hope you enjoy as we did:

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