Having fallen in love with Cantabria last summer, we were itching to explore more of Northern Spain. First came a press trip to the wonderful region of Aragon in the northeast with more recently a family holiday to Asturias. Situated between Galicia in the west, Cantabria in the East and Castilla-Leon in the South, the Principality of Asturias is known for its breathtaking landscapes, spectacular beaches and mouth-watering cuisine.
Our base for the two weeks having travelled over via cruise ferry was a cottage in the small village of Sierra del Sueve. It boasted views of the lush green Ponga National Park and our neighbours were cows in the adjoining meadow. The nearby town of Arriondas was great for supplies with a large supermarket open Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, the best place for fresh food was the Cangas de Onis market “El Mercau” which is less than ten kilometres away and said to be over 200 years old.
It takes place in the arched Palacio Pintu area which is near the Church of Santa Maria. There’s a hubbub of activity with stalls selling everything from meat, cheese and vegetables to bread, honey and fruit. There are even stallholders peddling clothing, trainers and accessories along the nearby streets. Popular with the Spanish locals, we discovered (the hard way!) it pays to arrive in Cangas de Onis by 10am on market day. It’s much easier to find parking as it’s not so busy.
Cangas de Onis is a pretty little town and there’s a great atmosphere on market day – quieter but still lovely on other days. We had a superb meal at El Oventense where we also got to see how cider (sidre) is poured. In Asturias, it’s always served escanciada which means it is poured into a glass from a great height. Only a little is poured into a glass at any one time to maintain freshness although it’s downed in one go, the remnants thrown on the floor. If you caught our Stories at the time, you would have seen six year old POD helping our waiter with the pouring before returning to her orange juice.
If you’re heading to Cangas de Onis, you mustn’t miss the 13th-century bridge which spans the Río Sella. Located just off Roman Road, the Puentón is recognised as a symbol of Asturias and was declared a historical artistic monument in 1931. While it is referred to as a Roman bridge, it was actually constructed in medieval times during the reign of Alfonso XI of Castile. A Cross of the Victory was placed beneath the centre of the arch in 1939 after the Civil War.
While the views from the top of the bridge are magnificent, the water beneath is crystal clear. Having thoroughly enjoyed swimming with the locals in Potes last year, POD was eager to get in the water. We didn’t have our costumes with us so she went wild swimming in Cangas de Onis half dressed but that’s much more fun, isn’t it. Besides, there’s a market selling women’s tops which can convert remarkably well into a child’s dress!