I’ve discovered paradise, and its name is Llanes (as long as you’re not a vegetarian, but I’ll get to that in my next post). The Asturian coast of Spain is incredibly beautiful and I found myself completely spellbound by the town of Llanes. This post was going to be part of a larger description of my travels through northern Spain, but it demands its own post for the photos alone. To start with, here is the view from the window of my very low budget pension in the historic city center:
|Can't beat this view!|
|View at sunrise|
After a brief stroll around the historic part of town and the port, I head off to a local park where there is a paseo (walking trail). It starts off as a public park with benches and viewpoints and I assume it will just go the length of town. Then it gets a little more rugged as it continues to hug the coast line which is a never ending series of dramatic jagged cliffs. At some point I decide to look up the Paseo de San Pedro on my phone and realize that the trail is 15 kilometers (30 km roundtrip) which is a bit much to complete all in one evening. Each view is more stunning than the next though, so I continue on for a while, finding blackberries along the way of course. Part of what makes this hike so amazing is that there is a dramatic coastline on one side of me and a perfect view of the Picos de Europa mountain range on the other. The two photos below were taken no more than 25 feet apart, facing opposing directions!
|Facing the sea. Wait, am I in Ireland or Spain?|
|Same spot facing the mountains.|
The valley between the coast and the mountains is dotted by little towns and farms where cows and sheep graze. At one point, I am treated to a chorus of cow (or maybe sheep) bells in the distance that is truly musical. Eventually I reach a side trail to a little beach cove and walk down to the beach to cool off. The low angle of the sun in the sky is the only motivation I have to turn around. Finally as the sun drops behind one of the cliffs protecting the beach I can’t put it off any longer and I turn back to Llanes. I’m just as delighted by the views on the way back, which are all new when viewed from the opposite direction.
The following day I head off on another paseo along the river. In any other town, I would probably have found this walk charming, but after yesterday’s hike I find it boring, and quickly abandon it for a different paseo along the coastline in the opposite direction of the Paseo de San Pedro. This one is shorter, but importantly leads to the prettiest of the three Llanes town beaches. Along the way I find this overlook and after climbing out to it am delighted to watch several schools of fish down below. The water is blue/green and so clear that I can see everything. I think I actually witnessed a school of large fish in a feeding frenzy amongst a very large school of small fish. They were all getting pretty jostled around by the surf against the cliff wall though, so it was hard to tell.
|Don't worry mom, this natural bridge was not nearly as high as the one in Sedona. |
And like the one in Sedona, it was wider than it looks.
|One fish, two fish. Hungry fish, happy fish.|
After hanging out at the beautiful Playa de Toro for a little while, I backtrack to one of the other beaches where the surf is gentler to take a dip. I have never swum in an ocean beach with water this clear! This beach is alive and I can watch all matter of sea life as I swim around. There are little crabs scrambling around on the rocks and several varieties of seaweed and small fish swimming below me. The water is just a beautifully blue/green up close. Interestingly, the entire region is also infused with a subtle floral scent. It was persistent on my hike the day before and even while I’m swimming in the water, I smell the flowers rather the usual salty/fishy smell. Everything about this town just makes me happy and grateful to be here.
I had only planned for two days in Llanes, and I’m tempted to extend my stay. However, for once I’ve actually planned out my schedule for the next couple of weeks and have a reservation for a cave visit in Ribadesella on Sunday, so I decide not to rearrange my plans. Between the coastline and the Picos de Europa, which I won’t even enter on this trip, Asturias deserves its own dedicated trip. I’ll definitely be returning to Llanes to hike the full 15 kilometer Paseo de San Pedro in the future. Only next time, I’m coming with other people so we can rent an apartment with a kitchen!
|View from the port|