What can I say about Asturias, Spain to convince you to visit? Let’s not pull any punches…that is the goal of this article. Why? It’s pretty simple. Asturias is incredible and a real hidden gem from most people who don’t live in Spain. While I don’t entirely want to change that (the undiscovered less touristy beauty is part of it’s charm, after all), I wouldn’t be doing my job spreading the good word about craft alcohol if I didn’t convince you to put Asturias on your must-visit list! So let’s take a little photo journey through my recent two-week immersion in this magical place, shall we? I’ll give you an overview of my top reasons for falling in love with this region and then in our upcoming article and video series we’ll be diving deep into the Asturian culture of sidra. And trust me, you don’t want to miss that.
The People of Asturias
First, the people. I mean, honestly…isn’t this true of any place you fall in love with? It’s hard to fall for a region or culture when the people aren’t great. Now, to be fair since most of the tourists in Asturias are from other parts of Spain there is not a lot of English spoken here. It’s often easy to mistake language difficulty with rudeness, so be careful with this! But as long as you try and use your trusty Google Translate app (download the language while on wifi so you can use it offline too) and don’t expect them to conform to you and your culture you’ll be just fine. I promise.
I wouldn’t be doing my job spreading the good word about craft alcohol if I didn’t convince you to put Asturias on your must-visit list!
Once you get past this you’ll start to realize that the people of Asturias are incredibly proud of their culture and are thrilled that you are there and taking an interest. Especially since they don’t see a ton of tourists from outside of Spain. At times, it can go so far as making you feel downright special. So whatever your interest is – go for it. Go deep. Ask the questions, struggle through the language barrier. Show enthusiasm with your gestures and facial expressions. It’s amazing how far that goes….
All of a sudden you’ll find yourself, like I did, being whisked away by the owner of the incredible restaurant you just had lunch at to follow him back to his home cider mill. Simply because he could see and feel my enthusiasm about cider, especially with his incredible seafood. So he struggled with me through my 6th-grade level Spanish to insist on bringing my friends and I back to his home cider-press to see what a true family cider operation (kind of like home brewing but on a much larger scale…because they drink A LOT of cider here!) is and to try the cider for ourselves. Seriously. This happened.
Or, you’ll find someone local that you connected with on social media through a common interest (ahem – cider again for me!) spending a full 8 hours with you. Driving you to a cider house for a personal tour and amazing meal, taking you out to a local wine bar, craft beer shop and teaching you all about the culture and food. Or you’ll find SO many people from Asturias reaching out to you on social media simply because you’re posting about their fabulous home. Giving you tips, telling you beers to try, and even just thanking you for loving their home as much as it appears you do. Complete strangers finding my posts through hashtags and feeling compelled enough to say hello and connect.
Those are Asturians in a nutshell. Passionate, informed, gracious, and excited to share their story with you.
A server at a restaurant I tagged as my location even reached out via messager saying he wished that I had introduced myself and told him I was from the US so he could have shown me some local siderieas and ensured I had the best food while there. And then insisting that I connect with him if I ever return so he can show my friends and I his town. Those are Asturians in a nutshell. Passionate, informed, gracious, and excited to share their story with you.
The Beauty of Asturias
Next up we have gorgeously rustic, untouched beauty. There are big cities in Asturias. It is modern and developed. Yet it also feels like you have stepped back in time. In the best way possible. Farm houses dotting rolling green hills in the most consistently breathtaking landscape I have seen in a very long time.
Steep cliffs crashing into the ocean with rocky outcroppings lining the seascape. Urban hikes that take you from city to beach to rural walkways to grassy park overlooks in just a few hours.
Giant legs of Jamón Ibérico hanging in every grocery store, bar and market no matter how casual or fancy. House made vermouth, served with olives and oranges in it (seriously so good!), that is better than most vermouths you’ve ever had.
House made vermouth, served with olives and oranges in it…
And the fact that almost every drink you order comes served with a little yummy bite. And yes – I count all of this as part of the beauty of a place! Are you surprised? It’s not just about nature, people!
Casual chic women and men strolling along the town or city’s walkway each night talking, laughing and taking their time on their way to wherever they’re going. Wherever the night takes them. Pure, simple enjoyment of sitting on a seaside wall drinking bottle after bottle of cheap (but delicious!) cider outside with friends for a large part of your Friday or Saturday night. And that being enough. Introducing Transito de Las Ballenas in Gijón!
Adorable little seaside towns that feel so steeped in history yet are quaint and approachable for what the modern tourist wants out of their beach vacation. I’m looking at you Llanes!
All of these things harken back to a time when life was more simple. More connected, more present, more beautiful. It just makes you feel like this is a region that is living life right. Not that any of us are doing it wrong, but man…I want my life to be just a little more like this. I say as I instagrammed every moment of this in real time and walked 10x faster than everyone strolling and truly connecting with others. #american #progressnotperfection
The Cider of Asturias
Ok last, but CERTAINLY not least…and we’re going to go deep on this in a whole separate series…is the cider culture. Ok, ok, I’m a little biased given I clearly love craft alcohol and have built my whole career and life around it. But I’ve traveled to a lot of places and researched a lot of craft alcohol and this is so unique and so fun and so delicious that it’s honestly one of my favorite craft alcohol experiences to date. So the short version is (you’ll have to come back for the future videos and articles!) that cider, or sidra, is a deeply ingrained part of Asturian culture.
…it’s honestly one of my favorite craft alcohol experiences to date.
Everyone is drinking it, pouring it, making it…everywhere. This is not the cider you’re thinking of at home. There is a very specific way to pour it, drink it and at times…even buy and share it with friends. But honestly you feel like you’re kind of on another planet at first. And then you start to understand it, appreciate it and become obsessed with it. Ok, that last part may just be me. I’ll be honest, some of the traditions take some getting used to. Some of them you may not like at first. But as you embrace it as a cultural experience it enhances every other part of your meal and visit. And you leave feeling like you’re just the teensiest bit Asturian. And trust me, you want to be Asturian.
So c’mon! What are you waiting for? Let’s go to Asturias! No room in your travel plans just yet? Well lucky for you if you join us in our upcoming article and video series you’ll get to visit virtually through the wild, delicious world of Asturian Sidra. I can’t WAIT to share it with all of you…