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The Best of Northern Spain: Asturias and Cantabria


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Virtual Tour: Northern Spain and the Picos de Europa
asturias picture

Landscape of Asturias around the town of Infiesto, Spain

James Martin

What is the value of rural spaces like those found in Spain's Cantabria and Asturias regions? In modern times we tend to associate value with the raw materials we hastily yank from under places like you see in the photo. But if you work in the bustle of a modern city, who can put a price on the peace and solitude you might find in such a place?

The picture was taken in summer, a time of numerous warm thunderstorms in northern Spain. They came like clockwork every July afternoon, freshening the air while lowering and coloring the sky for great photography.

Certainly northern Spain is more than just a place to go when Rome is sweltering and Andalucia is buttoned up against the harsh sun. The world's most famous pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago, plies the northern coast, the Picos de Europa mountain range is pock-marked with caves still being discovered, and famous painted caves like the well-known Altamira (and the Museum) are near Santillana del Mar in Cantabria. Food traditions run as deep as the cultural continuity. Hard cider, cidra, is the drink of choice; Asturians consume 54 liters a year of the fermented apple juice.

But this slice of Spain isn't just about laying around and watching the thunderstorms move in. You can hike the Picos, photograph the unique wildlife, and walk the humpback Romanesque bridges along the pilgrimage trails. There's something for almost everyone. We'll explain as we move along in this slide show. The Picos are next, a tourist walk on the wild side.

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