Touristic Blog of Asturias
5 must experiences to feel like an Asturian
26 feb

Have you ever wondered what experiences are essential to feel like a true Asturian? There must be many, both personal and non-transferable, but here are five for you to start acting like an Asturian, having a good time and taking a dip into the way of life, customs and traditions of Asturias and some of the settings that mark the essence of what it is to be an Asturian.

A number of experiences could not be left out of this brief guide to asturianía.True, it does not contain them all (the guide is ‘to be continued’), but to start our tutorial on becoming an Asturian, we have made a careful selection of five achievements or experiences that will make you feel like a fish in water in the multiverse of Asturian essences.
 


 

It’s never too late to pour cider from a height

 

That’s right. It’s never too late if the cider is good. It’s never too late to learn how to pour natural cider, and there’s always a chance to do so.Of course, it’s best to do it in Asturias, under the attentive supervision and advice of a specialist in the matter… an abundant breed in this Natural Paradise!

Pouring cider from a height (escanciar) is a playful/fun exercise that requires a mixture of ability, balance, enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed, in addition to knowledge of the product and the technique. But do not panic! All this is acquired by frequenting "chigres" (cider bars), cider taverns, cider mills, outdoor bars, the Cider Museum, or a farmstead in some hamlet in Asturias… The places where you can soak up the science and art of pouring cider from a height proliferate, almost like the mountains and valleys of Asturias, or like the apple orchards and their fruit.

In the end, by putting yourself in the shoes of a cider pourer (un escanciador), youcome to get an in-depth knowledge of Asturias in a merry way, through conversations, "cancios" (cider tavern songs, tonada ballads, etc.), in a festive environment –especially that of an "espicha" (an informal stand-up buffet-cum-party usually held in a cider mill). -.

It’s never too late to learn how to pour cider from a height… and any time is right. You have to try it!

Pouring natural (still) cider from a height
 

Walking in clogs is not so difficult!

 

Some of the most outstanding memories of childhood in Asturias include the sight of villagers in their clogs (madreñas) or of groups of folk dancers parading or dancing in clogs, or of the wooden shoe exhibitions in the folk museums… Without a doubt, madreñas area different, striking and colourful element. Madreñas embody practical common sense, ever necessary in the Asturian countryside, as well as artistic zeal in their decorations and shapes.

Who has not been tempted to put on a pair of clogs to walk the lanes of any little village? It seems more difficult than it is, although learning does require some skill and leads to mishap or two. Nothing perilous, though! Pure fun that puts your senses and rural instinct to the test.Learning to walk in madreñas assures you a good time while immersing yourself in village life...an adventure you will carry away with you forever in your traveller’s knapsack.

Asturian clogs or madreñas

Learning to make knives… or the practicalities of life

 

It is well known that Asturias is the kingdom of water mills and iron, especially the western part of the region. Taramundi and Los Oscos boast an ancestral tradition of handcrafted knives that makes them an especially attractive area for tourists and crafts. Thelive-demonstration workshops there, where knifemakers display all the secrets of their trade, are part of the daily life of the villages in the area. Therefore, it is certainly not ludicrous to go to these parts as a tourist and end up becoming a true specialist in the art of knife-making.

The handcrafted knives of western Asturias are unique in the world for the way they are made. They bear the signs of effort, tradition, art and love of the landetched in their making. They also combine all these qualities with the practicalities of life –as occurs with clogs– as they are very useful for any activity in the hills, by the river or on the coast,be it a picnic, fishing, trekking in the woods or whatever else you may be doing.

The craft of knife-making is typical to western Asturias

Go to Covadonga and the Lakes… and feel like King Pelayo

 

There are many songs, poems and works of art in which Covadonga appears as what it truly is: the origin of the Asturian identity. Whether portrayed in a novel or described with historical rigour, above and beyond its incredible natural surroundings, Covadonga and what it symbolizes constitute an essential journey deep into the Asturian soul. Memories, occasions and anecdotes are counted by the thousands… everyone has experienced something good –or very good– at Covadonga. It is certainly a place with an aura, where the Earth’s forces can be perceived in their purest form.

Gazing up at Mount Auseva, the grotto, the river, the woods, the Picos de Europa from Covadonga begets an indescribable feeling. For history lovers, it is a sort of exciting return to the heart of the European Middle Ages, allowing them to feel like King Pelayo (Pelagius), the first king of the Asturian Monarchy…

To round off the most Asturian excursion, after the visit to Covadonga, you must go up to Los Lagos (The Lakes) and put yourself in the skin of a Picos de Europa shepherd, or in that of the mountaineers and potholers who have explored this colossal limestone range for hundreds of years, or in that of one of the cyclists that have carried out tremendous sporting feats, or in that of the travellers from all climes who have been fascinated by this scenery…

Covadonga, the origin of the Asturian identity

If you're lucky… you'll see a brown bear

 

The brown bear is one of the wildlife gems that Asturias conserves like an authentic "treasure". Lands such as those of Teverga, Somiedo and Cangas del Narcea are important bear reserves in Asturias. These are places where it is possible –at the right time of year, with luck and a good guide– to sight this species and see it in action in its daily life. What a thrill!

On the other hand, whether or not you come across any brown bears, it is still marvellous to simply enjoy the scenery, the ecosystem and follow their trail, hoping that the desired meeting occurs...

And at the end of a nature-lover’s day, a good rest, enjoying the company, the fine cooking and the hospitality of Asturians. You cannot ask for more!

Cantabrian brown bear

Feel like an Asturian! You won’t regret it!

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