My last day in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias, had arrived. After a nice breakfast I checked out of the Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes Hotel and started driving through the mountains towards a village called Arriondas. On my schedule for this rather drizzly and cool day was a canoe run down the Sella River with an outdoor adventure company called Fronteraverde. When I arrived there before noon, Juan Feliz, the owner, informed me that a big group had already left to go down the river. The prospect of staying dry on this clammy day seemed rather exciting, so Juan and I started working on an alternate program for today.
Juan Feliz, my expert for the Picos de Europa region
Juan and his father started Fronteraverde together in 1999 after Juan graduated from a business degree in Oviedo. Asturias calls itself “Nature’s Paradise”, and Juan strives to introduce travelers from all over the world to the outdoor opportunities in the Picos de Europa mountain region. Fronteraverde offers canoe trips on the Sella River, hiking, caving, canyoning, and multi-adventure programs that are geared towards specific target groups, such as school field trips, bachelor parties or corporate team building events. He also connects travelers with local lodging providers to give them the best deals on accommodation.
My hotel for the next two nights: Hotel La Cepada
Since Juan has grown up in this area he has indepth knowledge of local attractions and places to visit. So we started to work on an alternate independent sightseeing program for me and he suggested that I explore the main town of Cangas de Onís, the historic village of Covadonga and the nearby mountain lakes Enol and Ercina which are jointly called the Lagos de Covadonga.
View of Cangas de Onís, from the Hotel La Cepada
I thanked Juan for his suggestions and started my drive to Cangas de Onís where I checked into my hotel for the next two days, the Hotel La Cepada, which has a great hillside location. As a small mountain town of about 6,700 people, Cangas de Onís has huge historical significance as the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias and was established in 722 AD after the first major victory by a Christian military following the Islamic conquest. This watershed event started the Reconquista, the Christian recapturing of Spain from the Moors.
Great terrace with a view at the Hotel La Cepada
Built in 2001, the Hotel La Cepada has a gorgeous location above the village of Cangas and all the hotel rooms have large picture windows that provide gorgeous views over the town. Outside a huge terrace with table service invites guests to sit down and enjoy the superb vistas of Cangas de Onís and the Sella River Valley. The reception area features elegant sofas for guests to relax and a library area.
José Manuel, the owner of Hotel La Cepada
Even on this grey and drizzly day the views from my hotel room were phenomenal. My elegant room was appointed with a king size bed, a practical desk and working area, a mini-bar, satellite television, music and free Internet access. This would be a great base for the next couple of days to explore the Picos de Europa mountain region.
My hotel was located on a hill, with a great view over the town
I briefly met José Manuel, the owner and general manager of La Cepada and asked him for some advice on where to go for lunch in Cangas de Onís and he recommended a wine bar called El Palco which is run by his wife. So I drove down into the village, parked the car and crossed the River Sella on a wooden bridge. Cangas is a small mountain town that is the regional tourism hub for people visiting the Picos de Europa National Park.
View of the Sella River in the heart of Cangas de Onís
Vinateria El Palco is right in the heart of Cangas and serves a selection of more than 200 wines, typical Spanish tapas featuring different cheeses and meats, several varieties of toasts and succulent skewers of meat and fish with ingredients from local production. I chose a vegetable toast with gratinated goat cheese, followed by favada, the hearty Asturian bean stew.
Vinateria El Palco
After this delicious lunch I had to head back to the hotel to grab my umbrella because it had started to rain now. Now properly equipped for this weather, I set off on this afternoon’s excursions. My destination was the tiny village of Covadonga, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Asturias.
My delicous lunch at Vinateria El Palco