My last full day in Asturias had arrived. I had long wanted to travel to this northern Spanish mountain region, and my six days here had not been a disappointment. Over the last few days I had had a chance to visit some of the large cities in Asturias (Oviedo and Gijón), I had thoroughly explored the mountain regions in Teverga and the Picos de Europa, and yesterday I made my way to the coast to the beautiful waterfront towns of Ribadesella and Llanes.
A big breakfast buffet is waiting for me
At breakfast I discussed with my hosts, Lucas and Blanca from the Posada de Babel, what places I should visit today. Lucas recommended that I visit the coastline east of Llanes, the prehistoric cave El Pindal and the mountain village of Colombres whose special attraction is the “Museo de la Emigración” which documents various aspects of the huge waves of emigration that have taken place in Asturias between the 1850s and the 1950s.
Images of the coastline near Llanes
After a nice filling morning meal in the bright breakfast room, I got in my car and start driving eastwards on this slightly overcast day. I snaked my way along the coastline east of Llanes and stopped at various lookout points or drove down on narrow unpaved lanes towards some of the beaches. Playa Ballota was a very scenic but deserted beach with interesting rock formations. Only a ruined metal beach shack and a VW camper bus provided any clues of civilization. Most of the beaches were quite empty as the sun had not fully come out yet.
Interesting rock formations on the coastline east of Llanes
I briefly drove into the golf course in Llanes, one of the few golf courses in Asturias. This facility is located right on the Atlantic Ocean and reminded me of some courses in Scotland. It was quite busy on this Sunday morning. Golf has obviously become pretty popular in the north of Spain as well. Further along the coastline I turned off to the village of Andrín where I talk another narrow one-lane road to a lookout point over a scenic windswept beach.
The beach near Andrín
Back on the main road I saw several hikers walking on the shoulder and I realized that they were pilgrims who were walking on the Camino del Norte to Santiago de Compostela. Over the last few years pilgrimage travel has become very popular, particularly the Way of St. James, or “Camino de Santiago” in Spanish. The most popular pilgrimage route to Santiago is called “Camino Francés” and runs south of Asturias through cities such as Pamplona, Burgos and León while the Coastal Route snakes along the coastline of Asturias.
The main square of Colombres
As I turned inland, the sun came out and created the perfect backdrop for my excursion. I stopped in Colombres, a quaint mountain village of less than 1400 people. Colombres is most well known for the Museum of Emigration that is housed in a gorgeous villa called Quinta Guadalupe. During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century thousands of Asturians emigrated to Latin America to escape poverty and to create a new and hopefully better life for themselves.
The Quinta Guadalupe now houses the Museum of Emigration in Colombres
Many of these emigrants settled in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela. Cuba and Mexico were their most popular destinations, and there was also a sizeable Asturian community in Florida. Some of these emigrants became very wealthy and successful overseas, and many of these so-called “Indianos” returned back to Asturias to built impressive villas, the so-called “casas indianas” and other structures. Once returned, a palm tree on the front lawn would hint at their longing for the American soil.
Lavish details inside the Quinta Guadalupe
Quinta Guadalupe is a perfect example of a casa Indiana that was built by Don Iñigo Noriega Laso, a typical Indiano who had made a fortune in Mexico in the tobacco business. He returned to Colombres to build the palace-like Quinta Guadalupe, which was completed in 1906 and named after his wife, Doña Guadalupe Castro.
The interior balconies at the Museum of Emigration