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Llanes to Llanes: May 21, 2022 121.31 Miles Walked
It’s OK to Be Lazy
We’ve put in the miles this trip by averaging 12ish miles a day. We were more tired than normal after yesterday’s relatively easy walk and needed some rest. Instead of going crazy today, we opted to take it easy. We took the morning off and just hung out at the hotel so Pam could look up some things to do in Madrid and I was able to write more of the story.
In additional to a hike guide and maps, the Pura Aventura folks had us use WikiLoc, an app that shows where you are through your phone GPS on the trail. It’s kind of like social media except for hiking/biking/running. Note that Pura Aventura posted their trails privately and we used their account to access them. They do that because their custom hikes are how they make their money. People can post their own trails publicly on WikiLoc, so I found an easy one that took us east from Llanes that looked like it hugged the coast hard, did a little bit through some woods, and back through the town of Cué. The Camino Norte goes a different route so thought it might be quieter. We could intersect the trail a mile outside of town so that gave us a chance to walk through the main part of Llanes.
Walking through town around noon we could not figure out why everything was so busy, but that’s what happens on a Saturday. You know the vacation is good when you both don’t realize what day it is. We caught the trail in Cué and it was a walk through fields as there was no trail which is exactly what we wanted. I haven’t found out a definitive answer, but I think Spain is like England in that walking through farmer’s pastures is allowed because people have had that right for hundreds of years. If you keep any gates closed and don’t knock down any temporary fences used to keep grazers in the appropriate area, it’s a fine system.
Because there are no trails, we got to deal with the sticker bushes and that was a bit challenging. Spain has these nasty knee high bushes that grow quickly when there’s no grazing. They are covered with long thorns and grow dense so if you walked in a bunch with long pants, you’d have shorts on the other side. Not to mention what would happen to your skin. Of course, they have the usual blackberry/raspberry stickler vines that grow all over the world as well. Between some of the fields today, it was thorn city so getting between them was sometimes a challenge. We’d eventually find a hole, but them it was limbo and twister time to keep from being held hostage by hold-em-ups.
Up ahead of us on one spit of coast was another couple sitting near the edge. Since there was no trail, we walked through the middle of the field to let them have their peace. When we waved at them, the lady vigorously waved us over When we got close enough to hear over the breeze, she yelled we needed to try a restaurant near Llanes that got a Michelin star as it’s only 80 Euros per person. My guess is that’s she’s the mother of the head chief and is just super proud.
We poked along until we got to the first beach, Playa de Antilles, and set to explore it. The tide has a high range here and at high tide the beach is covered. With the limestone, there’s a lot of cliffs with caves and it was low tide, so Pam wanted to look for tide pools. There were limpets aplenty and a crab or two, but no tide pools. At least Pam got her beach time. We bumped into the couple with the dinner recommendation from earlier and the lady told us that the small hotel and bar above the beach has an excellent lunch at only 15 Euros per person. Did we look that famished and weak from all the hiking?
After our small walk and showers, we wanted to walk around Llanes so we could see this cute town. We meandered around looking at the shops, especially the food shops. Several of them had whole ham legs for sale and lots of great looking cheeses and meats. It helped prepare our appetite.
This is still a fishing town, so we looked all over the town pier and the breakwater, where they have put a nice walking path on top. To protect the breakwater, they have these gigantic 6 foot square concrete blocks that each weigh 60 tons tossed in front. They extend up 20-30 feet high because in the winter they get some good storms off the Cantabrian Sea. Instead of having just boring, giant, concrete blocks, they had the Basque artist Agustin Ibarrolacreate a work of art out of them, called Cubes (confusingly, the town called the work The Cubes of Memory). The designs are geometric and abstract figures. I’d strongly encourage you to look at the pictures on the two previous links, because they look fantastic in the sunshine. Also, they are pictures when the work was fresh and bright in 2003. We had a cloudy day, and they still looked awesome. I really loved the whole idea of the work and its size and construct reminded me a lot of the huge works you can see at Storm King in upstate New York. Big art makes me happy.
Tonight, it was Pam’s time to pick the dinner restaurant and after we’d been sitting at our table for 30 minutes, she realized it was diagonally across the square from where we were sitting. That gave us more to watch because we got to see the Americans and Brits trying to go into a closed restaurant. Since the restaurant, Sidreria El Antoju, does not take reservations, we were curious if a line would form. At 7:20, an older British or Americana couple tried to go in, but opening time was at 8:00. They stood outside the restaurant furiously scrolling on their phones and looking at the menu board. We got a kick out of watching them because they were so focused on their phones for 40 minutes. After we walked in at opening time, they were sitting behind us and, sure enough, the dulcet tones of an American accent filtered in from their table.
The head waiter at the restaurant was efficient, but brisk. Even though I asked for a table in Spanish, he responded in English and brought us English menus directly. He just assumes that anyone there before 9:00 PM is a native English speaker. The only other people sitting were Spanish families with babies or very young children. They can be excused for being early eaters.
To start, I went for the half the anchovies first plate, and they were glorious! American anchovies are very salty, but these are not. Pam opted for the traditional Asturian fabada, a bean dish with pork and beef in it. She ordered the ½ order, but it was still big enough for two people and super tasty. We couldn’t imagine what army the full order would feed. For the main course, I opted for the “Grandma’s plate”, which is what you’d expect an Asturian grandmother to serve, fried eggs, fried thin sliced ham, chorizo, and fried potatoes. Pam was in a seafood mood, so she saw the “scallops with cabrales.” She hasn’t had scallops in a long time and was looking forward to more of that cabrales, the creamy, slightly blue cheese tasting cheese we had with Pepin a few days ago. We should have known that something was up when “scallops with cabrales” was under the meats section of the menu. We got played by the English menu! It was veal scallopini and it was drenched in a very heavy blue cheese sauce. The kind of strong blue cheese that grows hair on your chest. I should have asked for the Spanish language menu and felt bad for Pam that she didn’t get her scallops. We’ll have to fix that here in Spain if we can or get her some when we get home.
The restaurant was packed by the time we finished, so I got my chupito back at the hotel. I know all of you wonderful readers can only sleep knowing I had my aguardiente fix. We called it an early night because we had to pack up as we are leaving beautiful Asturias and heading to Madrid tomorrow.