Picos 2011 Day 1: Arrivals
The route followed on this trip has been taken from ‘Walks and Climbs in the Picos de Europa’ By Robin Walker (pub. Cicerone).
Day 1: Arrivals.
The flight from Stansted departed within a few minutes of schedule. Almost fully loaded. Heading south the channel islands and the coast of France came in very little time. The snack trolley came past offering the incredible selection of cheese sandwich -hot OR cold!
The flight landed right on time and the baggage appeared shortly after. Aeropuerto de Asturias isn’t close to any major city but, as the taxi driver told me on my way back there, it has much less mist than anywhere else in the region. Outside the terminal (and to the right) there is a small coach stop from where you can go to Oviedo and the other Asturian cities.
The woman who was sat next to me was also waiting for the same bus. We got to chatting and she told me she was returning home after a month of (mostly unsuccessfully) trying to find work in London. She’d bought a box of cakes as presents, they’d got mostly crushed in the journey. “Would you like a banana?” she asked. “No thank you” I replied. “Would you like a kiss?” I looked up surprised. “Cookies?” She repeated, holding out a packet of biscuits. Smiling, I took a slightly crushed bourbon cream.
In little time we arrived at Oviedo’s main coach station. My Oviedan friend had received bad news about her grandfather on the coach so she went to buy a ticket for Salamanca to visit him in his sick bed. I bought my ticket to Cangas de Onis from the machine and went off in search of a beer and food. Across the road I think I found the street where the small bus station was years ago, though there was no sign.
Travelling east from Oviedo the green montes give way to grey montañas. When I was 40 minutes from Cangas de Onis the views just kept getting better and better. I rearranged the various bits of travel information in my small bag and found my hotel reservation. Hotel Monteverde C/ Ramon Prada, Cangas. I’d been to Cangas before and knew it wasn’t a very big town (though technically, not a very big City -for historical reasons) Out of the bus station and over the bridge towards town and the first building on the first corner, Hotel Monteverde. Dead easy. I booked in and dropped my pack. After changing from boots to sandals I set off to look around.
The town was quite busy as it was early evening in the summer holidays, the bars busy with tourists eating tapas and watching the spectacle of the local Sidra (cider) being poured (with varying levels of accuracy) from a height into their waiting glasses and onto the floor.
My main task in Cangas was to buy some fuel for my MSR multi fuel stove. It’ll run on most flammable hydrocarbons with exception of alcohol -which can damage some of the parts. On the main shopping street I found a mountain sports shop, still open and with a similar stove on display in the window. Fantastic! I thought. That was easy. I went in and asked and they didn’t sell any kind of liquid fuel! Did they know anywhere that did? No. But the hardware store (closed until the morning) might do! Helpful eh?
I left the shop and went in search of a supermarket to get a few provisions and to see what flammables they had. In the local supermarket I bought a chorizo (extra picante) and a large chunk of cheese (semi curado). Couldn’t find any likely fuels though. (On my return to the UK I checked in my local Morrison’s. They had White spirit and Kerosene -both of which would have worked).
Dinner time was fast approaching (ie it was nearly 10pm, crazy Spanish) so I went in search of sustenance. Restaurante Abuelo was around the corner from my hotel. The food looked and smelled good and the ‘Menu del Dia’ was about €13. A bottle of beer (I think it was Mahou) and Fabada were the start of my meal. Fabada is the local speciality. A white bean stew with belly pork, chorizo and black pudding. It is to be recommended. (See Rick Stein’s Spain program for more detail!) The main course was a disappointment, Merluza con Patatas (Hake and potatoes). The fish was small and none too crispy and the potatoes were boiled. I was hoping for chips. Dessert was flan (or Creme caramel to French speaking Brits!).