Benavente is a hub from Madrid to the North-west of Spain. We stopped there to have lunch and visit the city. The church of San Juan del Mercado has nice sculptures and an astonishing Picasso looking fragment of El Mesias y el Dragón, dated S. XVI, of Gothic style and attributed to Lorenzo de Avila. There was a funeral in Santa María de Azogue, so we did not spend much time in there but could marvel at its canecillos. The Hospital de la Piedad is now a residence for old people, of which you can visit the patio. In it, as we were checking the white storks nesting, we met with someone asking us for some money, which is now current in Spain but not from a resident from a nursing home care. So we gave him a coin and even more surprised that we had been, swiftly hoofed out of the premises. As we went round the patio, we noticed a janitor calling for someone, possibly our earlier encounter went for an unauthorized cat. We left promptly just as our new friend had before before putting him and ourselves in troubles. As for food, Elena went for mejillones which, a la plancha, were excellent and we now cook them like this, and I had an ear of the pig. We concluded our tour of Benavente with a coffee in the parador nacional, which allows to relax in historical buildings turned into luxury hotels, at a modest price (at least as far as the coffee is concerned).
Possibly a scene of Gethsemane.
Inside, this XVI century fresco you would not be surprised to find in Guernica.
Currently a parador, in which you can enjoy a coffee.
We spent two nights in a spa resort (a christmas gift): La Aldea Soñada del Angliru. This used to be an old village, more probably an hamlet, that got abandoned. A descendant of one family then acquired most of it at ruins' price and turned it into an ecotourism complex. It is a nice place, particularly since it is more rural than it is luxurious, with great surroundings and outstanding views of the mountain and valley in front. The access by car is dreadful, with the steepest and narrowest roads we have ever circulated. The area is cherished for this reason by bike enthusiasts and professional cyclists. It seems however from all the work that is being underway there that it will dangerously grow in size, and make the peace and comfort of the area difficult to keep to the same standard. The food they serve (in the room itself, we were in el Sol by the way, with a dubious but finally pleasant decoration) was of surprising quality, as we suspected we would be overcharged for basic cooking. Prices were okay but the food turned out to be great, so it was all very enjoyable. The cook, young, proud and with hair gel, appeared to be a conscientious professional taking care of his work. The village down the valley, la Vega, had an horrible kitsch digital chime flooding with its artificial and out-of-place music the whole area up to the mountains. The program was othewise to walk, visit nearby places, a tour at the sauna for me and a massage for Elena, which she did not enjoy so much as it happened to be of this type which is relaxing only when it stops. They provided videos for free and we visioned Álex de la Iglesia's Las brujas de Zugarramurdi, a great and fun movie.
On our way towards Los Tornos, we stopped at Santa Cristina de Lena, a pre-Romanesque church, with a few particularities for the experts of this architecture. We met the family (Inma and Julio) in Moreda, while driving. They brought us to a wasteland used by locals as a parking and planned to bring us to El puerto de San Isidro (Puertu Braña in Asturiano). We ate at Felechosa, which is the last village before the mountain. Here we had an unforgettable Pote Asturiano, which was all the more tasty as it was ridiculously cheap (of the order of 10€ the menu with wine, dessert, coffee and a started in addition to the delicacy itself, which was in plentiful proportion). The Puerto de San Isidro was virtually devoid of living souls. The parking was empty when we arrived. It was a cloudy day, which is however normal in Asturias. I went up to the Lago del Ausente which was a bit too tough for a pregnant woman and soon to be abuelos, who stopped at the last ascending step. The lake was crystal clear and inviting for a swim, which time did not allow, however.
On the next day, after a rest in the little house of los Tornos, we started to tour Asturias again. We visited Turón in the morning, which has little interest by itself but is where Elena spent her first years after her parents migrated from Cadiz to Asturias. We stopped by the two houses, of which Elena had some fragments of memories. Our main destination for the day was la playa de la Concha de Artedo, where we ate expensive but succulent fish (Inma had chipirones and the rest of us shared a fish for three, more than enough especially at the rate that is charged for fresh seafood). We stopped at Brieves, which has paneras that link to the houses through a little stone bridge. There was a village celebration and I bought a knife in the village market (Julio bought an ice-cream, Elena could not and got a glass of milk intead). Finally we had a cider in Salas, before walking around the village which has a few buildings of interest.