Not ones to hang about, our first morning in Asturias saw us catch a bus out of our base of Gijon up through the mountains past fields of apples and cows and dispersed with streams and tree-lined hillsides. Our destination was the town of Villaviciosa, a peaceful and picturesque town surrounded by mountains, river valleys and private farms.
We happened to stumble upon an opportunity for a visit to one of these nearby farms, and obviously snapped it up immediately. We hopped out of the taxi (no chance of a bus up here!) and found ourselves quite literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by beautiful scenes of rolling green hills, corn crops and to our right a field of farmyard animals. Whilst waiting for the farmer’s wife to come meet and greet us we went for a closer look and made friends with a pig who we later discovered was named Mou. This pig was of the Asturian variety which makes chorizo, however Mou was kept as a pet. He was huge in size (bigger than the calves he was snuggling with) but even bigger in personality… a true diva, dominating the pen along with the goats and cows in it, and even had the humans wrapped around his little trotter.
Next was the farm visit which included an interesting demonstration of how they make their cheese. Then it was on to a tasting of the finished product… goats cheese (made from the goats we met previously), cheese with paprika, cheese soaked in cider (typically Asturian!) and a blue cheese similar to the famous Cabrales Cheese of the area.
We also tasted some rice pudding which wasn’t my cup of tea, but Gala bought a pot which a fugitive goat tried to steal after escaping from his pen (very ironic as it was made out of his milk!).
Back in Villaviciosa we had just as much fun, though the farmyard animals that we had been surrounded by were replaced by our usual companions… old Spanish men! This experience was even more exaggerated than usual. Two blonde English girls in a bar with twenty or so old Spaniards drinking, chatting and playing cards… what a sight!
With fifteen minutes left before our bus departed back to the city, we realised that we had not yet tasted the famous local cider. Very stubborn and determined to try everything, we walked in to a bar, ordered a bottle of cider, shotted a few small glasses and left with the remainder of the bottle in hand. I think it was safe to say that the stereotype of the English drinking culture must have been confirmed for our fellow bus passengers! But the proper cider trail is for tomorrow… until then!