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Travel in Asturias & Surrounding Areas

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Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Centerburg, Knox County, Ohio USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 4:52 pm    Post subject: Travel in Asturias & Surrounding Areas Reply with quote

My husband and I have finally decided to make our trip to Northern Spain. Very Happy Specifically to include Oviedo so I can see my grandparents' home area. Grandfather was from Santa Cruz de Aller and Gramdmother from Miguel de Quilare en Llordal. I am sure it will be quite different from when they left in 1902. (To avoid the wars.)

We toured southern Spain about 10 years ago and have traveled other countries as well, always with a tour group... specifically Tauck Tours which we truly enjoyed. However, Tauck's Northern Spain itinerary doesn't visit my family's "roots."

Here is my question for my Spanish friends: I saw a tour company online called Totally Spain which states they will put together whatever one wants; and specializes in northern Spain. I have a beginning outline of where we want to be. Are any of you familiar with this company?

My Spanish is very very poor and my husband is reticent to ".. take off for Europe like a couple of 18 year olds." (We cannot even remember 18.) He visited a very well-traveled friend today who has cautioned us not to travel alone even if we used excellent Spanish/Asturiano. That we would spend most of our time making arrangements, working through understandings and trying to get where we want to be than having a good trip. We certainly don't want a disaster vacation; but we don't want a structured tour taking us places we really don't care to see and not visiting the place which is the main reason for the adventure! We want to experience northern Spain, not spend a great amount of time on a tour bus.

I would appreciate comments regarding the tour company I mentioned, or others one might recommend in northern Spain. Please feel free to send me a personal message using a subject matter of Asturias/Oviedo so that I will open the mail. (I don't open e-mail if I don't know from whom it is coming.) Thank you to anyone who is willing to make a suggestion or comment.

I hope I am not misusing this forum with my personal questions. If I am, my apologies to all. I SO enjoy this site. Because of this forum I have learned so much of my heritage, recommended books I have read and information on so many levels. Thank you to the moderators and translators!
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4479
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, a trip to Asturias sounds like a great idea!

There are businesses in Asturias that will help you plan a vacation. Perhaps our members can recommend some.

One service that you may find interesting is www.waytospain.com. I've never met the family but I have emailed them in the past. They speak very good English (the husband is American) and seem to know Asturias well.

I'm wondering, though, if your fears about not going with a group are justified. Many of us have travelled on our own and enjoyed ourselves. On my first trip to Spain, my wife had 1/2 year of Spanish and I had about 1 1/2 years of college Spanish, I think. On the first day we had trouble asking for a room at a pension and didn't understand the menu in restaurants. Big deal. It was still wonderful.

Besides, it's not like you'd be going to another planet. A high percentage of young Spaniards have studied English and can speak it quite well. Plus, I think you'll find that Asturians tend to be exceptionally friendly and helpful, especially when they hear your story.

If you know even a little Spanish, you can do quite a bit with Barron's "Spanish at a Glance" phrase book and dictionary. I've used the Italian version in Italy with success even though I've never studied Italian.
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Joined: 24 Oct 2003
Posts: 338
Location: Washington, D.C.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only Spanish you need to know in Asturies is the following:

"Mis abuelos fueron de Asturies." (My grandparents were from Asturias.)

Everything else will fall into place if you preface it with that magical phrase, trust me.

Asturians consider other Asturians family, especially long-lost returning family members. Alerting the natives that you are Asturian-American will open so many doors for you that you'll be seriously amazed. I know I was.

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Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Centerburg, Knox County, Ohio USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 12:55 pm    Post subject: Asturias Travel Reply with quote

Thanks to both Art and Xose' for your rapid responses! I appreciate all your information. Art, I reviewed the WaytoSpain website and it appears MadeforUs! I have sent an email for additional information. We are exited!! Thanks for sharing your experiences, it makes us more relaxed knowing what we might expect.
Xose' , that phrase ( Mis abuelos fueron de Asturies." My grandparents were from Asturias.) is a phrase I DO know! I will keep it on the tip of my tongue.
I recall a taxi ride in Spain when I asked the driver a question in English. Without a hesitation he responded he did not understand English... so I used my halting Spanish and tried again. He turned around (driving at 45mph in the city...) and asked where in Spain I was from - in his halting English. We had a nice conversation in English/Spanish and arrived at the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum safely. (whew!)
So, ' what is "not to miss" in Asturias?
PS: In case you haven't made the connection, I want to mention that my brother, Roberto Vega, is a participant on this site & we two so enjoy discussing his geneology quests.
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Joined: 03 Oct 2006
Posts: 1
Location: cantabria spain

PostPosted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:59 pm    Post subject: Totally Spain Reply with quote


This is Ken Baldwin, one of the owners of Totally Spain. While searching the internet I fortunately discovered your email.

We would love to have the opportunity to take care of your trip to Spain. I assure you that we have organised many, many independent trips to Spain and I would be happy to supply you with any number of past client references.

Our office is located in Cantabria, right deside Asturias and we know the area extremely well. We´re a very professional company dedicated to ensuring our clients have a happy and safe trip to Spain full of only pleasant surprises.

If you haven´t already arranged your trip, then please give us a chance to assist you. You can contact me personally [with the email button below].

Best wishes
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Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Centerburg, Knox County, Ohio USA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Asturias Vacation Reply with quote

To: Ken Baldwin /Totally Spain
Thank you for your e-mail! I just looked at your website and I believe you have described your company well! As it happens, we have already booked with WaytoSpain and made arrangements for our trip. We are leaving for Green Spain on Oct. 20th and will have 12 wonderful days to explore! I very much appreciate your response. Perhaps another adventure in the future! I hope this isn't our last trip to Asturias!
Best Wishes!
Betty Vega Fockler
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Joined: 04 Nov 2005
Posts: 257
Location: España

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buenos dias Betty:

Mi consejo es que sigas el consejo de Xose, la mayor parte de los jóvenes de Castrillón han estudiado inglés desde la enseñanza primaria, asi que encontrareis muchos traductores voluntarios.

Mi consejo es que la primera visita la hagas a la Asociación de vecinos de Santa Maria del Mar en Las Chavolas.

Alli, si no me equivoco te encontrarás con un pariente tuyo, su 2º apellido es Vega, su madre nació en Donora y su abuela era de Tamón. Menciona estos datos y que te apellidas Vega.

Ademas ellos tienen un montón de fotos antiguas, entre las cuales está, por ej. la de Adolfo Vega, jubilado de la RCA en 1961, vuestro tio-abuelo.

Tambien hay muchas fotos en La Lleñada, no creo que tengan problemas para enseñartelas, aunque ahora no tienen ninguna exposición, pero las guardan archivadas en carpetas, fáciles de localizar.

No olvideis traer copias de las fotos que publica Roberto en su sitio web, seguro que volvereis con muchas de ellas identificadas.

Otros puntos que debes visitar son: Raices Viejo, El Villar, La Castañalona y por supuesto La Llordal y San Miguel de Quiloño, en todos estos sitios, si mencionais el apellido Vega encontrareis parientes, ¡teneis una familia enorme!

Me temo que 12 dias serán pocos para hacer todo, pero espero que disfrueis mucho de vuestro viaje y que conozcais todos los lugares que os interesan.


Good morning Betty:

I’d suggest you follow Xose’s advice, most of Castrillón’s youth knows English, so you’ll likely find many willing translators.

My advice is that you first visit the Asociación de vecinos de Santa Maria del Mar in Las Chavolas.

If I am not mistaken you’ll find there a relative yours, his 2º last name is Vega, his mother was born in Donora and his grandmother was from Tamón. Mention this to him and let him know your last name is Vega.

They have a ton of old photos, among them one of your granduncle Adolfo Vega, he retired from RCA in 1961.

Also, there are many photos in La Lleñada, I don’t believe they’ll have any problems showing them to you, although they do not have an exhibit, they do keep them filed in folders, making them easy to locate.

Don’t forget to bring copies of the photos Robert has on his website, I’m certain you’ll return with many of them identified.

Some other places you must visit are: Raices Viejo, El Villar, La Castañalona and of course La Llordal and San Miguel de Quiloño, in all these places if you mention that your last name is Vega you’ll find relatives, you have a very large family!

I am afraid that 12 days will not be enough to do everything, hope you enjoy your trip and get to visit all the places of interest to you.
"Begin your day with a smile, you'll see how amusing it is to go through life being off key with the rest of the world ."
My friend Libertad ‘Freedom’ _____
"Comienza tu día con una sonrisa, verás lo divertido que es ir por ahí desentonando con todo el mundo."
Mi amiguita Libertad ________
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Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Centerburg, Knox County, Ohio USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buenos dias Mafalda,
Muchas gracias por su consejo! My Spanish is quite poor at best.. I believe I understood most of your note and hopefully next week my brother will assist me with the remainder of it.

This has been such a dream of mine for so many years. I used to question my grandmother about Spain and she would tell me her stories. I so admire her and my grandfather for leaving their home and going to
a foreign place. Not knowing the language, cutoms, with not much but what they could carry. How terrified they must have been -- and how brave to do it! They taught themselves English and made a good life here.

I am working with a wonderful person in Mrs. Madian Prado at WaytoSpain in creating our itinerary. It is exciting and I have learned so much about Asturias already while planning our trip. I think it is kind of like splitting your own wood - it warms your heart twice!

Again, I thank you so much for your suggestions and information! 14 days till Asturias!
Best Regards!


Buenos dias Mafalda,

Muchas gracias por su consejo! My Castellano deja mucho que desear. Me parece entendi la mayor parte de lo que dijiste, con suerte la proxima semana mi hermano me ayudara con el resto.

Esto ha sido un sueño para mi por muchos años. Solia preguntarle a mi abuela sobre España y ella me contaba historias. Admiro mucho tanto a ella como a mi abuelo por dejar su tierra e ir a vivir en el extranjero. Sin conocer el idioma, las costumbres sin mas de lo que podian cargar. Que tan aterrorizados deben haber estado – y que tal coraje para hacerlo! Fueron autodidactas en aprender Ingles, gozaron el resto de sus vidas aca.

Estoy trabajando con la Sra. Madian Prado una persona maravillosa en WaytoSpain creando nuestro itinerario. Esto es muy emocionante y he aprendido mucho sobre Asturias mientras planeo nuestro viaje. Me parece que es algo asi como cortar tu propia leña - gozas dos veces!

De nuevo, gracias por las sugerencias y la informacion! Solo 14 dias mas para llegar a Asturias!


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Joined: 09 May 2003
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please do not hesitate to go to Asturias without a tour guide. Whoeve advised you would be foolish to do so is completely wrong. I have not posted in a while, but I just had to reply to this. I visted Asturias with my Dad, AUnt, niece, son and girlfriend in August. I wil admit, my Aunt speaks decent Asturianu and my Dad speaks very well. But, becasue my Dad has hearing problems, he was not much help. But, even with that, we did not need the languauge skills. Asutiras is the most friendly, non-threatening place I have ever visited in my life (and I have been to many places). I would not hesitate to go back without being able to speak a word. These people were so genuine and friendly. And, even complete strangers were thrilled to find out our family came from Asturias. It was a trip of a lifetime and I am so happy my 84 year old Dad made it with me. Rent a car and explore! You will love it.
Marleen Menendez Suarez
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Joined: 26 Jan 2006
Posts: 82
Location: Centerburg, Knox County, Ohio USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:29 pm    Post subject: Traveling in Asturias Reply with quote

Thanks for your interest and taking the time to post. I am sure each of you has given me great advice. For this particular trip we did choose to have a host... I really cannot say "guide" as it wasn't like that at all for us. (And, we have been on many "guided tours" around the world.)
Madian and Mike were more like new friends who became "old" friends very quickly. We made the decisions on where we wanted to go, some based on our own research, some with our hosts suggestions. We would do it again that way.
It wasn't only the language barrier, it was also knowing where to go and the history that accompanied the sites. We learned so much. And we did some geneology detective work as well!
My husband and I were talking just today discussing how we would do the next trip. We decided we could figure out the "round abouts" on the highways and, with the help of the maps, the routes too. NOW we know the area, we are familiar with so many things that the next trip will be wonderful too because of what we learned this time. By the time we left I found myself understanding so much more Spanish than when we arrived. So, next time I will be more fluent in the language and spread our wings a bit more. For this occasion, we are very satisfied and happy with our choice... more than happy, we are overjoyed with our wonderful Asturias Adventure! Our weather ws fantastic! We stayed in a wonderful 300 yr old home in Ceceda... And we have so many photographs of the Picos, Gijon, Llanes, Covadonga, Ribadesella, Nava, Tamon, my grandparents' area in Piedras Blancas, Aviles, Las Chavolas, Oviedo, on and on and on... if only we didn't have to spend so much time in flight! That was another story altogether... Again, thanks for all your suggestions and encouragement!
That "draw" to my grandparents' homeland is not easy to explain. I actually had tears in my eyes as I looked over the beautiful green hills in Piedras Blancas.... and we believe our hosts helped us make the most of every single minute so we enjoyed more and experienced more. .. including the most wonderful foods and wines! Oh, we did eat WELL!
So, guided, hosted, alone, with friends, whatever - just experience Asturias!
Long Live Asturias!
Betty Vega Fockler
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