I was told by a teaching colleague in Gijón, northern Spain, about a fetching village nearby called Candás. Deciding to investigate, I boarded the train in Gijón with my team and took the 20 minute ride, passing industry, rolling green hills and rugged coastline. The train was empty, the fields were quiet and the sky was sullen as we arrived in town.
It was late Autumn as we wandered down the streets of Candás. I’m told it’s a busy place in the summer, filled with tourists. However that wasn’t today, as the town was beginning to hibernate like a tulip bulb in winter. The streets were lifeless and the ground, walls and clouds were leaden grey.
Established around the 10th century, Candás was once an important whaling town connected with northern Europe, particularly Ireland’s whaling industry. Today, Candás is primarily a tourist town which still has a connection with its fishing industry and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it also dishes up superb seafood.
As we approached the centre, more people began to appear and the shops and cafes/taverns became quaint. The centre has a real village atmosphere as it’s tightly condensed and linked by a network of narrow streets.
Down by the sea, boats bobbed in the bay and a road ran beneath a tall hill which protects the town. Turning back towards a seaside restaurant, we decided to have lunch. The football was on and I ordered a bottle of cider, which came with an automatic agitator. I sat and watched the game and quaffed my drink.
I then ordered a dozen sardines – misjudging their size completely – and when the plate came out I knew I was in trouble. I finished about half before deciding to give them to one of the many homeless people I regularly passed in Gijón. Leaving the restaurant sated and with a bag of sardines, we decided to explore town.
For me, one of the highlights of Candás is the black and white photos of village life throughout the years, which are enlarged and displayed on the sea wall. I thought it a nice design/idea as it captures the essence of the place. Local men and women toiling hard and looking infinitely stylish in the 1930s – a time I tried in vain to imagine but would never know.
We spent the afternoon wandering in the hills near the lighthouse, looking over the rugged Asturian coastline, its industry and the Autumn sea. The coastline reminded me a little of England. Unfortunately, I carried my sardines around all day and part of that night, finding no homeless people and eventually I threw them in the bin.
Candás is not your typical Spanish town, being windswept, rugged and green. If you ever get there in the summer, tell me what it’s like…
Things to do in Candás, Spain
- Visit the lighthouse – which has been in operation since 1852
- Visit the Antón Museum, devoted to artist Antón Rodriguez Vega
- Visit the Church of San Félix
- Visit Teatro Prendes
- Experience Candás’ sardine festival from July 28 to August 22
- Experience Candás’ Pipe Band Festival from 13 – 14th July