When first visiting Asturias by air you could be forgiven for thinking the pilot may have taken a wrong turn somewhere. On arriving at Oviedo airport you might pick up a rental car, grab a taxi or board a bus. You will head out along the airport road and within 5 minutes you will understand what I mean, as you take in the first spectacular views of the region. In one direction lush green pasture and undulating hills finally give way in the distance to the sea. As you cross one of the many huge viaducts which span the numerous valleys heading east you will soon see the outline of the Cantabrian mountain range of which the Picos form one part. In another direction you will see the port of Aviles as the outskirts of the city fade into the individual farms and smallholdings which have all but disappeared from the UK countryside. Ten minutes further you will pass some of the remaining mines of the region on the outskirts of Aviles and then, coming up fast, dwarfed by the mountain backdrop is the capital city of Oviedo. This for many people will probably be the first jumping off point. From a base in this elegant and charming city you can taking in the scenery of the stunning countryside, kayaking along a pristine river , skiing at the local ski resort, (weather permitting), surfing from one of the drop dead gorgeous beaches or setting out for the summit of one of the most beautiful mountains in Europe. Each one of these activities or destinations are within 30 minutes drive of Oviedo! As indeed are the two other major cities of the aforementioned Aviles along with the vibrant coastal city of Gijon with its famous San Lorenzo Beach, botanical gardens and marina. To paraphrase a very famous traveller who went where no man had gone before 'This is Spain Jim, but not as we know it.....'