Gijón, Spain is a place that insists you loosen your tie, forget yesterday’s worries, and let yourself unwind. It presses gently downward, whether with humidity or with a siren´s call, and seats you at a terrace or a bench with seaside views. Before you know it, there’s a cider in hand and you’re channeling the Asturian roots you never knew you had.
Squeezed as it was between a night in León and a wedding in the countryside, our time in Gijón still managed to ooze relaxation. We started our walk at San Lorenzo beach, where we watched couples strolling the boardwalk, musicians lazily strumming, and children playing in the Cantabrian Sea. We continued west, following a sharp ascent. The views that met us at the top were gorgeous ones that we documented with our cameras but knew could never truly capture the moment. Green grass softened our path, seagulls circled the bay, and the cool sea breeze whipped over us. We stood for a few seconds, saying nothing and simply letting the sun warm our shoulders.
Mealtime was no rushed affair, either; the food arrived when the waiter deemed fit. We sampled chipirones spritzed with lemon, local cheeses melted over potatoes, crusty bread, and plump sausages cooked in cider. Meals were washed down with shockingly cheap natural cider. Each bottle cost the same as one drink in Madrid, reminding us of how far we were from the capital–and by extension, the stresses of big-city life.
First views of the beach
Playa de San Lorenzo
The water was cold, but there were plenty of sunbathers
Looking out over the Puerto de Gijón
Elogio del Horizonte, a sculpture by Eduardo Chillida
A military fortress sat under the sculpture! Signs clearly outlined a route to explore it
Quaint plaza near Parque Begoña
Cider was had (of course!)
Feria in Gijón’s Plaza Mayor
As our bus vroomed away from the seaside town of Gijón, I grinned when I thought about my original almost-trip to see the city. In 2007, I was studying abroad in León, a city only 2 hours south of this coastal town. A friend of mine had invited me check the city out with her and her roommate. I gently declined; the roommate had become more of a boyfriend, and I didn’t see how I would fit into the romantic-stroll-on-the-beach equation.
Seven years ago it was a couple that stopped me from checking out Gijón, but in one of life’s funny twists, another couple became the very reason I went back to the city. A college friend and her Asturian fiancé got married just outside of Gijón this weekend, and we were there for the celebration. It was a beautiful event, made all the more memorable with the intensely green mountains and valleys of the Asturian countryside.
24 hours was not enough time. If you get the chance to go to Gijón, Spain, go for two days or more. Take a book, some sunblock, and a sense of adventure. Above all, prepare to slow down and fall in step with this city’s languid pace.