Gijón – Probably the Best City in the World

When you find yourself, over a fine pot of tea, nodding in agreement  as your friend suggests that the city you’re in right now, the one that is 30 minutes from home, is the best city in the world, then you know you’ve landed on your feet.

Of course Gijón starts off with the massive advantage of being a seaside city. When you park the car (for free) by the river and walk along a glorious beachfront heading into the heart of town  for a day’s shopping  it can’t help but put a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

IMG_3128.JPG

The seafront is always bustling with runners and roller-bladers, post-prandial promenaders, dog-walkers and surfers nipping down to the shore, wetsuits on and boards under their arms. It always makes me think: ‘Now this is a city I could live in’. Which is quite something coming from a country mouse like me.

At the end of San Lorenzo beach, poking out to sea is the promontory that houses the ‘casco antiguo’, the attractive, ancient heart of the city, originally a Roman settlement as witnessed by the fortified walls and ancient thermal baths (now a museum).  This barrio of Cimadevilla is known for its vibrant nightlife and is a great spot for bar-hopping into the early hours as well as being home to one of my favourite tapas restaurants (La Galana, in the Plaza Mayor).

But on this sunny Saturday we were on a clothes shopping mission so at the end of the beach we turned left and headed to the main shopping area, set just a tad back from the shore and well-populated with lots of interesting, independent retailers as well as an absolute ton of fantastic bars, cafes and restaurants (natch, this is Spain after all).

While the main high street chains are also represented here, what makes this quarter special (and a million miles better than any indoor shopping mall I know) is the kind of little boutiques that are owned and run by passionate lovers of fashion and style. The kind that get their own designs made up, that sell not just outfits but the accesories to go with them and where the assistants will happily advise you on what jewellery or scarf could put the perfect finishing touch to the dress you’re trying on for a big occasion. The kind of places that turn a shopping trip into an adventure in creativity.

And after all that shopping creativity we certainly felt like we’d earned our nice pot of tea and large slice of excellent cake, which we took in the elegant surrounds of the ‘Pomme Cuite‘. This artesanal panadería and cafetería makes the best croissants in all Spain according to ‘El País’. And I can quite believe it. The smartly turned out hipster staff and crisply perfect decor somehow also manage to make you feel you’re in a much bigger city than you are.

Ah, Gijón. Small but perfectly formed. And quite probably the best city in the world.

 

 

Comments

  1. Nice read, brings it to life though personally I could do without the shopping experience.

    • Thanks for your kind words Barry! To be honest, I’m not much of a shopper myself, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it an enjoyable day out despite the shopping mission. You can’t go wrong really when there’s so many lovely bars round every corner and the beach at the end of the road :-)

  2. I’m sure I could find plenty to amuse myself with in all those bars and restaurants!

  3. One of our favourite places to explore as well. Great blog post. The Sunday market is worth a visit.

    • Thanks for reading Ian! It really is a great city isn’t it? And you’re right, the Sunday market is also worth a visit. Might be another blog post in that ;-)

  4. Great post Mary – I like the look of the meringue. Might have to nip over just to try it!

    • Thanks Pamela. And I tell you what, the meringue alone is definitely worth the journey! Sure you’re only up the road ;-)

  5. Peter Jones says:

    Just stumbled across this blog and it is a pleasant read- we intend to move to asturias in a year or so and will take a short holiday (celebrating my wife’s birthday) in Gijon in February next year. thank you for the guide though I apreciate the weather may be slightly different!

Please leave a reply