Gijon: A Pomegranate of a City

Rest day — From the outside, a pomegranate looks plain and ordinary, but open it and inside is compartment after compartment of shiny, jewel-like seeds. So it is with Gijon, a pomegranate of a city.

I decided that today, my second rest day in this seaside, industrial town, would be about finding new camp shoes. For the uninitiated, these are the shoes a caminoist brings along in his/her backpack for times other than hiking. They need to be super lightweight and extremely comfortable. A year ago I bought a pair which now, sadly, have started to come apart.

So I set out to shop Gijon, not expecting to enjoy this town I’d never heard of before the camino and that hadn’t impressed me yesterday.

What I found was another example of a livable, pretty and enjoyable European city. While its albeit ancient history precludes it from having the typical medieval, walled center, it has a combination of parks, beaches, retail areas, and outdoor cafes that make it a fun place to be. I discovered that each time I turned a corner I would find myself in another pomegranate-like compartment filled with jewels. The secret seems to be a series of parks and plazas sprinkled liberally around the town, often linked by pedestrian-only streets.

I took pictures, gawked like a tourist, wandered inside churches, watched people, fed pigeons, sampled the local cafe con leche, planned my dinner, and found some bright red camp shoes. On sale!

Best part of the day, though, was when Martin arrived. After he arrived after a bus ride from Logroño we started catching up on events since we last met and then planned dinner at Peggy Sue’s American Diner around the corner. Tomorrow we’ll walk through the industrial areas of Gijon to Aviles, apparently another delightful Spanish city.

20120612-123711.jpgGijon settles down for dinnertime.

20120612-123734.jpgPeggy Sue’s American diner — with Heinz Catsup in bottles.

20120612-124021.jpgAmazing church interior off Calle Begona.

20120612-124105.jpgPedestrian mall and park. Every town needs one of these to make it walkable.

20120612-124219.jpgStylish cafe with free WiFi and Parisian feel.

20120612-124310.jpgStreetscape — old and new delightfully joined together.

20120612-124404.jpgdos hamburguesas todas de vacuno, salsa especial, lechuga, queso, pepinillos y cebollas en un panecillo con semillas de sésamo.

20120612-124913.jpgI’d heard he and the other two men I admired most caught the last train for the coast. Got there and opened a bank?

20120612-125200.jpgMy new, ruby red slippers.

20120612-181726.jpgHola, Martin!

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