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A wheely suitcase in Europe #6: San Sebastian to Gijon

After four nights in San Sebastian, Basque we journeyed further west to Gijon, Asturias. Again we decided to use BlaBlaCar, mainly because the alternative rail and bus journeys were slower and more expensive respectively. The route we took is illustrated below, which as you can see we primarily hugged the coastline.

Trip 6

In contrast, travelling by train between San Sebastian and Gijon would have taken us on the route shown below. This would have taken longer, cost more, and dragged us inland away from the coast. Thumbs down to using the train in this part of Spain.

SS to gij by train

Our BlaBlaCar journey was again seamless and pleasant. We booked two seats in the back seat of a Saab 9-3, which provided a lovely ride. The drive itself was spectacular; imagine soaring verdant hills and mountains on one side, and beautiful rugged coastline on the other. Similar to that shown below (source).

Look familiar? Personally, I felt like the landscape in Cantabria and especially Asturias was extraordinarily similar to a combination of New Zealand’s West Coast and the Coromandel.

The region of Asturias is actually home to beaches of all shapes, sizes, and persuasions. Here’s a recent post on coastal Asturias written by someone (Liz) who previously lived in Spain, but who now lives in New Zealand. I think Liz provides a wonderful synopsis of the region’s coastal towns and beaches. One of the most interesting beaches Liz talks about (but we didn’t visit) is Playa de Gulpiyuri, which is a flooded sinkhole located 100m back from the coastline. Quite amazing.

That’s not all, however, because apart from beaches, Asturias also has mountains.

Not just green mountains either: Proper snowy mountains (source).

We stayed for two nights in Gijon, which I must say was a little underwhelming. In our wanderings we found little in the way of public art or civic investment. Perhaps more sadly the food was not great in comparison to other places we had eaten. On the first night we had the misfortune of stumbling into a funny yet terrible restaurant (here’s the TripAdvisor reviews if you’re interested). On the second night the food was better, but still not great.

Ultimately Gijon gave me the feeling of being struggle town; a place whose primary purpose (at least historically) had been to meet the needs of industry. That’s not to say Gijon doesn’t have potential; indeed the natural setting is beautiful, as illustrated below. There’s a little bit of Barcelona about the place, except without the young people to keep it vibrant.

And it’s real saving grace is that it’s located in one of the most beautiful regions I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. In general, I can highly recommend visiting Asturias, even if I’m lukewarm on Gijon itself. I’ve heard that Oviedo, which is a city just 30 minutes away, might be a better place to park yourself to explore the region, whether it be beaches or mountains that take your fancy.

I hope you enjoy; tune in soon for the Gijon to Santiago de Compostela leg.

4 comments to A wheely suitcase in Europe #6: San Sebastian to Gijon

  • Seamonkey Madness

    Oviedo is indeed amazing. When I went there in winter (2006 mind), they had just had a lights festival. The central city had lovely parks and public art.
    Also, their public transport system shares the same name as NZ’s favourite boxing son, David Tua (www.tua.es/es/) 🙂

    The restaurants we went too featured their signature cider pouring (from your arm stretched way above your head), so as to encourage more bubbles. It really was a nice place to visit.

  • MFD

    “except without the young people to keep it vibrant.”

    so…what is the age at which vibrancy is deemed to cease?

  • Stunning Stu. But you did miss a trick with the notoriously dense Renfe website: The Feve local narrow gauge railway that runs along this coast, no need to go inland at all. There’s a bit of a description here: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/spain/cantabria-and-asturias/the-feve-railway/

  • Jessica

    We went to Gijon to visit an Asturian friend late June 2015 (I can see our Airbnb in your last photo – the white building facing the marina). We had a great time, but I think it was largely due to having a local host with a car who could show us around the wider region and I probably wouldn’t recommend it as a place to visit in itself, as you mention. Highlights from Asturias were canoeing the Sella River (with plenty of stopping along the way for BBQs, local cider, and swimming) and the Covadonga lakes and church. Oviedo (incidentally a favourite spot of Woody Allen) is perhaps slightly more charming for tourists than Gijon and has a rather pretty old town. I’d be interested to visit La Iglesias Skate, a skate park within an abandoned church if I ever get the chance to return…http://laiglesiaskate.com/

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