Young people

Post by Wynette

When we were at the botanic gardens, we came across these girls and a photographer getting ready to do a photo shoot. The girls were all giggling.
We see so many children. Birth rate must be up here. For a while I think it was dangerously low. Parents seem so loving and patient with their children.
It seems every trip we take to Spain, we come across a wedding. Here guests are waiting outside the church for the bride and groom and being entertained by a bagpiper, a drummer, and a baby.
The Gijón sign by the marina where people like to get photos taken. Proud grandma.
We enjoy sitting on a park bench and watching the children play. This little girl was being very bossy with the two younger boys.
Young couple at low tide
We see lots of families eating out.

Living in Gijón

Plaza San Miguel, a small park

Post by Wynette: Gijón certainly isn’t a tourist city. We’ve seen a few pilgrims passing through but that’s about it. There are probably Spanish tourists who we don’t recognize as such and many more of those who come here in the summer to avoid the heat of places like Madrid or Seville. (Many Spaniards own a second home or condo somewhere on the north coast of Spain. Housing was way overbuilt here before the 2008 crash. We presume housing is cheap.)

As a place to live, I think Gijón would be hard to beat, at least here in the center. It has its wonderful beach with miles of walking on the beach or on wide walkways along the beach and ocean. It has beautiful parks. It is tranquil and vibrant at the same time. Wonderful restaurants and bars and pastry shops, almost on every block. Most businesses appear to be locally owned. Lots of grocery stores and fruit/vegetable stands. Incredible bus system. People here seem relaxed and happy. It’s been a great place to spend 9 days.

A large park, Parque de Begoña. Church next to it reminds us of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe.
Where the kids play in Parque de Begoña
Another corner of Parque de Begoña. There’s an outdoor cafe culture here. These are pretty much all local people.
We’ve noticed the younger people dress pretty casually, but the older people often dress up, just to go out and sit on a bench.
Dressed up to go shopping on the big pedestrian shopping street. The stores will either let her bring her dog inside or provide a place by the door to leave her dog.
Our neighborhood: Fruit/vegetable store next to The Blu Café, one of the cafes we like. Photo taken from bar where we go for coffee and sometimes breakfast. All a half block from our apartment.
Waiting for the bus at Plaza del Carmen

Botanic Garden

Bulrushes in bloom

Post by Wynette: Yesterday, Friday, May 4, we took a bus to the Jardín Botánico Atlántico. We spent 2 or 3 hours walking through the huge garden. They had areas with native plants, invasive plants, plants brought from the Americas, plants important for cultivation (farm plants), forest plants, herbs, and much more.

We learned that the Spanish word for holly is acebo and the name for gorse is tojo. That when the century plant, one of those American imports, gets a lot of water, they get really really really big. That bulrushes, at least the ones labeled as such that grow here, have beautiful yellow flowers that look like irises. That camellias are beautiful as long as they are deadheaded. (We saw so many on the Camino with brown flowers, we got a bad impression of camellias.) We learned what a monkey puzzle tree is. We learned that rich industrialists who probably treated workers badly can leave beautiful estates. We learned that yew trees can be pruned into really cool shapes. We learned that citrus can bloom and have fruit at the same time, and the blooms smell heavenly. And we learned that lilacs smell good here, too. (Well, we already knew that.)

Deadheaded camellias
Well-watered century plant
Smelling the lilacs

Día de Las Madres + Cinco de Mayo

Post by Wynette: Today is Mother’s Day in Spain. Two different times we’ve been in Spain I’ve gotten confused on Mother’s Day in Spain and also thought it was Mother’s Day in the US and called my mom. Didn’t happen this time. But, Mom, talk to you NEXT Sunday. ❤️

We decided to have lunch today at the trattoria on our block. There are more than 20 Italian restaurants in Gijón and this one is the most highly rated. Since it was Sunday we thought we would call to see if we needed a reservation. To our surprise, they had “no mesas”. They were … the dreaded word … “completo.” So we decided to try another Italian restaurant. Also completo. On the phone, after the guy said “completo, ” he started talking fast and I couldn’t get much of what he was saying. Charlie and I both heard the word “madre” and my very smart husband figured out the restaurants are full because it is Mother’s Day. We’d completely forgotten. We tried a couple more places, also completo.

Finally, vía Google Maps, we found a well-rated Mexican taquería in the old town that doesn’t take reservations. Didn’t even have a phone listed. So we thought we might have a chance there. We headed over. No tables were available, but he (the owner, we presume, and the only waiter in the tiny restaurant) said we could sit at the bar. No problem. We were glad to get in.

Tiny colorful Taquería Las Calacas, a few moms present

We ordered our water (big drinkers that we are) and our tacos. We weren’t sure what tacos to order of the seven choices but they were only a euro each so we ordered one of each. (Big spenders, too.) He warned us one of them (the shrimp one) was very very hot. We said “no problema”.

Before our tacos were ready, he pointed us to some places that were free at one end of a table.

Free places for us

The tacos came. They were great. And, yes, one was quite hot but nothing our New Mexico taste buds couldn’t handle. The tacos were small and we were still hungry after we had eaten them, so we asked him what else he’d recommend and he suggested the chicken enchiladas with tomatilla sauce and mozzarella cheese. We shared an order of those. Also very good.

Colorful tacos. Hot one at 3:00.
They really were smaller than they look here.

There were two young women sitting at the other end of the table where he seated us. One asked us, in English, where we were from. They were from Bilbao. They were here for a long weekend holiday, but they didn’t like Gijón as much as their home town. They said they had been talking about us earlier, about how nice it must be to be older and retired and to be able to travel to far away places. They said they don’t think people in Spain will be getting very good retirements. I think she used the word “crisis.” We talked about other things. Was fun to talk to them.

The young women we chatted with and the friendly owner. Paying their bill.

So we had Mexican instead of Italian today. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo.

Satisfied customer

May 3: Gijón

Where we had breakfast

Post by Wynette: We forgot to go to the grocery store yesterday so decided to eat breakfast out this morning. We thought we’d first try the bar around the corner, the one that has the best coffee of all our neighborhood bars. We didn’t expect they would make eggs and toast for us but they didn’t hesitate to say yes, and with a friendly smile. Out on the Camino, we got used to paying 8 euros for eggs, toast, and coffee for two. I figured we’d pay quite a bit more than that here in the city. Was surprised when bill was only 8.50.

After a delicious breakfast, we caught a bus to the end of the beach and then walked two or three miles along a walkway. Kind of a seaside park here in the city.

After that we took a bus back to our neighborhood and ate shrimp and pineapple curry at a little Asian restaurant. Then went to the Blu Café for dessert of Boston Cream Pie that Charlie had spotted there. His mom used to make that for him and Charlie said it was much the same.

Then we went to the fruit stand next door to the Blu Café. I asked the proprietor if we could buy half of one of the small watermelons and she seemed happy to do that and wrap it up for us.

Then we went home and rested and did a crossword puzzle. Then we (finally) walked to the grocery store. Came home and made a salad for dinner. So we had a lazy relaxing day and lots of good eating.

San Lorenzo Beach, east end, low tide
Surfers heading for the beach
Large ship in the distance.
Man gathering something from the tide pools.
Dramatic sculpture by Ramón Muriedes.
Monument to the mother of the immigrant. 1970.
Charlie paying for our coffee and “Boston” (what they called it) in the Blu Café.