Camino del Norte Norte Cantábrico Gallega Ingles Spain

Day 8: Villaviciosa to Gijon

With breakfast at 7.30, and after a good chat with a German walker staying at the hotel, I was on my way by 8.10.  It was interesting to hear his reasons for walking, to put a stressful daily routine behind him, recharge his batteries and as a time for reflection. He preferred to walk alone. I’d spoken with him briefly yesterday on the road, and also got the impression he preferred to walk in his own thoughts, which I fully understand.

It was a quiet day, primarily passing through eucalyptus forests, the odd small village and the outskirts of Gijon. Beyond the weather, there were two challenges today, and they were the two very steep climbs, the first up to 450m with up to 30% inclines, the second up to 250m with inclines up to 25%. The descents after the climbs were not steep, but very long, both around 4kms long. Going down for such a long time is hard on the knees.

I’d walked about 12kms from Villaviciosa when I took the picture of the sign below, so it must be many extra kilometers by car.

It rained most of the day. Well, it dripped most of the day and rained some of it – at least up until 14.15 when I arrived at the hotel. I have learnt that it is often light rain, and it doesn’t always turn heavier, so I usually wait before putting on my rain cape. If it is windy it can be quiet a show trying to get the poncho to also cover my backpack, often taking 2 or 3 attempts before I succeed. And so often I experience that no sooner have I got it in place, before the rain stops again.

I took an alternative route into Gijon, so instead of following the road through an industrial and commercial area, I followed a stream with a dirt/stone path, passing the botanical gardens and the university. A pleasant walk, and certainly better than walking along the road.

I was looking forward to a coffee and cola after descending the first steep climb, but the bar indicated on the map was closed. In fact I didn’t find anywhere for a break until I made it to Gijon. Normally I would just take a break and sit and take in the view,  but because of the weather, I walked the 28km in one stretch. I passed the bull rink and a baker selling Mother’s Day cakes, 200m before the hotel.

I met four walkers, a French girl walking from Paris, a Canadian man, an American man (called Van – he told me that I was the first person that hadn’t looked at him as though he was crazy after saying his name) and a Spanish guy who I’d met yesterday – then they were two, but his friend had stopped, injured.

After checking into the very modern hotel (called El Moderne) and checking in at home, I found a restaurant still serving menu del dia, before spending a few hours walking around Gijon. Gijon is a very nice city, a mixture of modern and old. The city was hit heavily under the Spanish Civil War and since rebuilt, but there is still a busy old town with small streets and and lots of bars and cafes. There is also the bay and beach, which must be very, very busy in summer.

What I’ve noticed about the cities and towns I have stayed in, is that many people live in and very close to the city centres, so when the kids are free from school, there is lots of life in the many squares and parks, lots of people out walking, many with their dogs, and the bars are crowded. This gives a living city centre, pretty much around the clock, in difference to the dead centres where only financial and/or commercial businesses are found. There are many cities that could learn from Spain.

I visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with its fabulous stained glass windows, before returning to the hotel and calling it a day.

All in all, a quiet day.

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