In the heart of Northern Spain, where the verdant mountains meet the majestic Cantabrian Sea, lies the coastal gem of Gijon. This enchanting city, with its rich history, warm people, and mouthwatering cuisine, beckons travelers like me to explore its outdoor wonders. With over 15 years of camping experience, I’ve roamed forests, deserts, and beaches around the world, but Gijon offered an entirely different kind of adventure.
Upon arrival, I was immediately drawn to the warm hospitality of the local people. Gijonians have a reputation for being open-hearted and welcoming, and I was not disappointed. The moment I parked my recreational vehicle at the local campsite, friendly campers greeted me, offering help and sharing stories of their own travels. It wasn’t long before I felt like a part of this close-knit camping community.
One sunny morning, I decided to embark on a hike in the nearby Picos de Europa National Park, which provided breathtaking vistas of lush valleys and pristine rivers. I met a local guide, Javier, who shared his deep love for the region and its outdoor treasures. As we traversed narrow mountain trails and lush meadows, he regaled me with stories of the area’s history and culture. We even stumbled upon a charming village where we were welcomed by the locals with homemade cider and delicious pastries, a true taste of Asturian hospitality.
No visit to Gijon would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Asturian cuisine is renowned for its fresh seafood and hearty, flavorsome dishes. In one of Gijon’s quaint restaurants, I tried Fabada Asturiana, a traditional bean stew with chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage). The dish was a revelation, bursting with rich, savory flavors, and paired perfectly with a glass of local cider.
Another culinary highlight was my visit to a sidreria, where I experienced the time-honored ritual of pouring cider from a height to aerate it. The locals demonstrated this tradition with enthusiasm, making it a memorable experience. The taste of crisp, slightly tart cider was unlike any I’d ever tried.
I also had the pleasure of dining at “El Sueño de Picasso,” a charming seafood restaurant tucked away in a historic building. The menu was a seafood lover’s dream, with options like fresh grilled sardines, succulent percebes (gooseneck barnacles), and perfectly prepared octopus. The ambiance was cozy and inviting, and I couldn’t resist ordering dessert – a velvety Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) that was pure bliss.
Gijon’s local markets were a treasure trove of delicious discoveries. One morning, I visited the Mercado de Sur, where vendors sold an array of fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and cured meats. I couldn’t resist the temptation to try some Cabrales, a pungent blue cheese that is a local specialty. The market buzzed with energy, and the vendors’ enthusiasm for their products was infectious.
Throughout my stay in Gijon, I was continually charmed by the warmth and generosity of the local people, the awe-inspiring natural beauty, and the delectable cuisine. My camping experience in this enchanting part of Spain has left an indelible mark on my travel adventures, making it a destination I will fondly revisit in the years to come. Gijon is a place where the heart and soul are nourished as much as the body, and I can’t wait to share more of its secrets with fellow travelers in the pages of my upcoming book.