DAY 44. 20 JUNE 2016. GIJÒN HOLIDAY.

 Early birds  

Early birds  

A lovely quiet night with a slow start. I ring Orange at 9am and they tell me there's no irregular activity on my account. They have an English language Customer Care number so I can have a proper conversation rather than double guessing, so that's a relief too.

 The beaches are immaculate- here's why. 

The beaches are immaculate- here's why. 

Yesterday I realised I had left my gaiters at the other albergue, so I have a long walk along the sand in the sunshine to retrieve them. I know my way now! They were still on the drying rack in the garden.

Trip Advisor and Google say I'm 0.5 km away from the Botanical Gardens, which turns out to be a 4km error, so after wandering up and down the road trying to find them, I have a coffee to recover and jump on the bus. It's closed when I get there because... it's Monday.

So back on the bus into town to try and buy boot waterproofing and another pair of running socks; much better than Marino wool liners because they are elasticated to fit left and right feet and don't wrinkle inside the outer socks. Mission accomplished. Sports wear seems a lot cheaper here. They cost me £4.50 instead of £17.00! My feet will decide. 

I pass the Apple dealer and get further reassurance about my phone and then find the bus station to buy a ticket for tomorrow. People are so patient with my less than basic Spanish.

Gijón is a big city. Most of the modern part is ugly tile-clad blocks of flats with shops at street level, but it's vibrant. Still very few chain stores; plenty of individual classy boutiques, haberdashers, fabric, baby wear and shoe shops, as well as hundreds of small bars. I come across the market and wander through admiring the jamon, cheeses and fresh fruit and vegetables and then have a tortilla and beer at 2.30pm; there's a poster for a bull fight on the wall in the bar.

 All things bright and beautiful  

All things bright and beautiful  

 In honour of St Peter and St John

In honour of St Peter and St John

I finally get back to my room and set out for the beach at 4pm. It's gone! The tide has come in, so I sit and listen to a guitarist play flamenco in the sun and watch the vast selection of dogs and their owners stroll by. It's strange to have stopped here for three nights; I feel I have caught up with myself and I'm excited to see my father and Linda tomorrow.

 Flamenco by the playa

Flamenco by the playa

Now I'm sitting in the evening sun in a square with lots of chattering Spaniards, drinking a glass of white wine and pinchos (bar snack) which are free and left on the bar to nibble. Mussels and ham on small rounds of bread. No pilgrims in sight...I'm in another world.

 Enjoying the evening sun

Enjoying the evening sun

I wonder around to find supper and order a salad; huge. The locals drink vast amounts of sidra. You usually have to buy 750cl bottles and it's poured in small amounts into straight-sided tumblers from about 2 foot and then gulped immediately - no sipping.

 Cider bottle 'tree' on the harbour quay

Cider bottle 'tree' on the harbour quay