07.05.22 — Travel

My Birthday in Gijón

I’m not a real fan of my birthday – those of you who know me will know that I’ve a decade-old habit of rescheduling my birthday so that I can celebrate it on a day that best suits me. I’m usually in a sulk every 30th of April, and so this year I decided that I’d spend it alone and out of Madrid, taking time to disconnect and rest after a busy start to the year.

And so, with my friends assured that I’d celebrate my big day this summer, I decided to head off by myself. I’m lucky in a sense that here in Madrid there’s always a long weekend for my birthday, and so I booked myself into a hotel in Gijón in the north of Spain.

With a backpack prepared, I left work on Friday and searched for my carshare up to the Asturias. The trip was a lovely one, and the four of us spent the whole journey chatting and putting the world to rights, all whilst accompanied by a lovely little dog called Theo who snoozed most of the ride.

After stopping off for a bite to eat and to stretch our legs along the way (where I found a creepy looking play area that I was obsessed with, hence the photos), I arrived at the hotel at around 11pm. I headed out for a quick bite to eat and then collapsed into the huge bed that the friendly lady at reception had assigned me – complete with sea views over a very dark and foggy Gijón.

I then awoke to my first day as a 27-year-old and spent the morning in a mood, mooching around in bed until I eventually had to ged up and showered, for my plans to spend my birthday alone had been somewhat scarpered.

As luck would have it, my friend Cami had moved to Asturias less than a week before my visit, and was staying with Andrei and Andrea, two other friends who live just outside of Gijón. I’d eventually ceded and agreed to have lunch with them to celebrate another year older – and I wound up very glad that I did!

Leaving the hotel, I immediately realised I’d left too little time to get to the restaurant on time, as I’d no idea how the public transport works in Gijón. I then missed the bus thanks to my refusal to run, spent ten minutes or so trying to hail already occupied taxis, and eventually managed to grab one that would take me to the place I needed to go. I spent the journey peering out of the window, catching my first glimpses of a side of Gijón that I’d never seen by day.

Arriving at the restaurant, I was greeted by Cami, Andrea, and Andrei, the latter two of whom I’d not seen since I nipped up to Oviedo to visit Kevin when he was back in Spain last year. The four of us then had an absolute whale of a time, munching through a huge plate of seafood, drinking cider, and having a great laugh and a catch up.

With the traditional Asturian cider flowing rather freely and the later discovery of “cider gin and tonic” on the drinks menu, things soon got a little out of hand, and we ended up befriending a group of guys on a stag do whilst we waited for the desserts to arrive. We then ate what we could of those – they were huge – and then headed down to a bar on the beach to carry on with a few cocktails.

Looking back, the Asturian cider-infused gin and tonics might have been a bit too much…

We then continued to have an absolutely fabulous time down at “La Buena Vida”, with a special moment being when one of my cocktails came with a little firework attached to it. I was told to try and blow it out – that was a disaster waiting to happen!

When there’s no space for cake, a pyrotechnic cocktail will have to do!

Catastrophic fires averted, we continued to chat the afternoon away there. Andrei and Andrea eventually headed home, but me and Cami had decided that we were going to carry on and go out around Gijón that evening.

This turned out to be a rather optimistic plan, as we eventually ended up napping for over three hours in my hotel room, awaking with heavy heads and upset stomachs. We decided that we had to eat something, however, and so booked some Japanese food to pick up.

When we went down to pick up the food, the restaurant turned out to be a really pretty little space. We asked the waitress if we could eat in, something she graciously let us do, and so Cami and I enjoyed our delicious meal on a side street just a few minutes from the hotel.

After a quick call to my parents, Cami and I then decided to head down into the city centre for one quick cocktail. Finding a chill little bar, we had some delicious custom cocktails made for us by the waiter, who was happy to make one with gin after I told him that I didn’t want to keep on mixing drinks after the day I’d had!

The next day we awoke to slightly cloudier weather, but eventually decided to head out for some breakfast at a place that we’d looked up in the centre. We wandered along the seafront and into Catlove, where we had a delicious breakfast and a couple of coffees to keep us going.

With such a slap-up breakfast, we resolved that lunch was unnecessary, and so spent a few hours exploring the centre and Cimavilla. This lovely outcrop of land offers panoramic views over the sea, beaches, and ports of the city, and was one of my favourite spots the first time I visited Gijón back in 2017.

As the afternoon wore on and we grew tired, Cami headed back home. I carried on wandering for a while, taking the chance to call my sister Ellie and have a catch up with her whilst basking in the sea air. I then headed back to the hotel, where I spent a good two hours on a video call with Megan. This was in order to get some ideas and some plans in place for my upcoming trip to the US and Canada this summer – exciting!

After the call, I spent a relaxing evening in the hotel. I took the chance to write my last blog post, work on the new design of my website, and pop a face mask on that I’d been gifted for Christmas. It was a lovely way to end a fabulous birthday weekend in the special place that is Asturias.

My final morning was quite a swift one, as I spent most of it in bed. I eventually had to get a shuffle on around 11am, as at midday I’d to vacate the room and I was hopping back in the same carshare to take me back home to Madrid. I headed out to grab a quick coffee and a pastry for breakfast, and then sat awaiting the arrival of my ride back south next to an abandoned glass of cider – only in Asturias!

I had an absolutely lovely weekend up north in Gijón, and I’ve to thank Cami, Andrea, and Andrei for dragging me out on my birthday and forcing me to have such a great time. Being away for my weekend might just have to become an anual tradition!