A few weeks ago we explored Asturias from a somewhat unusual perspective. The Principality invited us to tour around the region of cows, granaries and fresh milk, to add value ??to traditional customs such as cider ?culines’ or the famous bean stew or fabada by experiencing them through a more modern perspective. Although I’m no stranger to this land?I have Asturian ancestors?the truth is that the time I spent there was a nice surprise because I had the chance to corroborate my intuition: Asturias is very cool. We travelled with our friends Angie and Lucuos from Heels&Cigarettes, Xavi and Antonella from Lamono, Davinia and Laura from TendenciasTv and Charlie from Trends&Topics. As you can imagine, with such company the trip could only be a success. We started off from Gijón, a city I have a weakness for? Blame it on the Boogie.
Gijón?Asturias’ largest city?stands out nationally for its cultural background. However, the capital of the region is Oviedo, Gijón’s eternal rival, the place of carbayones, a famous tree and also an addictive typical sweet. Locals call people from Gijón culo moyaos (wet arses) because they live by the sea. Back in the 1990s, Gijón gained a spot on the Spanish cultural map thanks to the Xixón Sound, a music scene that produced legendary bands like Australian Blonde, Penelope Trip, Undershakers, Manta Ray, Doctor Explosion, Nosoträsh and Nacho Vegas, among others. In addition to the geographic coincidence, all these bands had something else in common: they all admired bands like Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine, to name a few. Although the Xixón Sound is now a thing of the past, Gijón continues being a very musical city. Here are some of the events not to be missed in Gijón:
*April 3-5: Gijón Sound Festival. The event, held in different streets of the city, presents a bill with national and international bands that seeks to keep the city’s musical tradition.
*May 2-3: L.E.V. It stands for Visual Electronics Laboratory. The festival revolves around electronic music and all its branches. We won’t miss it this year!
*July: La Semana Negra. A great plan for fans of crime and detective novels. The event was founded 27 years ago. During 10 days in summer, you can enjoy concerts, exhibitions, flea markets and culinary competitions.
*July 31-August 3: Euro Yeyé. Gijón’s mod tradition is well known. Euro Yeyé is a festival that celebrates mod aesthetics.
*November: Festival Internacional de Cine de Gijón. A festival for film lovers, it was first organized 25 years ago and today it’s still celebrated in the recently renovated Jovellanos Theatre.
All these events offer an added value to visit Gijón, although it should be noted that the city’s offer is already abundant. There is so much to see, from the San Lorenzo Beach, with stripped tents in summer, to the Mirador de la Providencia, El Elogio del Horizonte by Eduardo Chillida on the Santa Catalina Hill, a giant sculpture popularized by the promo pictires of The Suicide of Western Culture and that is called by locals ‘King Kong’s Toilet’. The city has two main streets, the Paseo Begoña and the Calle Corrida that reaches Cimadevilla, Gijón’s charming old city.
Where to Eat
*La Pause. Here is one of Gijón’s most cosmopolitan areas. Ideal for breakfast or tea and, as its name suggests, for having a break. Their homemade cakes are delicious. Don’t miss their cream cake!
*El Globo. One of the city’s most legendary cider bars, a must stop to taste traditional gastronomy. Try their soups, sea urchins and cider. Average price: 15-20 euros.
*Ataulfo. Asturian high cuisine in the city centre. Their seafood honours the Asturian coast, and so does its rice with lobster, a house classic that is never disappointing. Average price: 40-50 euros.
*Tasca de Cabrales. Asturian classic food is revisited in this classy modern tavern that serves tapas in a contemporary version. Their wine list is one of the largest in the city. Average price: 30 euros.
*Crocante. This is one of our favourite places. The restaurant is located in a modest house in Cimadevilla and is run by David, who unleashes his imagination using what he’s learned from Asturias’ most experienced cooks. His gyozas are as spectacular as his grilled octopus or his steak. Average price: 30 euros.
*El Medio Lleno. Located in a somewhat more affluent residential area, El Medio Lleno serves tapas, Japanese dishes and a Nutella pizza. Average price: 30 euros.
*La Galana. Here is another popular cider bar located in Cimadevilla’s main square. Try their stes, tortos?corn tortillas cooked on a pan?with chorizo ??and morcilla, local meat and Asturian cheeses, as well as the classic rice pudding.
Where to Eat ? Michelín Stars
Asturias also stands out for its many Michelin stars, 8 to be exact:
*La Salgar. Just when we arrived, bothers Esther and Nacho Manzano were given a second Michelin star. Power to creativity and technique.
*Casa Gerardo. Inside a house that goes unnoticed for non-experts, there is a restaurant that serves the most spectacular fabadas in Asturias. Pedro and Marcos Morán, father and son, run the restaurant.
*Auga-El Puerto. Contemporary market food by Gonzalo Pañeda and Antonio Pérez. Fortunately, the views are included in the bill.
*Casa Marcial (Arriondas). Although it isn’t in Gijón, it is very close to it. Nacho Manzano is responsible for this restaurant. Asturias’ typical produce reinterpreted.
*El Corral del Indianu (Arriondas). Another paradise for food lovers. José Antonio Campoviejo runs a restaurant whose star dish is chicken innards with oyster in a pure state.
Where to Buy
The shopping area is concentrated in a few streets in the city centre. In addition to the common multinational retail stores, Gijón’s particular Soho with its charming stores deserves a special mention. Here’s a selection of boutiques:
*Carmen Nieto. This is a boutique that one would expect to find in Barcelona or Madrid. It’s an exquisite showroom where the designer shows and sells her own creations?clothes and accessories?and where she celebrates all kinds of events and presentations.
*La Florería. Argentinian Inés fell in love with Gijón’s nature. She decided to turn it into art and sell it in a flower shop where beauty isn’t necessarily expensive.
*Paradiso. Established almost 40 years ago, it is considered one among Spain’s ten best vinyl stores. They also sell books.
*Librería Cornión. A magnificent bookshop that is also an art gallery and the workshop of artist Edgar Plans.
*Ciclos Esplendor. The biking fever has also reached Asturias. There are many bike lanes in the city and a store devoted to bikes run by Pelayo. A classic.
*La Merced. Before the vintage fever reached the wardrobes of half the hipster population, this beautiful store with a New York loft air was already selling second-hand clothes. They combine vintage clothes with new clothes by Lanvin or Dior. A highlight: its prices.
*La Merced. Natural cosmetics made by the passionate owners of this coquettish place.
*La Sombrerería. As its name indicates, here you can find classy hats of all kinds and colours.
*Elle Est Belle. Gourment perfumes from the world’s most exquisite houses. You can aqlso customize your own perfume and get your nails done at the back (manicure and pedicure).
*The Monkey Club. Another classic venue to enjoy good concerts and recomendable Dj sessions.
*Plaza. A classic in Cimadevilla that gets better and better over time. Indie music and a real Asturian ambiance. Located on Travesía de la Corrada with Atocha, one of Cimadevilla’s main plazas.
*Eltraspaso. This is an example of traditional bar that becomes a meeting point for friends. A nice place to start the night.
*LABoral. At Laboral it’s all travelling exhibitions, so checking out its program is always a pleasant surprise. We visited the photo exhibition Aprendiendo de las cuencas, which shows the transformation of former coalfields by famous architects, as well as Inercia, by local artist David Martínez Suárez. The best came near the end: the handbag and accessories store Cucareliquia, that emphasizes craftsmanship and employs many traditional professional trades. Masters of the prêt-à-porter. You can see some of their pieces above these lines.
*La Casa Rosa. This indiana home is the workshop and home of the famous Spaniard painter Roberto Diaz Orosia, who has devoted most of his life to portray Asturian local customs from a very critical and satirical perspective. The building is a clear example of the influence of the citizens who moved to America in the early twentieth century in search of a better life and spent some of their money building houses like this one. It can be visited by appointment only on Fridays. Also, you can try the artisan cider produced there.
Where to Sleep
*Hotel Abba. Although it is a business hotel, it is incredibly charming for its fascinating views of the San Lorenzo beach.
*Parador de Gijón. This charming Parador is located in an old mill in the Isabel la Católica park, among peacocks and birds on their free will. Located near the Molinón, Gijón’s football stadium.
*Hotel Quinta Duro. The best option for those seeking peace on the outskirts of the city. This beautiful country house is well worth it.
*Casona de Cefontes. Here is another magnificent rural setting just 5 kilometers from Gijón. If you liked our tour around Gijón, don’t miss our next post on CityTrips. Next Stop: Oviedo.
Pictures by our friends from Heels&Cigarettes