Walking. We do it a lot and, with no car, it is our primary mode of transportation. It’s a good thing as it allows us to explore the nooks and crannies of the city we would not necessarily see in a car or on a bus route. It also allows us to eat bread, cake, and wine almost daily without having to buy new pants. Buying new pants would really eat into my bread, cake, and wine budget.
From many points in the city, one can view a tall clock tower in the distance but we did not know what it was until recently. As part of the city of Gijon’s summer activities (I will write another post with more information on these later), Phil read about a concert being held there, at the Universidad Laboral de Gijon. The complex, originally built as a learning center for orphans, now hosts several cultural institutions (the wikipedia page is worth a read and has great photos). The Universidad is an hour walk from our place and the concert was at 10pm on a Thursday soooooooo, we decided skip that one. We still wanted to make a visit though and when we asked our Profesora about it, she highly recommended we see it. She told us from the top of the clock tower, one can view all of Gijon. The botanical gardens are also right next door, so a real twofer as far as checking out cool stuff.
We decided to make the trek to check out the Universidad Laboral de Gijon and the Jardin Botanico Atlantico de Gijon. We packed a lunch and off we went. The weather was perfect (almost no humidity!) with sunshine and a gentle breeze. The walk felt like it took no time at all. We arrived on the backside of the campus and could not find a way through to the court yard or clock tower. We were about to turn back and walk around the building when we saw a lower level door wide open, so walked on through. It had a very “college campus in the summer” feel, kind of abandoned with no one around but still opened. We saw a sign that read “salida al patio” (exit to the patio) and walked up the stairs toward the door. We exited on the extremely impressive courtyard of the Universidad. It is huge and architecturally stunning. The clock tower and church were both closed (our profesora later told us we could call to make an appointment for a private tour) so we enjoyed our time just walking around the campus and having a picnic lunch in a little nook off the courtyard. We saw at most ten other people the entire time we were there.
My feet were a little tired after our walkabout but the Jardin Botanico was so close, it seemed silly not to go, and it did not disappoint. We walked around the grounds for almost two hours and saw about half of the 25 hectacre grounds (61 acres). We will definitely be going back because it was SO cool! It was populated with fruit trees, flowers from all over the world, poisonous plants in a labyrinth, huge, beautiful trees (including the biggest eucalyptus I have ever seen), dahlias which are super cool because their leaves are almost black which makes the color pop even more, and a ton of other cool plants and nature stuff. Although we passed other people here and there, for the most part, we felt alone, which was also very nice.
After a couple of hours, we were both pretty pooped so we decided to head home. There’s a bus stop right outside of the gardens and we thought it would be a great opportunity to try the city’s bus service and give our feet a rest. We waited about ten minutes before the number 18 rolled in. There were only two other folks on the bus and a short ride later, we got off at a stop near our place. We walked right on past our apartment and directly to the heladeria (ice-cream shop). I had a double scoop; one pistachio and one chocolate and Phil chose strawberry and hazelnut chocolate, both on sugar cones. We sat and ate our ice cream on a bench overlooking the water, which was a perfect way to end a perfect day.