Photos of Gijón, Spain & Konstanz, Germany


  • Oct. 5, fly Denver to Miami to Madrid to Gijón, Spain.
  • Oct. 14, fly Gijón to Madrid to Zurich, train to Konstanz, Germany.
  • Oct 18, Reverse that.
  • Oct 29, fly Gijón to Madrid to Chicago. Lose your day-pack with your laptop, razor, rain jacket, headlamp, and favorite hair brush (or have it stolen…dunno—it will have been a very long day). Chicago to Denver. Discover Lyft wants about $125 to go to Lafayette, so bus to Boulder and take Lyft from there.


In the Madrid-Barajas airport, you cannot find out certain gate numbers until you get to Terminal 4 (T4, boasting “70 million passengers per year”). There you find T4S is set aside for countries, such as the US, that lie outside of the Schengen Area, the 26 EU countries that abolished their passport requirements. At T4S, you find, you hope, the H-J-K concourses, and only then can you learn the gate.

I found a fellow returning from Peru. Like me, he was also going to the autonomous region of Asturias. After an uncomfortable introduction that ended, “I’m lost” (in English), he could, it seemed, feel my pain and got me to the gate. After that I started using Spanish to speak to strangers.

No hablo castellano coupled with ¿Entiende inglés? got me through the Madrid airport the next 3 times. Madrid-Barajas airport is big enough to confuse a native speaker, I suppose. Soon as people know that I’m basically lost, they try to help me out.


Gijón provides my daughter Mindy and her husband Josh the opportunity to teach English. It also, somehow, provides them with an apartment that overlooks the San Lorenzo beach, which I assume is a part of the Bay of Biscay.

But, hey, let’s cut to the photos.

mindy apartment
Mindy & Josh make the teacher’s life look enviable

Playa de San Lorenzo
From their window: Playa San Lorenzo. We loved the 6-mile walkway around the bay

low tide
When the tide falls all tide pools rise

mindy and myself
The walkway leads to that distant hill, winds around, passes a marina, and continues another mile or so

woman statue
I liked this woman who looked out toward the sea

Monument to the emigrant’s mother; on Tripadvisor, Dr. Tim posts, “This beautiful statue is in honor of the Mothers of the Asturians that emigrated to find a land with more opportunity. The Mother is saying goodbye to her children with the wave of her hand. The look on her face is haunting in that it is despair, fear and loneliness yet hope for a bright future.”
She and I saw a lot of each other…I’d walk the 2k to her and then run back home
Mindy Josh
Mindy and Josh run much faster and further, so I’d start walking early, they’d catch me, pass me, and turn around to walk back with me
Josh and me
Lots of surf school events…no expert but I thought it a nice surf, meaning curling waves and not too many killer rocks
So flat and firm, the sand, like the sand at Cannon Beach in Oregon, perfect for running or walking
Josh and Mindy at an outdoor cafe where seagulls would dive bomb tables for food, sometimes annoying the would-be consumers, sometimes hitting an un-bused table so hard that glasses would fly to the ground
I failed to capture a dive bomb in action so this fellow will have to stand in
hot chocolate
It was here I ordered “hot chocolate’ (no doubt Mindy or Josh ordered it in the native tongue)—what arrived was a cup of melted chocolate, semi-sweet; it will be missed

Zurich and Konstanz

Ich spreche Deutsch, ein bisschen. I do speak a little, but my friend, Thorsten (with a silent “h”), has, as do many Germans, immaculate English—so I spoke less than I knew—a relief to all involved, I confess.

Madrid airport
Flying Swiss Air out of Madrid

Somewhere over France perhaps
Kindly, Thorsten met me at the Zurich airport so we could catch the train north-east to Konstanz together; if the front-pack looks inconvenient it’s because he’s traveling with a typical backpack but also, by popular demand, needed his foldable guitar
I love the public transportation in Switzerland and Germany, thankful that I had a personal guide to get me on the right train, for they are many

I research places after I visit them. One small advantage is that I see them with little bias. As someone said, no one can any longer see the Grand Canyon, because they’ve seen representations of it so often that they conflate their expectations with the thing itself. One downside of my approach is that I am, as I was in the Madrid airport the first time, truly ignorant and, well, lost.

The biggest illustration of that ignorance was a question I asked Thorsten the night we arrived, before I had seen anything but lighted buildings: “This Lake Konstanz, is it big or small, is it worth a half day walk around or just a brief visit?”[1]

At this point, a lesser German would have fainted through laughter. Thorsten simply said it was big.

map of Lake Kontanz
It’s best to click on this map, but the legend is as follows:
1. We walked to Switzerland twice one day, a powerful feeling, and the longer walk led to this area
2. Thorsten rented us bicycles and we rode around Reichenau, a peninsula
3. The city itself, our room in Konstanz was on the south side of the Rhine
4. Nice walk in this direction, finally reaching a bus to take us back to town
5. German-Switzerland border (dark line, but no border guards, just vacant check stations)

from Airbnb
From the room we rented; the town is adjacent to Lake Konstanz (aka Bodensee); hence the routine fog in the morning

We were in Konstanz on a farmer’s market day, indulging in cheese and olives
Germany bakeries are well respected, but I had to strongly admonish Thorsten to buy me something sweet—that guy eats way too well

The Rhine, the part that connects the upper lake with the lower lake, the part that divides the city

This is the bridge over the untroubled waters of the Rhine, whose water is perfectly clear

Standard majestic building, which Thorsten reminded me was once occupied by … so sad

Thorsten reminds me, this church “is the first and very old one on the Reichenau (Church Sankt Georg)”

This is the first crossing into Switzerland (from the German side)

From the shore of Switzerland we looked across the Rhine to Germany; if we had walked further, we could have looked across the lake toward the peninsula, Reichenau (where we biked)

This is the second crossing into Switzerland

This might be Switzerland, but it was the big chess pieces (that someone moved off their big board not shown) that caught my eye
Reichenau cafe
Yes, we biked around the periphery of Reichenau, making a cafe stop where we had, if I recall, onion pie (this is as far as Thorsten usually goes on the sweets spectrum)
East Simpson shirt
Thorsten faithfully wears the shirt he bought at the cafe in Lafayette where we used to listen to live music, when he visited in 2019
foldable guitart
This is the guitar being folded up after our stay in Konstanz. The neck unhinges in 2 places, so that it (while still strung) fits into the body of the guitar—which has a nice tone

The guitar would only get packed if our time was up. What a host he was, and a nice city, even though neither it, nor the rest of Germany I learned, appreciates credit cards. In the end, Thorsten had to purchase my train ticket to Zurich…I was low on Euros. Thanks, friend.

Gijón, Xixón

Back in Gijón, I see again the white tent that was built when I first arrived. Looks as though it may be permanent, a home for judges of triathlons and surfing contests
mindy at studio
Mindy’s Spanish teaching videos have not gone viral yet, but I suppose the University of Missouri (where she teaches remotely) isn’t allowing that
sand art
This man would create a different sculpture each weekend in one of the only patches of the beach that escaped high tide. Behind the reading man we see, “Xixón” (Gijón being “a Castilianization of the Asturian name”) [2]
door lock
I couldn’t figure out why we had to turn the key about 7 times to get into the apartment until I saw this safe-quality system… each turn extended/retracted more bolts (also into the floor and ceiling sections)
mindy on beach
Mindy on the beach (Playa de San Lorenzo)
The notable thing here is my tee shirt “telepizza”—I didn’t pack short sleeve shirts, so Mindy & I picked up three of these beauties, all red, for a dollar each…I was set!

Thorsten’s videos haven’t gone viral yet, either, but they certainly deserve a listen if you like acoustic guitar, a bit of melancholy, and the chance to hear a foldable guitar:



[1] I was thinking down the lines of Ashley Pond in my home town (which was named after Ashley Pond, making it Ashley Pond Pond).

[2] According to the Wikipedia article Gijón. Since 1978, Spain has nine autonomous communities in order to guarantee limited autonomy (Autonomous communities of Spain). Many signs and markers appear in at least two languages, and I’m not sure they’re always the same two in Gijón. A linguist’s dreamland.