Whilst staying in L’Estartit, we decided to spend a day in Girona, about 25 miles away. Earlier this year we passed Girona on our way to France and at the time said we wanted to come back and explore. So here we are, but only for one day.
Girona is one of the major Catalan cities, only 40 minutes by express train from Barcelona. We did some research and decided what we wanted to see whilst here. Luckily, unlike Barcelona, Girona’s centre is small so we could take in the sights and atmosphere in a nice relaxed way.
The city’s Cathedral dominates the skyline being built on raised ground. There are 86 steps leading up to its main entrance but the building itself isn’t imho very impressive. See what you think….
Do you recognise the picture of the cathedral steps? Apparently locations around Girona were used to depict the free city of Essos in season 6 of Game of Thrones. I haven’t been watching the series but apparently this is true!
Behind the Cathedral is the old medieval fortifications consisting of a long wall interspersed with towers. The views from here over the city are supposed to be great, unfortunately the day we visited was overcast so the mountains in the distance are very hazy.
The wall and towers had been extensively repaired, sadly with modern looking red brick which spoils it but it at least clearly shows what was original and what isn’t.
Mid morning we stopped for coffee and indulged in a local delicacy; Xuixo (pronounced shushu). It’s a deep-fried, sugar-coated cylindrical pastry filled with crema Catalana, naughty but very nice…
We meandered through some of the city streets …..
Before crossing the river Onya lined with colourful buildings. Although there are many bridges over the river, the most well known one was built by Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We crossed the river to the Plaça de Independència named after the Spanish war of independence against Napoleon.
We also strolled through the old Jewish quarter which remains well preserved considering the Jewish community was expelled or forced to convert way back in 1492… in effect what we saw was some well preserved medieval city streets….
Some more eccentric things to see was the lion’s arse, which if you’re so minded, you can kiss to ensure a return visit to the city. Really. Not in my universe. The mural/graffiti is painted on the side of an old people’s home….
I’ve mentioned seeing lots of yellow ribbon symbols of the Catalan Independence movement, along with the Catalonian flag. Here are a few examples…
And a heartfelt plea from the locals…
There it is, the reminder that tourism has its negative as well as positive points.
Two things have stuck out about Catalonia that mark it as different from where we’ve been further south; the food and the language. On the food front we’re back to eating hearty mountain fare – sausage and bean stews, grilled meat and the local cannelloni. But it’s the language that’s surprised us the most. We expected Spanish with a bit of Catalan but what we got was mostly Catalan. Menus, road signs, opening times, days of the week, ordering a coffee (café amb llet anyone?) etc etc all are very different from Spanish. It’s no wonder there’s widespread support for their independence – it already feels like a different country…
So that concludes our Girona visit. We really liked the city, much more compact and manageable than say, Barcelona which was amazing but huge! We are liking Catalonia in general and hope to come back to explore the whole area a bit more. One to put on the list…..
In my next blog I’ll show you what we saw when we visited Figueres at the Dali Theatre-Museum. Ta ta for now…..