My time in Barcelona soaking up the sun and generally enjoying the city had come to an end, and I was once again on my way to Barcelona Sants. Still a little sore from the last time I got a train from the station and missed it, I was there with plenty of time to spare. A smooth journey took me to the nearby city of Girona, where my first stop was: lunch!
I’d booked to stay in student accommodation, so after enjoying a delicious jamon and tomato jam roll, it was just a short walk from the train station to drop my bags off. My favourite thing to do in a new city on my first day is just have a wander and see what’s about. This was no different, so I made my way down to the river, and took a moment to admire the colourful buildings on the river Onyar.
Along Rambla de la Llibertat, past charming shops and cafes that spilled out into the street, I had no idea of where I was going, not that it mattered. Yellow ribbons were hung everywhere – in trees, on balconies, lampposts, paths and buildings. The yellow ribbons represent a show of support for the political prisoners in the pro-independence movement, and while I have always seen them in Barcelona, they were more widespread in Girona.
The cobble stone streets of Girona old town are so pretty, and I stopped in several of the shops just to have a look around. I quickly spotted a xuixo in one of the bakeries, and always looking for an excuse to try something new, picked one up to sample after dinner. Eventually nearing the cathedral, I found a spot in a cafe to sit and grab a drink. Children gathered on the steps to a nearby church, posing for a photo. People were approaching the nearby statue of a lion and kissing its bum. I had no idea why, and figured it was the same as people rubbing Juliet’s boob in Verona. A quick Google search told me it was lucky and would mean you’d return to Girona at some point.
I’d spotted some places I wanted to check out properly the next day, but after a quick dinner that still wasn’t the paella I was craving, I made my way back to my room to chill out for the evening. And seeing as there was no air-con, it was difficult.
I’d managed to avoid the rain for months, but it had finally caught up with me. The next morning was a washout, and I hadn’t packed for rain so spent a few hours in my room relaxing, catching up on things and thinking about my next stop. After venturing out for a coffee, the rain thankfully stopped and it was time to go exploring. The humidity was next level and I felt like my whole body was covered in a thin layer of lingering rain before long. Delightful.
Walking through the old town in search of an entrance to the city walls, it was impossible not to fall in love with the gorgeous stone buildings, charming restaurants hidden away and cobble stone streets. Not so much with the stairs, which seemed endless and hard work in the humidity. Before long the entrance appeared and I climbed to the top of the old city walls. Following the walls towards the cathedral, it was a must to ascende the small towers to get some amazing panoramic views of the city in all its hazy beauty.
Coming to the end of the section of wall I’d climbed, Jardins dels Alemanys – German Gardens – appeared, stunning gardens in a ‘castle ruins’ kind of way. They hold events there and I can imagine it’s even prettier at night, although the bright blue benches somewhat ruin the aesthetic. As the rain started to threaten again, I made a dash in the direction of the nearby cathedral. I spotted a sign for the French Gardens, and ever intrigued popped my head in to see what was going on. Pretty, but seen in a few minutes, so it was back to the cathedral.
I’m a fan of churches. I say it all the time, but I really enjoy the peace and quiet in a church. Although I’m not religious, I love how much the buildings mean to so many people and the hard work that does in to designing and building them. Girona Cathedral was no different, and after a look around I took a seat for a bit to admire some of the smaller details I missed just walking round.
Church time done, I ventured down the steps which were used as a filming set for Game of Thrones and back to the cafe by the statue everyone likes to kiss. I wasn’t back to kiss the statues rear, I was on the hunt for xuixo. I’d picked one up yesterday, and it was amazing. Beyond amazing. I loved it so much that I was desperate to get another. Sadly, it was quite late in the day by this point so after I found the same bakery, they were sold out!
Slightly gutted but determined to keep my eyes open, I decided to venture to the other side of the river via the Pont de les Peixateries Velles. Anyone with a keen eye will think ‘ah, that reminds me of the Eiffel Tower’. Rightly so, because it was designed by none other than Mr Eiffel himself. The views from the bridge are stunning of the colourful buildings on the river.
Turning the corner to check out Plaça de la Independència, a large square with cafes, I saw a long queue for a shop. My hopes soared, thinking that all these people knew about xuixo too and were queueing for one! Turns out they weren’t, but as I turned around disappointed I spotted a bakery. It was a small, dark, local bakery, and as I stepped in and scanned the shelves I saw very little. Until…a giant xuixo! I was so excited but limited myself to just one, dreaming of tucking in to the crispy croissant-doughnut-esque pastry filled with a delicious custard.
As I carried on walking to the square, it seemed only right to allow myself one bite. It was the size of a normal croissant, so there’d be plenty left for after dinner. By the time I’d walked around the square and started heading back to the room, I’d eaten it all. No regrets.
After a chilled evening in my room, next morning I was up and packing. It was time to leave Girona already and head to my next destination. I’d umm’ed and ahh’ed about heading to Bordeaux in France, but just didn’t fancy France so decided to stay in Spain and head to a place I’d heard people mention but had no idea about. Time to find out I guess, after a quick visit to the nearby market, I was off to Logroño!