Published: March 30th 2011January 11th 2011
Spain hates me. Really. Even my Spanish friends have now said in confusion, wow - Spain must really hate you.
After my disaster in Balaguer I left Spain confident in the knowledge that I had a better job to go to in the new year. I was on a contract of 25 hours, 2 hours of which were paid planning time. I was going to have clases of both children and adults. I'd seen photos of well equipped school without the hated blackboards I'd been suffering in my pevious job. Even better, the job was in a nice looking town in Girona province and in easy travelling distance of my friends. Or so I thought.
While enjoying my christmas holidays with my family I received a very unexpected email from the school saying basically that due to the current economic crisis they simply hadn't secured enough new students to warrent paying another teacher and in a midst of apologies and helpless assertations that they really couldn't do anything about the situation basically told me that my job was gone.
My christmas holidays turned into a whirlwind search for a new job in Catalonia where live my friends and contacts and more
importantly at this stage, my suitcase and bags of books carefully left in storage over the christmas break. Thankfully I quickly found a new job, did a successful interview, accepted on the spot and awaited the contract to come through via email. The email that came merely informed me that unfortunately the teacher I was to replace had had a sudden change of heart and would be staying in Spain, thus they no longer required a new teacher.
Undaunted I tracked down other posible jobs and applied to several. The replies I received were mostly along the theme of 'oh is that advert still on the website? We're very sorry that position was filled a couple of weeks ago... the new term starts in January you know, we couldn't wait that long.' Getting a little desperate I did a thorough internet search and tracked down email addresses of lanaguage schools and acadamies across Catalonia. I wrote a poilte letter inquiring about any possible vacancies, and sent it with my CV and three stunning reference letters from previous jobs to over 60 different schools. The job offers came flooding in.
I was offered numerous part time jobs, none of them with
enough hours to allow me to live in Spain and bizarrely none with compatable schedules so I could accept a pair of jobs. Then came the offers from all the schools outside of Catalonia. I can only summise that these schools have several branches and merely passed my email on. I was offered jobs in Seville, Granada, along the border of France... even completely outside of Spain!
Not yet ready to give up hope I trawled through the job listing websites again and found a perfect job. Quickly applying the same day I sat back confident I must hear from them soon. I didn't. Worried my email had been lost in cyber space I sent an apologetic letter and resent my application. A few days later I phoned the school only to find a confused secretary saying they knew nothing of my first email and my second had been recieved two days after they'd held the interviews.
I finally had to admit defeat. My bad luck hadn't quite ended though since I already had flights booked to Spain with a return date in July. The cost of changing the dates seemed to equal a cheap Ryanair flight so I simply
had to book new flights at more convenient dates and head off to Spain to reclaim my luggage, travelling with an empty suitcase in order to split the weight and hopefully reduce the costs coming back.
I boarded my flight at Gatwick, in no mood for travel or anything else. I suprisingly had a good flight, got through the tiny airport easily and as I stood waiting for my empty suitcase caught a glimpse of a friendly face through the double doors.
I hurried out to meet my friend who drove me to his garage and my abandoned possessions. Groping around in the suitcase I pulled out the quilt and blankets and other things lent to me by my other friend, so I could take the train to Barcelona and return them all. I passed a good night in a hostel in Girona. A good night's sleep meant I woke up feeling more positive about my whole situation. I have no job, I can't stay in Spain, I'm wasting a lot of money in retreiving my belongings but... I am in Spain, the sun is shining, I get to visit my friends and go sightseeing. It's bascially a holiday!
cornflakes and caffeine things started to seem even better and I grabbed my camera and strolled out onto the streets.
I took myself on a walking tour, walking along the rather quiet streets, crossing the distinctive red bridge designed by Eiffel, and meandering through Girona's incredibly beautiful little streets and alleyways. I reached the cathedral and moved on down the road, finding the Arab baths. Since this was a place I didn't visit the last time I was in Girona it seemed like a good place to go this time around.
Although known as the Arab Baths the building is actually a romanesque structure dating from 1194. This is the only public bathhouse discovered from medieval Christian Spain, when, in reaction to the Muslim obsession with water and cleanliness and a widely held view that water carried disease, washing was regarded as almost ungodly. The baths became public property in 1929 at which point they were restored and opened to the public. I enjoyed the relatively breif visit. The baths are not extensive but they did make for a pleasant visit. I walked through the rooms, starting at the Apodyterium, or changing room, with its impressive carved pillars circling a
clear pool. After that the other rooms were a little underwhelming, although still interesting. The baths contain a frigidarium and tepidarium (with respectively cold and warm water) and a caldarium (like a sauna). After that, I emerged outside and follwed steps up to the roof level before coming down the metal spiral staircase in the entrance hall.
I left and walked into the courtyard opposite and from there found the very pretty Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants. The monastery was built in the 12th century and later in the 14th century the sanctuary and belfry were fortified as part of the city's walled in precinct. I walked across the little bridge over a dry ditch and explored th eexterior of the building and the small garden and scummy looking pond. I cam out on the street and walked around the outside of the building eventually arriving back where I'd started.
I followed the path on upwards walking along the old city walls, stopping at a tiny chapel of St Christopher and then relaxing at a quiet spot behind Girona's cathedral, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona. I followed the ruined walls further coming eventually to the Antiga Casernas
de Alemanys, the pretty gardens contained within the ruined walls. I wandered around the quiet space, enjoying the peacefulness of it. The old walls stand, parts wrapped in tangled ivy and vines, empty windows gazing sightlessly across the small spaces dotted with benches and trees. The old crumbling stones form half-rooms, walls almost joining, in places showing evidence of upper floors or ceilings where now is only the open sky.
I wandered through an old metal gate into another little garden clearing andmounted the steps of part of the old city walls, finding myself on a grassy hillock above the stone walls, covered with lavender and rosemary bushes and a row of cacti plants around the edge. The area had a few low wooden seats and view in both directions, one of the other walls and gardens and one of the city in the other direction and the mountains beyond.
Eventually hunger persuaded me back into town. I walked dwon through the narrow streets and went in search of the supermarket. I found El Dia which momentarily seemed strange as it was the same chain I did my shopping at in Balaguer. I bought food to leave at th ehostel
for dinner and then set off with suitable picnic food and a book, and wound my way back through the narrow streets and up the endless steps back up to my little grassy hill above the city. I found a wooden bench in the sunlight, curled my feet under me and pulled out first food, and then the book. I was briefly interrupted by a Spanish family asking for directions to the other part of the walls but otherwise I was left undisturbed, reading quietly in the warmth of the sun.
There are more photos below