Relaxing in Girona


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Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Girona » Girona
July 29th 2008
Published: December 27th 2008
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I travelled to Girona on Monday which was an exhausting trip. I said goodbye to my landlady and hauled my suitcase into the rickety old lift and found myself back on the front doorstep, bags and all, my month in Barcelona finally over. Unfortunately a month's worth of notes, essays and lesson plans has made my suitcase considerably heavier and it was with some difficulty that I navigated the metro system to the train station at Passeig de Gracia. I smashed my padlock as I dragged my suitcase down the steps, which considering I was still wearing sandals was quite a relief as it could easily have been my toes. When I got to the train station the woman had obviously been dealing with several tourists before me as she addressed me in English making life very easy for me. I arrived in Girona, took a taxi to my hotel and spent a lazy few hours in my room relaxing. The hotel is lovely, the staff are all incredibly helpful and speak perfect English which just puts me to shame really. The hotel has gardens, a swimming pool and a public sitting room with television and internet so I was quite happy spending the rest of the day around the hotel.
The following day I decided it was time I made the effort to go into town and actually do some sightseeing... or at least some grocery shopping! I asked about the advertised bus service at reception and was pointed down the road to the nearest bus stop. I was a little confused as the advert had implied it was a free service provided by the hotel, but maybe it was a quiet day. I waited for the public bus which when it arrived looked more like a tourist coach. Although a small handwritten sign in the window said 'Girona' on it the bus was called 'Barcelona Tours'. I hesitantly got on intending to ask the driver where he was going but no sooner had I climbed on the first step the doors shut behind me and the bus drove off so quickly I had to grab the nearest seat to stop myself flying down the aisle. The bus driver completely ignored me so I decided to take a seat, assuming either it was a free service that went around the nearby hotels, or maybe the driver expected to be paid when I got off. It wasn't until I settled myself into a spare seated that the driver yelled at me to pay. I hastily got back up and offered him some Euro coins. The hooked his arm through the steering wheel while he counted my money and then fished in his pocket for change while I panicked about the fact he was barely keeping an eye on the road. He dimissed me with a wave of his hand and I sat down again hoping the bus was simply going into town and wasn't heading somewhere else entirely. Finally we arrived at a large bus depot. I followed everyone else off and headed purposefully down the first road I saw until I came to some road signs which pointed me in the direction of all the places of historical interest I could want. I spent a pleasant three hours wandering around the town getting my bearings. I saw the church and the cathedral and then bought some food to take back to the hotel with me. I was about to brave the public buses again when I saw an idle taxi driver and decided he looked a lot friendlier than the bus driver so I paid for a stress free ride back to the hotel.
I met Ivan for a day of sightseeing today. We met up with a couple of his friends at a cafe and then walked around the town again. We took the audio tour around the cathedral which was really interesting. Girona Cathedral is built in a mix of styles dating from between the 11th and 18th Centuries. The cloister and a part of the tower date from 1038 while inside the museum is the 12th century Tapestry of the Creation and the 10th century Beatus. We also passed Church of Sant Feliu which was built between the 13th and 17th centuries and wandered around the Jewish quarter which was very atmospheric.
After our tour we visited the local supermarket to buy suitable picnic food to eat in the hotel room and then took an evening walk along the old city walls. In the past Girona has undergone twenty-five sieges and been captured seven times. It was besieged by the French royal armies under Marshal Hocquisicourt in 1653, under Marshal Bellefonds in 1684, and twice in 1694 under de Noailles. In May, 1809, it was besieged by 35,000 French Napoleonic troops under Vergier, Augereau and St. Cyr, and held out obstinately under the leadership of Alvarez until disease and famine compelled it to capitulate on the 12th of December. Finally, the French conquered the city in 1809, after 7 months of siege. The defensive city walls were demolished at the end of the 19th century as the modern city expanded although more recently, the missing parts of the city walls on the eastern side of the city have been reconstructed. More importantly for us it allowed us to walk the entire length uninterrupted and gave us stunning views across the city just as the sun was setting.




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