It took less than an hour to drive to Girona. The aire is very well located, a 10 minute walk from the old town, and a bargain at €12/night. The attendant was very friendly and super helpful, giving us information leaflets and a map of the city. He didn’t speak any English and I made him chuckle with my Spanish.
As we’d arrived early we had the pick of the spaces, and we plugged the van into one of the few hook up points even though we wouldn’t put any money in the meter until the next morning.
Being so close to the centre it was easy to nip backwards and forwards between the van and the old town. The aire was also just a few minutes walk away from Mercadona, our favourite Spanish supermarket, so we walked there a couple of times too to pick up some bits and bobs.
Girona dates back to Roman times, with parts of the original wall from the first century BC which are still standing. The city and its walls were extended after the 10th century, and again in the 14/15th centuries. Not only are the walls still standing, it’s possible to walk along the ramparts which, to our pleasant surprise, didn’t cost a penny. There are lots of steep climbs though, so we walked along one half yesterday and the other today.
Whilst climbing down some steep steps on the ramparts today, there were a couple of shifty looking lads hanging around at the bottom. One passed us going up the steps whilst the other stayed put. The one who had passed us squirted what looked like bird shit over both of us, hoping that we’d both stop so that they could offer their assistance whilst at the same time relieving us of our valuables. I immediately sussed what they were up to and gave them both a look to let them know, while telling Carol to keep moving. A couple of hundred metres later we stopped to clean ourselves up, to find that the bird shit was pureed gherkin. I hate the smell of gherkins so much that we ended up stopping for a drink so that I could wash my barnet in the café’s restroom sink.
In medieval times Girona was home to some 800 Jews, and the city’s Jewish Quarter remains one of the best preserved in Europe even though the Jewish population was expelled in 1492. We weren’t expecting to see any stolpersteine in Spain, given that it was neutral in WWII, so we were surprised to discover that there are 16 stolpersteine in one of the city’s parks. Close by there is an air raid shelter, built in 1938 to protect the civilian population from Franco’s air raids in the Spanish Civil War.
Wherever we went we could see yellow ribbons and Catalan flags hanging from the buildings, and nearly all street signs were in Catalan. This is clearly a pro-independence area.
We really enjoyed our couple of days in Girona. If you have enjoyed visiting Barcelona and fancy visiting somewhere a bit different, then we would definitely recommend a mini-break here. There’s plenty to see and do, and there are loads of bars and restaurants around town. Whilst it’s obviously geared up for tourists, it’s far less commercial than Barcelona, with few tat shops.
Tomorrow we’ll be moving on to a campsite at Benicàssim, staying there for a week or so whilst we get new brakes and tyres fitted to the van.