Girona – The City of Sieges
At a fare of €41.98 in October, how could I not resist a short trip! I was accompanied on this trip with 2 friends. We also decided that as the trip was Saturday to Tuesday, we would manage with a small backpack only. We also didn’t mind not sitting together to avail of random seats which is free of charge on Ryanair.
We travelled on a Saturday morning flight leaving 6-degree weather behind us. It was great to arrive and feel that wave of heat as the aircraft door opened 2 hours later. With no bags to collect we exited arrivals and could see the bus terminal in the distance. So just turn right and walk about 2 minutes and you’re there! You could buy your tickets at the terminal at a cost of only €2.75 each way. The journey to Girona was about 15 minutes where it is then a further 10-minute walk into Girona Old town. We stayed in apartments that were right in the Old Town which meant they were minutes from the Cathedral, the city walls and restaurants. After we checked in, we went straight for the Cathedral which was in a scene in Game of Thrones. It was magnificent looking with its numerous steps up to the top.
We also went inside and did an audio tour which can be done at your own pace. This was priced at €7 for an Adult. We didn’t hang about as we wanted to go outside and enjoy the 26-degree sunshine and decided to walk the city walls. There are many steps and heights along the city walls, but this meant that the views were outstanding. The walls themselves were a marvel and a great place for taking photos and catch your breath!
After that we went to one of Girona’s most instagrammable bar ‘La Terra’ for a much-desired Sangria. It has great views along the River Onyar. There are a couple of bridges crossing the river but none more striking than Eiffel bridge which was constructed by the famous Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Crossing the bridge brings you onto a commercial street with numerous shops and a big square. Day 1 concluded with some tapas and local red wine.
We had done some research and selected some places near Girona that would be good for a day trip. First up was Besalú a picturesque medieval town in the Girona Province of Catalonia. In appearance the town remains almost completely medieval, boasting some monuments quite out of proportion to its current humble status. It really is worth a trip. We enjoyed a Menu del dia in the square at €14.50 which consisted of a 3-course meal and a glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
After strolling around Besalú and taking lots of photos, we rang a cab to collect us to bring us to Castellfollit de la Roca. We could have got a bus, but it would not have given us enough time to explore Besalú. The journey was about 20 minutes (14km) and with one photo stop at a cost of €25, it would be a 10th of that if we took a bus. Castellfollit de la Roca was unreal, it was so sunny the photos didn’t do it justice. Yes, I just blamed the sun for something! Castellfollit de la Roca consists of a village albeit a very quiet one built up on a 50-meter basalt cliff. It Is spectacular. You can roam around below taking a rocky path that follows a river with a few foot bridges. It’s idyllic but we didn’t’ have time to spend there as we were rushing to get the bus back to Girona (€7.50).
That evening we explored more of Girona Old Town followed by some Jazz music until the early hours at Sunset Jazz Club located a few minutes’ walk from the Cathedral. The place is super comfy and intimate, in summer they have some outdoor sessions, but this is what we needed after a day of exploration.
Monday came along with a pain in the head, so a breakfast was in a nearby restaurant. Shortly after we could hear some protests in a nearby street. The Catalans consisting of all age-groups including children were calling out their anger at the prison sentences that had just been past down to their leaders who fought for independence for Catalan against the wishes of the Spanish government…to put it mildly. During this time the protests were peaceful in downtown Girona. Most were wearing the Catalan flags and some holding posters. We decided we would leave the town to go to our next place on the to-do list: Tossa del Mar.
We headed for the bus station and seen a lot more protestors and later learned they had blocked the high-speed train tracks and that there were bigger and further disruptions in Barcelona. The bus station however was well guarded with a large police presence. We could continue as normal though it wasn’t normal! We bought our tickets for this trip on the bus where we had to change over at Lloret de Mar. Many people would stop and stay at Lloret de Mar, but we had our mission. As the bus drove through Lloret de Mar I was sort of glad we didn’t explore there, it seemed very commercial and not really what we were looking for. The route to Tossa was hilly with lots of twists and turns. At this stage I was regretting not getting to bed earlier and instead having another Torres 5 Brandy. Anyway, arrived in Tossa de Mar which was very overcast though warm. Another breathtaking ancient town with a castle situated on a hill next to the beach. We walked up the hill to get the best views, but you can get a tourist train for €6 return. The views were great, and we could see a smaller beach within an alcove that looked very inviting. We dashed back down and ventured into the water, a little cool at first but the day was brightening up and it didn’t’ take long to feel warm in the water. Boats passed by while the sun bounced off my cheeks and the hangover was gone.
We stayed on for some lunch and got the bus back to Girona as we were shattered. We didn’t even go out for dinner though one nightcap was required so we could have sweet dreams. Up the next morning to get the 9am bus from Girona bus station to the airport for our flight at 10.50am. There were some local products on the shelves in the airport shops and a couples of restaurants were dotted about too. I love eating on a plane so decided I’d wait to have breakfast at 30,000 feet. Summing it all up, I would really recommend Girona and its surrounds. There is a lot more that we didn’t’ even get to explore such as the Jewish Quarter and Baths, Hiking, Cycling, Game of thrones Walking tours and Wine tours. We were happy what we took from it and vowed to return. Flights are twice weekly from Ireland West Airport with Ryanair.
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