This town suffers from being a cheap airport gateway to Barcelona, with most visitors jumping straight onto a shuttle bus and making the hour plus journey on the motorway to larger and more exciting city of Barcelona.
We were fortunate enough to be travelling around Catalunya in a rental car, so Girona was our first stop after leaving Barcelona. It was also my first experience driving in the narrow maze-like streets of an old European town. But, we managed to find a spot to park our car eventually (requiring the help of a local to understand the parking meter).
While there might be lots to see in the areas surrounding the city, we headed straight to the old centre of town, and I was immediately satisfied that I didn’t try to drive any further, as the streets stopped feeling like streets, and started feeling like footpaths. This was clearly a city that evolved long before the advent of automobiles – though, it’s not to say that cars didn’t still drive down these roads.
It was yet another scorching day in June in Spain, and we were thankful for all the shade we could find in these deep and narrow alleyways that wound their way organically through the old district. We didn’t really know where we were going, other than roughly towards the large Girona Cathedral high upon the hill.
We did come across a most bizarre footwear shop, with all the shop fittings based on retro video games, including Tetris, Donkey Kong and Pacman. I certainly didn’t expect something so cool and modern (yet retro) in an area that was so old.
It was a short but steep walk in the heat, and there were a few wrong turns, but we made it to the Girona Cathedral, which only loomed larger as we got closer. It wasn’t possible to go inside at this moment, so we wondered further up above the city to view the old town from the old city walls.
We had to rely on our instincts and a paper map to find our way, but eventually we found ourselves walking along the top of the old city fortifications, which in themselves were impressive, however it was the view over the old city that made it spectacular.
It was simple to see where the old city ended, and the new city began, as the near uniform stone bricks and terracotta tiles ended, and the concrete multi-stories began. In case I forgot to mention it earlier, we were roasting in the sunshine, and there was a large storm approaching, so after a few minutes of just relaxing and drinking in the view, we did our best to make our way back to where we parked the car.
It was now a little after midday, and the sun was directly overhead in the sky. The narrow crooked alleys weren’t able to shield us from the sun any longer, but at least it was all downhill from where we were.
As usual, we were once again leaving after only scratching the surface of a place, but we had much still to do, including a visit to the Costa Brava towns of Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell.