6 May 2013

Girona

I had the chance to visit this lovely, very green, city on Sunday with a few of my friends through an Erasmus organisation based in Barcelona. The full trip cost us 28€ for the day and it included a guided tour of Girona, led by a mustachioed Canadian with a posh umbrella, and entry to the Dalí museum a bit further North in Figueres (I'll do a separate post about this because my blog entries are becoming very photo-heavy and thus are not very mobile-friendly. I need to work on that, but I always recommend viewing my blog posts in full on a computer screen anyway).

So! Girona... where to begin? Firstly, let's not confuse it with Verona in Italy, the setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which both my mother and my boyfriend managed to do. It's about a thousand kilometres South-East of there and sits between Barcelona and the Pyrenees, as well as being the last "real" city in Spain before you reach Perpignan in France. We had an extremely early start (6.45am on a Sunday! Jesus, Mary and Joseph Christ) due to having to meet the rest of the group, which included around 70 of us in total, in the middle of Barcelona at 10am. For a brief minute, wrapped in my warm duvet like (to quote Homer J. Simpson) a toasty cinnamon bun, I considered wasting the 28€ in favour of a few more hours sleep. Then I thought: "Don't be stupid, that's a week's worth of shopping and at least three glasses of wine, at least go and see somewhere you've never been!" Surprisingly, we were amongst the first few there.

 The journey took a couple of hours (or maybe an hour and a half, I'm not sure because I kept dozing off and waking up to different but all equally as shite Spanish pop songs) and when we arrived there we were all in various stages of hunger, needing the loo and frostbite because none of us had anticipated how much colder it would get just a couple of hundred kilometres North. Our tour guide gave us a brief introduction to the city of Girona, so that we could all tend to our individual instinctual needs, but I was near the back of the group and only heard something about a Lord called "Fellatio" and something about a church of "St. Penis?" Which later turned out to be something completely different to what my (apparently very dirty for a Sunday) mind thought.

He also informed us that once upon a time it was considered good luck to touch the bum of the lion statue as you enter Girona, but now (thanks to the flamboyant and romantic French) the tradition is to kiss the little stone lion on the buttocks. I, however, was bursting for a wee and missed the opportunity to do so (and possibly contract herpes or mono). Here are a few photographs from our exploration:


After looking around the city and learning about the origin of the Catalan flag (some guy called Wilfred the Hairy dragged his four bloody fingers down a golden shield after he was stabbed - the Canadian told it better) and that the townspeople used to believe that throwing apples into one of the four rivers which run through Girona would appease St. Narcissus (the patron saint of the city and also their saint of rain and floods - therefore reducing the swell in the rivers), we reached the bridges leading in and out of Girona. They weren't all that interesting and there weren't really any facts about them, but we got some good jumping photographs because it is considered another good luck charm of Girona to jump in the middle of one of them.
We were then taken to the cathedral and the mustachioed Canadian explained (more to the Europeans than us English) the origin of St. George's Day and how he came to slay the dragon, because apparently it all happened in or around Girona (we know it happened at Stonehenge or on top of a very tall hill in the Pennines or somewhere equally as English, right guys?) To finish our tour, we were turned loose to explore the city again at our own pace...
As it began to rain we realised we were all really hungry and cold and decided to find a place to eat somewhere. I didn't get the name of the café we ended up in, but it was a really nice little bar-type with music paraphernalia around the walls and old record players throwing out some Beatles and Johnny Cash. I ordered an odd, but very welcome, combination of English breakfast tea and patatas bravas!
Then, just as we were leaving Girona, I noticed that the stone lion was free of tourists so I finally got to kiss the butt, just like I imagined! (Note my mouth is not actually touching the butt so as not to contract aforementioned ailments.)

Overall, I really enjoyed Girona and would love to go back one day when it's a bit sunnier to see it looking more like the Emerald City than a moss-covered rock (although moss-covered rocks are beautiful, too).

Next stop, the Dalí museum...

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