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davidx Girona - A travel report by David
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Girona,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Bits of Catalunya, including Girona

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Bits? Yes. It’s a very large area with masses of variety – and all these places ought to be in a journal – and I don’t know enough on any of them to put it on its own – so it’s bits.

Girona - view from Paseo Arqueológico
Girona - view from Paseo Arqueológico
These places don’t fit neatly together and, anyway I’ve done a separate journal on Barcelona, which includes Monserrat and Nuria. They do give some insight into the variety that is Catalunya. You think I should call it Catalonia or Cataluña? I think the people who live there might be allowed to decide. Most have Catalan as their first language and that means Catalunya. Which bits? Girona, Besalu, Boi Valley and Tarragona mainly; two significant cities, a small but striking town and a collection of villages which don’t even rate inclusion on the eligible list for reports here. Girona is the largest city north of Barcelona. It’s amazing that in a city with so much to see, it’s only recently that there’s been a bus between the airport and the city! Previously the vast majority got straight into tour buses for the Costa Brava. I’m surprised to find myself saying that the most spectacular single sight is a tapestry, because in general that’s far from my scene. However in the Cathedral is the ancient Creation Tapestry, in its way as moving as Haydn’s Creation music. I could have looked at it for ages – and did for quite an age – with quite a comfortable bench provided for the purpose. The cloisters of the Cathedral are also not to be missed and the building, itself, is unusual in the huge width of its single Gothic nave. There are numerous other churches in the city worth looking at and the Arab Baths [which aren’t really Arab!]. However the best outside sight is the splendid Paseo Arqueológico from just above the Cathedral past the old city walls into the river area where you can cross to the new town – if you must! It’s a kind of park with stunning views out. I did one trip to the coast, thinking it was absurd not to. If anything was absurd, it was this trip. Sea should be beautiful, busy or both. This was neither, a strip of land meeting water, with acres of sand. I believe that further north there may well be great beauty.

Favourite spots:
In Aiguestortes
In Aiguestortes
Pont de Suert, where I arrived after my trip in the Aragón Pyrenees [Torla report], is a nice enough place to stay, but I wasn’t interested. I stayed there because the last bus up the Boi Valley had left and I caught the first one in the morning. Ordesa had been my main Pyrennean destination but I couldn’t resist a brief visit to the Aiguestortes National Park, if only to see the noted Romanesque churches in the Valley of Boi. They are amazing! You want to get off at every village, but keep going, through Boi itself, to Taull. All the villages in the valley have Romanesque churches but, goodness knows why, Taull has TWO – and they are both stupendous. Then return to Boi where, just opposite another great church, the Land Rover taxis set out regularly for the Park. The price is for a single seat and this means it’s not prohibitive. Of course it’s magnificent but, less obviously, it’s even possible for a person with limited capacity to have a great riverside walk. See restaurants

What's really great:
Fortified bridge, Besalu
Fortified bridge, Besalu
Besalu is an easy bus ride away from Girona. [It’s possible to make a circuit through Ripoll – see my Barcelona report.] I must admit to not having heard of it, but it’s mainly almost exactly like it was in mediaeval times. The most striking of all is the bridge, heavily fortified, which guarded the town from below. There are various trips out from here in tourist ‘trains’ but I’d be very surprised if a trip out enters your mind, unless you are actually staying in Besalu. Besalu is your trip out! After looking at the bridge, you can enjoy just wandering the mediaeval streets and looking in the churches.

Aqueduct, Tarragona
Aqueduct, Tarragona
Tarragona is a fairly large city on the coast, south of Barcelona and regularly connected by regional trains that go through to Valencia. It would be worth seeing anyway for its old town and cathedral but it is its Roman heritage that makes it particularly good.
The Roman sights in the centre and the museum should be seen but as an aqueduct addict I have to advise a trip on the local bus to where a splendid Roman one can be seen [to return, get on bus at same side you leave – it’s a circular!] I suppose it’s not quite as good as the one at Segovia, which is right in the town, but I relished feeling I had it to myself. This was out of season but, even so - -.
Back in the city, just look at those huge stones at the bottom of the cathedral walls all around it and imagine how they got there! Then take the walk all round the outside with glorious lookout points from the old battlement area.

Cathedral cloisters, Girona
Cathedral cloisters, Girona
In Girona I stayed at the Pensio Viladomat, c/Ciutadans 5. It’s a great situation at the edge of the old Jewish area, the Call, and a short [if steep] walk from the Cathedral.
Limited English and the Spanish doesn’t seem easy on the phone! I should only advise it for a couple of nights but it’s in the old town, as not many are – and it’s cheap. [+34-972.20.31.76]
In Tarragona I arrived during a taxi strike [no, I’ve never heard of another one either] and I failed to find an hostal. I ended up in a really good hotel for what was a modest enough price, once I realised how close it was to the sea! Unfortunately I’d already moved for two nights in an hostal, which I won’t name! The hotel was the Lauria at Rambla Nova 20. [+34 977236712]
For Taull see restaurants.

San Climent, Taull
San Climent, Taull
The only restaurant I want to recommend is one where I only had breakfast, although the smell of the lunch as I picked up my backpack and the number waiting for it were sufficient testament to its virtue. The proprietor gave me a card about its accommodation facilities BUT I’ve lost it and I can neither remember the precise name nor find it in a search! Howevr it’s worth finding and here are the clues.
1) it’s in Taull [above]
2) it’s immediately after the first church as you enter the village
3) I think San Climent is in its name.
For some lovely pics of the area, see: ho/spain_boi_2002.htm [no gap]

Other recommendations:
Santa Maria, Taull
Santa Maria, Taull
At Deltebre [the mouth of the Ebro river] there is a spectacular bird reserve. This I know from a friend’s film on it. I failed to get there and had one of my rare wasted days on holiday trying to do so. That’s why I’m saying you should forget it, unless you have private transport or you’re going to stay there.

Another place I much regret missing was the monastery at Poblet, which I could easily have seen that day if either I hadn’t been trying for the bird reserve or if a taxi driver had been more cooperative. I went near it on the bus from Lleida to Tarragona and I’m sure it must be good.

Published on Monday January 31th, 2005

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Tue, Feb 01 2005 - 08:27 PM rating by mtlorensen

David, you really should publish your work. As good (or better!) than the usual guides you see in every travellers back pack!

Tue, Feb 01 2005 - 12:38 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii david,
some times i feel i am getting short of words in order to give comment on your report ,excellent report again and i couldnt stop reading ur report till i reach end

Mon, Jan 31 2005 - 07:13 PM rating by gloriajames

keep it going!

Mon, Jan 31 2005 - 11:10 AM rating by rangutan

Wonderfull - a place of real beautifull bridges and arches.

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