TBEX Europe is coming up (that’s a travel blogger conference, for non-blogging readers). This year, it’s organised in Girona, so I’ve looked through some photos from last time I was in town.
Six years ago, I had never heard of Girona. Even though it’s the capital of the Costa Brava, Europe’s oldest beach resort, I knew nothing of its existence.
I had been in Carcassonne on a writing assignment, was on a Barcelona-bound train for a flight the next day and wasn’t looking forward to it. Nothing against Barcelona, you understand – I just wasn’t in the mood to wander about a very big city trying to find a hotel right then.
When the train stopped briefly in a place called Girona, I looked out – and hopped off on an impulse. Not all my impulsive decisions are great. Far from it.
But this one was.
I ambled about for most of the night, along the lively La Rambla and in Barri Vell, the old town. Early the next morning, I slipped in a side door of the Cathedral to have a look, then had breakfast at Xocolateria Antiga, mostly because of the name. Chocolate spelled with x!
It was a sweet little café. My croissant was sugar-glazed, my orange juice sweetened and the house special – hot chocolate Catalan-style – was strong, thick and sweet. And just to be on the safe side, I was provided with extra sachets of sugar.
I adore watching cities wake up!
Soon, the tables were filling up with people having their morning xocolatas. Next to me, three generations of local women elegantly dressed in bright colours chatted in animated Catalan. Mum and grand-mum puffed energetically on long, slim cigarettes, hands all over the place. It might have been the set of a Pedro Almodovar drama – Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I stared shamelessly, enjoying every moment.
Two other memories of Barri Vell stand out: a wonderful dusty old book shop (hope it’s still there) – and the narrow alleys and stairs appearing around every corner.
I spent twelve hours in Girona, most of it awake. It was so interesting, I almost forgot I had to be in Barcelona airport that afternoon. The town – and especially Barri Vell, deserve more time for exploration than a late night and a few early morning hours, so I’m looking forward to visiting next month.