Well I sure messed this one up. I wanted to get to Girona before noon but I couldn’t find the right trains at the right price. So I spent a couple of hours chilling in the Barcelona train station and arrived here at the immense and modern train station at 1:30. Maybe because I was tired I got hopelessly lost following Google maps, trudging around for nearly an hour before a taxi driver and the Pension Borras finally got me here. It should have been a 1O minute walk. I was exhausted, hot and hungry. Not a good start.
I’m a big fan of Spanish trains though. The two that I took today were bullet trains running at around 200km/hour. So comfy and efficient. The scenery was like so many train rides in Europe. Fields, orchards, greenhouses and every so often some mysterious splotch of low buildings. Around them are odd machines, shipping containers or metal towers with tubes and pipes that may or may not emit smoke. It’s always in the middle of nowhere and often marked by a big sign with an unrecognizable name: Axxol! Crexxon! Spizzfor! Fertilizers? Farm equipment? Industrial supplies? Who knows.
After recuperation I took a look around town. The medieval center has been extensively rehabilitated. It’s substantially more touristy than Tarragona’s with lots of shops and boutiques. Some are trinkets and claptrap; others are luxury goods, artisanal products or local jewelry designers. What there aren’t are simple grocery stores or services.
A walk along the river Onyar was stunning.
The Cathedral was striking but as I had just visited the one in Barcelona I decided not to tackle the inside.
As a history buff I couldn’t miss the Girona history museum which traces the history of the town from the Romans to the Inquisition and beyond. It was excellent. I was particularly impressed with the 3rd century Roman mosaic.
The dining scene is nowhere near as diverse as Barcelona but this squid ink linguini with prawns hit the spot.
One of the major highlights of Girona is the medieval wall that nearly encircles the town and is the longest in Europe. The walk begins in parkland and ends over the town center with sweeping views along the way.
But the main claim to fame of Girona is the nearly intact Jewish quarter that recalls a community that thrived until its expulsion in 1492.
The Jewish history museum built in the restored synagogue. I particularly loved the 11th century miqvé or ritual bath.
Exhibits recount the daily life and practices of the Jewish community until the forced conversions and expulsion of 1492. It was a Jewish rabbi who provided the astrolabe that enabled Columbus to navigate to America that same year. This sculpture memorializes the two event.
To make sure I could find the train station for my early morning train to Paris, I took the 10-minute walk to the station which is to the side of a spectacularly ugly treeless plaza built to accommodate it. Along the way I passed Independence plaza with lively restaurants and cafes emerging from the arcades.
The restaurants in Girona were heavily meat-oriented with few concessions to vegetarians, or pescatarians for that matter. I chowed down on a decent pizza and turned in early to rest up for my long train ride.