I got up at 9am. It should have been 8:30, but my phone was in the lounge and Izzy didn’t think to come and tell me that the alarm was going off, despite sitting next to it for the duration. Kids, huh ?
Kas was already out running and was expecting we’d be somewhere near ready for going out when she got back. We weren’t, but we were fairly close.
The plan for the day was to drive to Girona for a look around. We weren’t really sure what that would involve other than some buildings and some ice cream. When we set off I’d got it in my mind that Girona was the setting for a William Shakespeare play, but that turned out to be Verona – completely different place. In a different country. Well, two thirds of the letters in the name are the same. It’s an easy mistake, especially if you’re not well versed in the bard.
Anyway, first of all we had to get there, which gave Kas a bit of a challenge because it was her first attempt at driving the Volvo. Because we didn’t know whereabouts in Girona we were trying to get to, we were unable to use Cynthia the SatNav to help. A recipe for potential disaster, but which thankfully didn’t come to pass until we were trying to get home again.
We parked up by some medieval walls on the east side of the city centre (it’s not a very big place) and decided to take a walk around in a clockwise direction. You can walk most of the way around the walls. Calling them “medieval” is a bit of a con, on the basis that they have had to be significantly upgraded and repaired to make them walkable, but it’s been done fairly tastefully and the overall effect is quite dramatic. In several places the walls are really rather high.
It was kind of a warm day, and we quickly found that the heat was getting the better of us all. The walls were quite exposed to the sunshine and the ambient air temperature was quite fierce.
After most of an hour we arrived at the heart of Girona’s medieval centre, the cathedral. The outside of it seems a little stark and plain when you’re used to the Gothic excesses of Northern Europe and the UK, and the fact that it isn’t symmetrical adds to a sense that it isn’t very cathedral-like (in my mind, anyway).
Before going inside we decided to grab a sandwich and a drink at a cafe in the square at the foot of the main steps. This is a location that you would normally describe as “Tommy Tourist Central”, but to be honest the prices weren’t too bad, and whilst there were plenty of passers by in the square they were generally, well, passing by rather than trying to get into this cafe. So it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience.
The cathedral itself offers a self-guided talkie-tour. Izzy insisted on getting one of the handsets to listen in, but then promptly handed it to someone else and didn’t pay any attention to it. The interior of the cathedral is large and church-ish. The experience was “improved” by the presence of someone playing a continuous scale of notes on the organ starting very high and gradually descending to a tone and volume that made you wish that the toilets were a little closer.
The cathedral also offers some cloisters, which are worth a walk around. No, not a Belgian tennis player. That’s Clijsters, you numpty. It’s an enclosed walkway forming a quadrangle and often attached to the warmer south side of a cathedral, and indicating a former use as a monastery. The cloisters allowed the monks to walk about outside without being disturbed by the riff-raff outside of the monastic life. Medieval monks took their monking pretty seriously.
Within a hundred metres or so of the cathedral stands the Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu, which is another large and entirely unsymmetrical church. It is also quite nice inside, although that might just have been because of the lack of bladder-bursting organ music.
Just down from here is a bridge over the River Onyar, from where one can take artistic photos of the pretty coloured buildings along the east bank.
From here we grabbed an ice cream and walked through the old town to find the far end of the medieval walls.
The route back to the car from there was all uphill, and therefore quite unwelcome. What was also unwelcome was my total inability to locate any of the caches I attempted on the walk. I eventually threw a hissy fit and gave up.
We left Girona at about 3:30pm and drove home, via the supermarket. When we arrived home the kids were in the pool before anyone could say Jack Robinson. Kas and I politely declined.
We made it “sausage and salad” night for tea and then sat down with Izzy to make a day-by-day plan for the rest of the holiday. We nearly stuck to it.