Since we had a week to travel, we left Barcelona and headed for two days to Girona. Girona is still in Catalonia, a little northwest of Barcelona and not too far from the Pyrenees mountains. There wasn't anyone to visit in Girona or any great sight we needed to see, but I'd read that the town is pretty and is a sort of paradise for cyclists. At least one professional cycling team has a training facility there, and several professional riders live and train there too. We are not professional or anything close to it, but we do like biking so it seemed like as good a destination as any.
We had a great, sun-drenched afternoon in Girona. We walked along the old city walls, which were to protect the city in the 1300s (I don't think it always worked) and are now turned into a public walkway/tourist attraction. Except much of the time we were the only people walking on them. I suppose a lot of Europeans aren't as interested as we are in that kind of old stuff, but when you are from a new-ish country and living in a country where most of the medieval structures were bombed away in WWII, it's pretty cool. Then we wandered the narrow city streets and I did some heavy window shopping. There must be some rich people in this town. There were all kinds of great stores and enough restaurants to keep us eating for months.
We saw a lot of Catalan flags in Girona. There is a movement in Catalonia to secede from Spain and become an independent country within the European Union. Catalonia is the most prosperous region of Spain, so some of its residents are tired of subsidizing the rest of the country, I guess. That and they have a separate language and cultural identity. Will they get anywhere with it? Who knows. Brian pointed out that rich, well-fed people rarely start revolutions.
I had researched where we could get bikes to ride in this bicycle colony, and contacted a store who could rent us some good road bikes for our second day in town. We walked over to find the shop, which was on one of the twisty, narrow pedestrian streets in the old part of the city. The idea for us was to find it, figure out what we needed to bring along for the next day, and mostly decide whether we needed to walk over there all spandexed up in our bike shorts or if there was another option. The bike shop is run by a couple: an English guy who is a former pro mountain bike racer who then had an office job, which he later quit to start the shop and build and sell bikes, and his Dutch wife who is also a cycling buff and speaks 7 languages. As we were learning that it's possible to walk to the shop looking normal and change into bike gear there, they were apparently sizing us up to decide which route to recommend. Read on to the next post to see what they decided.
We finished off the evening with a dinner at a place like we'd hoped Shoko would be - bistro-like restaurant with dim lighting and jazz music and probably a good wine list (if I could tell the difference). Brian ordered a whole plate of fancy shaved ham (who needs side dishes?) that he claims is the best pork product ever aside from J.D. Hoyt's pork chops in Minneapolis. Well-fed and happy, we weren't ready to start any revolutions either.
|View from Girona city walls|