Europe is full of amazing cities, landscapes and new adventures. Barcelona happens to be one of the best locations to be if one wishes to fly to all these surreal locations. However, with this limitless amount of options staring the inexperienced American traveler in the face, it is easy to overlook the cities within Spain.
I was lucky enough to have my parents visit me for a week in Barcelona. When my mother suggested that we take a day trip to Girona and Figueres I was indifferent. I figured it wouldn’t be much different than a day in Barcelona. I thought the Dalí museum would be pretty cool, but in my mind there wasn’t much else to experience. I was still ignorant about the immense diversity of each area within Europe, even within one country.
Figueres was the first stop. After a brief train ride from Barcelona, I found myself stepping out onto the platform of a sleepy Spanish town. It was still quite early in the morning, and Barcelona was already bustling even when we left an hour before. Not a single person was on the streets of Figueres. It wasn’t until we got to the Dalí museum area that we saw the occasional dog walker and shop owner opening up for the day. We sat at a café and observed the town come back to life. Occasionally someone would look out on their balcony, taking in the freshness of the morning with a coffee in hand. Children ran by, leading their sleepy parent to the nearest park. On the weekends in Figueres, people wake up when they feel like it. In Figueres, people wake up to enjoy the day.
Girona is a beautiful and historic city. Not nearly as large as Barcelona, but still larger than Figueres, Girona is the perfect site for a day trip. Throughout history, Girona has been an important site for the various forces that have occupied this region. From the Roman occupation to Moorish, Girona is home to ancient structures often overlooked by travelers in Spain.
Unaware of any history regarding Girona, I had been excited for this trip simply because I would be spending time with my parents. I didn’t realize until I crossed into the old quarter of the city just how vibrant the soul of Girona was. Tourists and locals alike were trampling the ancient cobblestones that have made up the streets for centuries. Apartments that have housed citizens of the city for many years loomed over the narrow streets. It was comparable to the Gothic quarter of Barcelona; yet there was a small town feel that is absent in Barcelona. Far above all the winding streets stood the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Girona. This gothic style cathedral has one of the largest naves in the world. Almost anywhere in Girona one can look up to see this monstrosity.
Even with the extravagance of the cathedral and charming personality of the old city, Girona has even more to offer the curious traveler. After walking around the cathedral, my parents and I stumbled into a garden filled with remnants of stone structures. Soon, we found ourselves inside the old walls that once defended the city from attackers. There was no museum, and no signs telling us where we could go. Our only limit was our own will to go forward. So, we watched the sunset from the ancient walls of Girona.
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<p>My name is Torin Anderson and I am a junior English major at Gustavus Adolphus College. I am involved in hockey and ultimate frisbee as well as the Gustavus Choir. Aside from making various painful puns, I enjoy writing just about anything, and will take any excuse to travel.</p>