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Falling in Love with Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain

“Colorful. Patriotic. Medieval. And oh yeah, AMAZING food!” 

This is immediately what pops into my head when I think about Girona, Spain. I traveled out to Cataluña for only the second time a few weeks ago for the TBEX travel blogging conference.

For a few days in September, hundreds of travel addicts and blogging nuts converged on this little city an hour north of Barcelona to eat weird food, drink way too much, talk nerdy and learn all about the travel blogging business.

I made sure I arrived early before the mayhem of the conference began so that I could take in all Girona had to offer. I snagged a lovely little studio apartment smack in the old quarter with Wimdu, the perfect base for a few days. I spent hours getting lost and wandering around the narrow cobblestone streets, occasionally discovering an enchanting hidden courtyard or a beautiful medieval building, gawking over the brightly colored buildings and distinctive little bridges.

Girona, Spain

Girona is high on my list of favorite cities in Spain, although to be perfectly honest, it didn’t really feel like Spain at all. Located in the heart of Cataluña, a fiercely independent region in northeast Spain, complete with their own language and customs, Girona has a more continental, modern vibe than the rest of Spain, something the Catalán people are more than happy to point out themselves. Walking around town, there wasn’t a Spanish flag in sight, but loads of the red and yellow striped Cataluña flags displayed from every window, balcony and car around!

“So what do you think about the Catalán independence movement and having Catalán-only spoken at school? Do you think that’s limiting?” I frankly asked the guide  in Spanish on an afternoon tour around town.

“No, no, no.” She answered in English, refusing to speak in Spanish. “We need to protect our Catalán heritage after being oppressed and robbed for centuries.” Holy cow. Way to not sugar-coat it, lady!

Girona, Spain

Girona’s need to be distinguished from the rest of Spain marks it as a unique destination, one worth taking the time to visit and to get to know on its own. It’s richness of history, culture and food, not to mention the incredible architecture puts it high on my list of favorite European cities.

Without a doubt, Girona has one of the most impressive historic centers I have seen in years.

Girona, Spain

If the exceptional architecture and culture wasn’t enough, did I mention Girona is home to the second-best restaurant in the world?

El Celler de Can Roca is the brainchild of the famous Roca brothers. If you are like me, and the chance of snagging a reservation there is about as high as marrying Javier Bardem, there is an amazing alternative. The Roca brothers just opened their own affordable ice-cream joint downtown called Rocambolesc.

Girona, Spain

Girona is a great day trip or excursion from Barcelona (only 1 hr away by train) as well as being a great base for exploring the beautiful Costa Brava region. It even has an airport serviced by Ryanair (shudder) as well as being easily accessible to the other Barcelona airports by frequent buses.

I decided to try something new on my trip out to the Costa Brava, renting an apartment with Wimdu! What better way to experience a new city than to stay like a local?

girona, spain

Girona, Spain

I ended up snagging a beautiful studio smack in the old quarter next to the cathedral. The location couldn’t have been more perfect and I immediately opened the balcony windows to gaze down the quaint medieval streets. Having a full kitchen and washing machine, along with staying alone without having to worry about roommates or cleaning people truly gave me the freedom I love having while traveling. Staying in an apartment building offered a much more authentic taste of Girona, and I felt like a got a much more local experience from it.

I spent 4 days in this charming city, and it wasn’t enough. I fell in love with it, and I already can’t wait to go back. Have you ever been to Girona? Is it on your travel list?

Thanks so much to Wimdu for the complimentary stay in Girona. Like always, all opinions are my own.

Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain

Street of my apartment as seen on my Instagram

Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain
Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain

Girona

Girona, SpainGirona, Spain

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19 Responses to Falling in Love with Girona, Spain

  1. Trevor Huxham October 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Really, really love your picture of the senyeras and esteladas hanging from the porches. It’ll be interesting to see for how much longer Cataluña will be Spain!

    • Elizabeth October 9, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Thanks! I know, right! I definitely felt the independence movement here much more strongly than in the Basque Country!

  2. Jessica October 6, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I loooove Girona, it’s so pretty! It really does feel different from other smaller cities I’ve been to in Spain. You have some gorgeous shots of it.

    Your tour leader actually gave you a pretty restrained answer haha – most Catalans I’ve asked about it share the same opinion. The more militant independistas are much more extreme.

    • Elizabeth October 9, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      Glad you like my pics! Haha! I was a bit shocked at her blunt reply

  3. Audrey | That Backpacker October 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    It looks like a charming town! I flew into Girona but totally skipped it and made a bee line for Barcelona.

    • Liz October 9, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      next time make sure to check it out! I really loved Girona!

  4. Alyssa October 8, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    Looks lovely!

    I lived in the Sevilla years ago, but I never thought about visiting Girona. Guess I may have to go back. ;)

    • Elizabeth October 9, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      Definitely! I loved Girona much more than Barcelona! It’s a great city in Spain to visit :)

  5. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas October 12, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Lovely photos! I had an eight-hour layover once in Girona, so I was eager to se the city. I had my bag with me and the weather was drizzly (it was also Sunday), but being able to explore the city in peace and without prisa made me want to go back. Still bummed I missed TBEX!

    • Liz October 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      It’s great! I hope you get out there again soon xx

  6. Holiday Addict October 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I really love your photos. Girona isn’t somewhere I’ve really considered before and I have to say I’m changing my mind about that!

    • Liz October 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Yay! It’s really amazing and worth visiting on it’s own, I hope you make it out there soon :)

  7. Larissa October 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Whaaaat? We should have been hitting your apartment every night, not River Cafe! Thing looks sweet. I really liked Girona a lot too so cool to hear from someone that has spent more time in Spain that they were also impressed by it (wasn’t sure if it’s just because I haven’t explored the country that much and because it’s where my boyfriend Jordi Rocha is based). Nice meeting you by the way :)

    • Liz October 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

      haha I know! it was right next to the cafe too, totally should have invited everyone up! It was great to meet you too! TBEX was loads of fun! Girona is definitely a cool city in Spain, though not sure how spaniards feel about it right now lol. I have to go back and go on a double date with you guys, as long as Jordi makes desert!

  8. Aiketa January 20, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    I’m so happy that you liked Girona, MY CITY, that much!!! I do like Girona a lot!!!
    People from Girona are known among Catalans to be really proud of our city. I guess some people just think that we are that proud of Girona because it’s our city, but it always makes me so happy when someone from somewhere else likes it as much as we do. This means that Girona has a real charm.

    Now, with high speed train, Girona is only 38 minutes by train from Barcelona. I guess tourist now don’t have an excuse to visit Girona.

    And I couldn’t agree more on what you said about Catalan people being more continental than the rest of Spain. I think it’s so true.

  9. Cheap Spain holidays March 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Somehow they have been able to enter the 20th century, accepting the modernization that comes along
    with it. Apart from the swimming, there are
    dozens of other activities on offer. The regime of Franco enacted fairly
    stringent laws that limited foreign investment in real
    estate.

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