Difference between revisions of "Girona"
Revision as of 13:00, 3 August 2010
Girona  is an ancient town several thousand years old in Catalonia, Spain. The city has approximately 100,000 people and serves as the capital of the Girona Province in Catalonia which includes the counties (or comarques) of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Garrotxa, Gironès, Pla de l'Estany, Ripollès.
The town has an attractive Jewish quarter and is often overlooked by budget fliers arriving at Girona-Barcelona airport. Girona makes an excellent stop-off as part of a tour of Catalonia or escape from the noise and speed of Barcelona or as a long weekend getaway with one of those budget airlines.
Girona is said to consistently win a country-wide poll of citizens on preferred city to live in. Geographically set at the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell rivers, it has been a focal point of this region in Catalonia since prior to being part of the Roman Empire.
The Old Town is on the east bank of the river, with pedestrianized narrow streets surrounded by the old city walls. The "Rambla", running parallel to the river, contains many street cafés and touristic restaurants. Tourist information is at the south end of the Rambla, beside the river. The newer town center on the west bank has wider streets contains more shops and hotels, plus slightly cheaper restaurants.
In August, the city becomes very quiet on Sat and Sun, as most citizens escape to the sea.
Girona is located north of Barcelona and can be reached from there by bus, train, or one's own car. There is an airport located on the AP-7 highway that also accepts international flights (e.g. to London Stansted for UK). It is also 98km (61 miles) away from Barcelona.
Girona Airport is 1hr bus ride from Barcelona center. Most low cost airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air, mention "Barcelona" in their descriptions of Girona airport. You can make connection between the airport and Barcelona.
Bus: If you want to travel to Girona from Barcelona city you can take a bus. That bus stops in the center of Barcelona, in Estació d'Autobusos Barcelona Nord (Barcelona's main bus terminal).
Trains from Barcelona to Girona leaves approximately every hour from Barcelona Estació de Sants. The journey takes 1h20m from Girona to Barcelona Sants and the ticket costs about 6 €, depending on the train type (Catalunya Express is faster, Regional is cheaper). You can check it at Renfe's Train Time Tables page:
Both the Old Town and the New Town across the river are highly pedestrianized. A car is not only unnecessary in Girona, but also quite cumbersome. Rentals are available for those wishing to make day trips to the outlying villages and castles in the area.
It should be noted that most of the streets in the Old Town have large cobblestones and steep stairs going up the hill upon which Girona is built. Walking in high heels or with rolling luggage is quite difficult at some points, so plan accordingly.
The old town contains mostly touristy shops. There is also a good selection of modern shops selling the latest clothes.
Market on Saturday. Cheap goods market along river bank in the park north-west of town centre. Craft stalls in the old town.
In the old town, many touristy cafes offer menu del dia for €10-13, even on Sun. Areas with dense coverage of faceless touristy cafes are: Plaça Independencia; Rambla de la Lliberitat (near cathedrals).
Like any other Catalan city, cafes are closed from 4PM until dinner time (about 8-8:30PM). Exceptions are only touristy cafes at Rambla de la Lliberitat.
Fish dishes are better avoided in August--see the shallow river to understand the reasons.
As is typical with these region of Catalonia, it can get quite hot in the summer. Take care and drink plenty of water throughout the day. There are a number of public water fountains which anyone can make use of and they are clearly marked on the city maps you get from the tourists office.
As for crime, Girona is generally a very safe town with a vigilant local population. It experiences crime that is typical of any city its size, but visitors have little to worry about from the town itself beyond possibly pickpocketing in large crowds. That being said one of the larger worries, are other travellers. While not the destination that Barcelona is for "stag" parties from Northern Europe, Girona does see its fair share of them given that many of them fly in to the Girona Airport. They are usually extremely drunk, disrespectful, and also feeling free of all societal restrictions that they would otherwise obey in their home country. Any members of these groups should be generally avoided. Female travelers should be especially wary as these men easily get out of hand and have been known to assault women.
Other than these unfortunate individuals, for some reason, it is common to see local drunks and other vagabonds at the entrances to the footbridges across the Onyar River, especially on the Old Town side. While they generally keep to themselves, they will often beg for change. Obviously, it is unwise and heavily encouraged not to give them any money and just ignore them.
It should go without saying as it would seem obvious, but don't attempt to jump in to the Onyar River from any of the bridges across it. In addition to being difficult to get back out of, the water simply isn't deep enough for the height and you will sustain any number of grievous injuries upon landing.