Colorful hanging houses that line a bridge-crossed canal? Girona tourists might do a double take thinking they’ve made a wrong turn, ending up in Venice or Spain’s capital of hovering homes, Cuenca. But what a lovely wrong turn that would be, as this Catalán town – just over an hour away from Barcelona – will capture your traveling heart.
I’m no stranger to the cities and villages that crisscross the Iberian Peninsula. I never tire of them, but at the same time, many of them do start to look a tad similar, right down to the darling grandpas with their canes and messenger caps.
Girona caught my attention, though. It was love at first sight. Un flechazo, as they say in Spanish.
And I fell hard for the over-2000-year-old city with switchback streets that stagger across the hillside. Over the river, between warm-hued buildings, and up the never-ending steps of the gothic cathedral (previously the site of an even older cathedral that once served as a mosque) – I was enamored of my new Catalán discovery.
From the cathedral, we slithered down alleyways, under arches and into one of the largest preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. Then we trekked over bridges, and past cozy cafés that summoned my friend Cheryl and me to stop for a much-needed caffeine boost. The refuel would have to wait, though.
Locals indulging in their primera copa mingled in the streets outside bars, teasing our growling tummies and wine-deprived taste buds. Little did we know we were on the verge of a nine-course meal – one that would seal the deal on my Girona love affair. But, as usual, I must reserve discussion of food for a separate post, or risk going on an all-too-common tangent….a tangent about mind-blowing jamón cream sauces or, I don’t know, artichoke hearts (which until two weeks ago, I hated) nestled in a sweet sobressada that tasted so good it nearly brought me to tears. Yes, this must wait for another post.
Following our feast, we returned to our rustic countryside villa, nestled below a castle-topped hillside, along an orchard of trees. I thought I’d met the one – THE pueblo – until the next day, when I was introduced to Cacaqués.
Disclosure: I traveled through Catalonia as a guest of Charming Villas Catalonia. Rest assured that I’m keeping it real – all opinions are entirely my own.