As promised in my Barcelona post, here is the run-down on my day trip to Girona. Girona is a city in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region. It is known for its colourful houses along the river, medieval architecture, walled Old Quarter- the Barri Vell, the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress and now for some steps that appeared in Game of Thrones!
When researching the most efficient and cost effective way to get to and from Girona in a day, my dad came across the site withlocals.com; which is a company that provides a private tour guide with transportation to Girona and Figueres to the Dalí Theatre and Museum. There are other tour companies running the same trip, except they involve 40+ other people (depending on the size of the bus) for the same cost, so my parents opted to try this out.
What the tour includes:
- Transportation, pick-up and drop-off as close as possible to your apartment
- Driven right into the town in Girona
- Guided tour around Girona, explaining the sites and history in the old town
- Dropped off in front of the museum in Figueres
- Flexibility in choosing to spend more or less time in Girona or at the museum
- Free time for lunch- we chose to eat lunch in Girona at one of the restaurants in the main square then look through the few shops in our hour break
What to see in Girona:
- Coloured buildings: For me, the attraction I was most looking forward to were the coloured houses along the river. When I saw the picture of the buildings, I was drawn to them and chose to visit the city based on that. Walking over the bridges and along the rivers edge, looking out towards the buildings were beautiful, but they looked just how they do in pictures; which is both good and bad, but I didn’t get that excitement and thrill of seeing something completely new for the first time.
- City walls: What I loved was walking through the city walls, as I didn’t know they even existed! Coming from a country as young as Australia, Europe’s history astounds me with how far back it all began and that there are still buildings standing from the 10th Century. Walking the walls also allowed for beautiful views back over the city from above. Make sure you walk up a watchtower or two for sweeping views over the city.
- Churches: There are three main churches. Girona Cathedral, Sant Pere de Galligants and Esglesia de Sant Feliu. You can look inside the churches and around the grounds.
- Old town: The town was filled with pastel coloured buildings, cobbled stones and boutique shops- the European, old town charm people travel kilometres to find! Let yourself wander and make sure you have your camera because this little town is Instagram worthy.
What to see in Figueres:
- Dalí Theatre and Museum: As you pull into the town of Figueres, you approach the museum which is mesmerising. The building is intricately designed, it is bright red and what look like big white dots, but when you get out and walk towards it you can see that it is clay bread! This is just the beginning of an extraordinary experience inside the museum.
- I have been to quite a lot of museums, classical and contemporary art, historical, and scientific, but this was definitely one of the best museums I’ve been to! Dalí’s art work makes you see the unimaginable, and the longer you looked at the works, the more you saw. The attention to detail in every brush stroke was present. Although, like the Picasso museum, most of his world-renowned artworks were not in the actual museum as they are elsewhere around the world. But you do see many of his early works, and big sculptures, tapestries and works you didn’t even know existed! It was such a fun museum, and I left with a big smile on my face. My parents and I were discussing the museum for hours, asking if we saw this detail or that detail.
- There didn’t appear to be much else in the town apart from a few restaurants and souvenir shops surround the museum.
Pros and Cons:
Now, the only con that I have is also a pro. The tour guide was a local Spaniard, which is great, obviously, because I am in Spain! I want to hear what the locals have to say about the country they grew up in. He was telling us about the Spanish economy, the truth regarding tapas: apparently Spaniards don’t eat tapas all the time like tourists are led to believe, and that Spaniards don’t take siestas all the time either (this could just be true for the Catalan area), but it seems all embellishments are for us easily convinced tourists. So now for the con; sometimes his accent was a little hard to understand and I couldn’t quite grasp everything he was saying. But in saying that, this could have been the same for the big tour buses as well, I just don’t know, as I didn’t go on one.
Overall, the day was a success. I always enjoy getting away from the major cities in every country and getting the chance to explore the smaller cities, even just for a day, to get a better grasp on how the rest of the country live.