We’d arranged a short break to the Spanish city of Girona with a lunchtime flight from Bournemouth Airport on Dorset’s south coast. It was our third time using this airport and it’s always a pleasure as there are plenty of airside facilities and no queues.
Our Ryanair flight departed on time with a full load and it was a smooth, uneventful journey over to Girona taking one and three quarter hours. After quickly passing through the e-gates we followed signs for buses and bought two return tickets to the city centre from a kiosk near the bus stops. Sagalés operate an hourly service (Bus 602) with an adult return ticket costing €5.50. Tickets need to be validated on boarding with the journey taking only 20 minutes.
It was then a ten minute walk to our hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton Girona. Check-in was speedy and along with our room key cards, we were both given a warm, chocolate cookie which we took to our room and enjoyed with a cup of tea from the hospitality tray. The hotel opened five years ago and I was impressed with its simple yet clean lines. Our room came equipped with a 55″ television, ample storage space and a stylish bathroom.
It was approaching 4.30 p.m. as we set out in the warm sunshine towards Girona’s old town a 15-20 minute walk away. The stone arched Pont de Pedra (bridge of stone) is one of five bridges connecting the old city centre and ancient walls to the east with the newer part of the city to the west. As we crossed the River Onyar we caught our first glimpse of the colourful houses lining the riverbank for which the city is famous.
A short distance from the bridge lies the Tourist Information Centre so we called in there to collect some leaflets and maps before following directions to the ancient city walls which were constructed between the 9th and 14th centuries and are mostly still intact today.
Just as we were about to climb the first flight of steps there was an untimely clap of thunder and the sunshine gave way to dark, moody skies. Thankfully, it didn’t start raining until we had neared the end of our walk along the walls and despite it being gloomy we still enjoyed some good views over the city and to the hills beyond.
Along the way, we passed the University of Girona and several towers with viewpoints accessed by spiral staircases. Our afternoon stroll took us to the Basilica of St. Felix and the nearby Cathedral (St. Mary of Girona) which stand proudly in the heart of the old town (Força Vella).
The Cathedral has been built in several styles from Romanesque (the cloister and Charlemagne Tower) to the Baroque facade and steps. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones then you might recognise these steps as they were used as a filming location in Series 6.
The cathedral’s most noted feature is its large Gothic nave (15-16th century) which, at a width of 23 metres, is the widest of its kind in the world. Combined entrance tickets to both the Cathedral and the Basilica of St. Felix cost €7. More details available from the Cathedral’s own website.
After leaving the cathedral the rain showers became heavier and as we were sharing one small umbrella and did not have coats we were getting quite wet so we returned to our hotel for a short rest and to dry out.
Later, we ventured out once again and were pleased to note it had stopped raining. Our evening stroll took us back to the old town where we enjoyed a relaxing meal on Rambla Libertat, the pedestrianised main street just across from the Pont de Pedra which is lined with attractive bars and restaurants. We opted to eat outdoors as it was a warm, still evening and my choice of melon with Serrano ham followed by grilled hake were just right for a late evening supper.
Before returning to our hotel for the night, we wandered through the maze of narrow, cobblestone streets in the old quarter and looked forward to exploring these the next day when it was light.
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