Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Evening in Girona, Spain

We organised a pick up at 9.00am from the gate of the Medina to the airport, so we got up reasonably early, packed, and asked the Riad manager for a cart for our luggage.  He didn't seem to get the urgency (we have a plane to catch), and insisted we sit down for breakfast.  We had some Moroccan pancakes, some french pastries, and two eggs cooked beautifully Tajine style.  Downed some fresh orange juice then we insisted we needed to leave!

The poor guy with the luggage cart works extremely hard, isn't that young, and seems to have a heart condition.  He had to push all our luggage uphill for 25 minutes, and in some places it was very steep.  Anne and I both helped him in the steep parts.  We paid him, tipped him, and gave him all the rest of our fruit.  I felt sorry for him as it was a hard job for an older guy.

He was also toothless except for his molars, and reminded me of the strange man who attached himself to the four of us in Meknes, who was also toothless.  This strange man kissed my hand when he found out I was from New Zealand, and pressed his molars into my hand.  It was the most bizarre feeling, and I couldn't wait to get back to the Riad to wash my hand!!

Anyway - we managed to get to the airport on time (just), although we had to push our way forward to the front of the queue in the security area.  We landed in Girona, Spain at about 4pm.  It was still very warm, about 25C and sunny.  As soon as we landed, I left Anne to collect the luggage, and I headed out of the airport to find the bathroom.  I wandered back to the arrivals area and waited for Anne to come out.  When she did I rushed up to her, hugged her and said Welcome to Spain as if I lived there.  It was mildly funny!

We plonked our bags at the hostel, and I immediately started feeling not so good.  By this time I was certain I had picked up a bug from Morocco.  However, nothing was going to hold me back, so it was straight out the door to explore...

Girona is really pretty...

The first historical people in the region were Iberians.  Girona is the ancient Gerunda, a city of the Ausetani.  Later the Romans built a citadel here which was given the name of Gerunda.  Visigoths ruled in Girona until it was conquered by the Moors, then Charlemagne reconquered it in 785 and made it one of the 14 original countships of Catalonia.  Wilfred the Hairy incorporated Girona to the countship of Barcelona in 878. The Moors were driven out in 1015.  Girona was declared to be a city in the 11th century, and the ancient countship became a duchy in 1351 when King Peter III of Aragon gave the title of Duke to his first-born son John.  The title is currently carried by Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias, the first since the 16th century to do so.

The 12th century saw a flourishing of the Jewish community of Girona, with one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in Europe.  The Rabbi of Girona, Moshe ben Nahman Gerondi was appointed the Great Rabbi of Catalonia.  The history of the Jewish community of Girona ended in 1492 when the Catholic Kings expelled all the Jews from Catalonia.  Today, the Jewish ghetto or Call is one of the best preserved in Europe and is a major tourist attraction.

Anne and I wandered around the alleyways of the old Jewish Quarter...

Sunset from the top of the hill by the Catholic cathedral that dominates the area...

We were getting tired, and I was getting sicker.  Fortunately the people of Girona were lovely and nearly every shop or pub allowed me to use their bathroom!

We stopped though to have a Sangria (my first) and then went to a Tapas Bar to experience a wonderful spanish meal!

Walking home at night through the streets....

I proceeded to have a terrible night which saw me spending most of it in the bathroom of our hostel.  Kicking myself that we ate breakfast at all that morning as I'm sure it was from the food we ate in the Riad that morning!

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