While roaming in Europe, travellers realize that many gems are hidden in small, lesser-known towns and municipalities. Whether it’s in terms of food, culture, or atmosphere, it’s a completely different experience visiting big tourist cities while compared to quieter, less popular destinations. That was why aside from Barcelona, friend LS-san and I decided to visit a random city nearby on days 2 and 3 of our trip.
First, it was a choice between Tarragona, Zaragoza, and Girona. Taking into consideration travel time and cost, we decided to venture to Girona on day 2, a Spanish town north of Barcelona approximately an hour and a half away by train.
As for day 3, we headed to Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small town which took us about 40 minutes to get to from Barcelona. It was an accidental discovery, actually. The moment I saw Vilanova i la Geltrú on the map, I knew there was something familiar about it. Later I remembered seeing its name on the trams of Bordeaux, thus realizing that it is in fact twinned with Merignac, a suburb of Bordeaux. So naturally, we figured we’d go take a look.
The town of Girona, with houses along the Onyar river as seen from the old bridge. The colours of Girona remind me slightly of Lisbon, bright and pastel.
Crossing from one side of the river to the other…
Looking at the old bridge on the riverbank. Gorgeous blue skies with beautiful clouds in the morning!
I believe this was the Plaça Independència. No one is here yet, because apparently the Spanish eat their meals pretty late. We came back here afterwards in search of lunch, and here it is!
LS and I were surprised to have received a large jug of sangria that accompanied our lunch! We were expecting a small glass each that came with the meal, but the waitress was extra generous and gave us so much more ^_^ Tapas was yum yum, and the gazpacho was something new that I’ve never tried before. It was basically a cold soup with chopped up vegetables served as an appetizer, not bad for a moderately hot summer day. As for the main course, cuttlefish is not to be missed due to my addicting love for this delicacy, and it did not disappoint! Fantastic meal, especially when shared with LS-san in such a relaxing, less touristy atmosphere!
We continued the exploration of Girona by climbing up to the Passeig de la Muralla, the city walls that surround Girona. The wall offers some magnificent views of the town as well as soothing, embracing breezes.
Giant faucet-like structures…or maybe they’re real faucets.
Seemed like a storm was coming…and it did. LS and I ended up napping under the arches of the Girona cathedral, on the stone benches in front of the entrance. The arches shielded us from the rain and I fell asleep to the sound of raindrops by my ears. It was one of the best naps I’ve had in awhile.
That ends our adventures in Girona. The next day we headed to Vilanova and there weren’t many pictures because we ended up chilling at the beach most of the time…
Arrival at Vilanova station. What could have been a straight-forward trip ended up taking us around quite a bit due to construction work on the railway network, but all was well as we arrived.
Didn’t know that Vilanova was famous for its beaches, but we followed the signs and ended up by the Mediterranean Sea!!! What beautiful waves! I know it doesn’t look like it in the photo, but believe me, they were huge! Wasaga Beach was nothing compared to this…nothing at all. Neither LS nor I brought swimwear, but I couldn’t resist the urge to let the waves wash over me, so I dove into the embrace of the sea. So strong, so relaxing, so…salty!!! Who cares if I had to spend an hour getting dry again, it was worth it!
On the way back to Barcelona, this was what I saw on the train. Spain has some rather impressive hills and landscapes indeed. On the other side was the vast Mediterranean Sea and when I saw nothing but blue beyond blue, I said to LS, “I slept through THIS on our way here?!” He nodded and teased me, but at least I didn’t fall asleep on the way back!
There you have it, the two-part trip to Spain after my return from Canada. I’m heading to Clermont-Ferrand for a colloquium tomorrow. Maybe I will discover something interesting to share in this brand new destination!
This looks beautiful!!! I’m going to Barcelona soon, would you recommend visiting this small town for a day? Or Zaragoza? Looks beautiful!!!! 🙂
Haven’t been to Zaragoza, but Girona is worth a short visit, and it’s super convenient! Have fun in Spain and eat lots of paella!!!
I enjoy reading your lovely notes:):)
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We are booking to go to Vilanova and it is good to read your blog! How did you get from Vilanova to Girona – we are keen to do this – you mention a train – was this easy and how long did it take?
Hello! I went to Vilanova from Barcelona, not Girona. It was a while ago and I don’t remember much details, but I think there are frequent trains from Barcelona Sants to Vilanova i la Geltru, and the trip couldn’t have been more than an hour. Have fun!
My name is Annie too and I just happened across your blog through a google image search for a picture of the beach in Vilanova i la Geltrú. I actually live in Vilanova. Very nice pictures and commentary. Girona is one of my favorites. I’m glad you found our city too. There are actually some pretty great resturants here (eg. check tripadvisor) and amazing local festivals, nice city center. Hope you come back someday.
Thanks Annie 😉 I do plan to go back to Spain and of course would love to visit the nice beaches again 🙂