People find themselves in Girona, Spain for one of three reasons:
- You’re a cyclist and you’re riding the back roads of the Pyrenees
- You found that the cheapest way to Barcelona is to fly into Girona and take an hour bus
- You want a quiet holiday with your lover
Girona is not much of a tourist attraction, even the customs official looked a bit surprised to hear that Tiffany and I would be sticking around Girona for a couple of days to hike and explore the city. “You’re sure you’re not going to Barcelona then?” he said as he stamped our passports. Uh, yes?
On the bus from the airport to city center, I started to wonder whether we had made the right decision. Buildings were covered in graffiti and the “beautiful medieval town” we read about was nowhere in sight. We found our hostel easily and were pleasantly surprised by what we saw. We had left the outer city and stepped into a Pinterest picture. The top of our veranda looked out onto beautiful colorful buildings on either side of a river. Perhaps the city wouldn’t be so bad after all.
On our first day, we walked the walls that used to surround the city. There were small gardens situated a different points along the wall and unkept lavender flowers and ivy were starting to creep up the sides of the stone. We found a small trail leading away from the wall up one of the small foothills. Tiff and I followed the trail until we reached the top and were able to see the entire city from above.
Back at the hostel, we met a Belgian named Mandes who was biking from Belgium to Barcelona in ten days. He seemed pretty lax about it, although my mind was blown. 120 km a day (!!!!!) and he had more energy than Tiffany and I did after hiking one trail. We were feeling inspired by Mandes so we decided to rent bikes the next day.
Tiffany and I had already seen most of Girona, so we wanted to find a better destination for a bike tour. We had read about a small beach town called L’Escala which was about 25 miles away. A total of 50 miles by bicycle seemed a bit intimidating for one day, but Mandes did nearly twice that every day for ten days. We could handle it…right?!
Wrong. The day started out great – we had our directions saved to the phone, backpacks packed full of snacks, and huge smiles on our faces. I’m sure we looked hilarious. Our bikes were old and squeaky, I was wearing Keds, and Tiffany had a spot for a basket on the back of her bike. About 15 miles in (most of which was uphill), I was fairly certain I couldn’t feel my legs. Our next direction was to go 5.4 miles and then turn left, but it didn’t even say what the road name was.
Tiff and I are both pretty proud, so it took us a couple of stops (hard breathing and sweat pouring down our faces) to finally look at each other and admit we were way out of our league. Now I remembered why I never became a cyclist. A group of cyclists road by in their spandex and laughed at us. I can’t say I blame them. We begrudgingly turned our bikes around and headed back for Girona.
A total of 30 miles later, we reached our hostel in Girona and collapsed on our beds. It was only 2pm. “That was a fun adventure.” Tiff struggled to pull herself onto the bunk. I looked at my sunburn lines. The left half of my body looks like a tomato and the right half looks like it’s never seen the sun. We never got to the beach, so it made our next destination an easy choice. Barcelona… here we come!
A very out-of-shape American.