Last Updated on 11 May 2023 by gerry
Girona is only 50 minutes away from us by train, now we are in Santa Susanna so a much easier daytrip destination than Barcelona and Sitges now. The highlights for the tourist are primarily the city walls, the cathedral and other religious buildings, the atmospheric narrow streets of the old town / Jewish quarter, the many foot-bridges that traverse its river Onyar, a multitude of Game of Thrones locations and all that the abundance of bars and restaurtants have to offer.
We were up early to catch the 9.14am train and so we emerged from the railway station just after 10am, albeit in hindsight through the wrong exit doors that added a wee bit to our walk towards the pedestrian centre of the city on La Rambla de la Llibertat. There we collected a map and some info from the tourist information office and headed up onto the 2km of mediaeval, Carolingian and Roman walls which give fantastic views across the city and to the mountainous terrain behind it.
We felt the very relaxed Girona vibe right away and although there were plenty of other tourists doing the same thing as us, it didn’t feel swamped like some places in Barcelona. Like in Santa Susanna, the French made up the lion’s share of the tourists we encountered here. There are many elevated viewpoints along the walls, particularly the Torre de Sant Domenec and the Torre Gironella, which are both accessed by spiral staircases, which I imagine would get quite congested during high season.
We came down off the walls to have a look at the iconic Cathedral and its steps as featured in exterior shots of the holy sept of Baelor’s in Game of Thrones. Many other scenes from the series were filmed really close to the Cathedral and we visited the Arab Baths, the plaça del Jurats and the Arya’s little bridge just round the corner.
After all that walking the alls in the midday sun we were ready for a sit-down and an ice cream in front of the Basilica de Sant Feliu just across from the famous lioness sculpture of Girona. The custom of kissing the lioness’s bum has been discouraged since the COVID pandemic and there are no longer steps up to the sculpted stone lioness climbing its stone column. There is a metal plaque on the wall beside this, which we were able to touch for good luck, a bit like Greyfriar’s Bobby’s nose in Edinburgh.
We then took a dander through the streets of the old town and came across the Cafe Le Bistrot at the bottom of the Pujada de Sant Domenec (ascent of Saint Dominic, another Arya scene location). We had heard of this cafe’s good location and reputation on a youtube video and although the tables outside were quite busy we were lucky enough to be just in time to get one as another couple was leaving. The food and service here was fantastic.
After our fine lunch, we sought out the “Eiffel bridge” or the Pont de les Peixateries Velles to give it its proper title. The river Onyar which runs through Girona is suffering like many places in Catalonia from the prolonged dry conditions and currently has a very low water level. Across the bridge we turned right to explore the impressive square Plaça de la independència. After doing a complete circuit of the square we sat down for a drink at König, which was the busiest of the cafes and the one with the most welcome shade.
Afterwards we returned to the old town across one of the other pedestrian bridges and took a stroll through the old narrow streets of the Jewish quarter. This led us back to the Cathedral and some more steps and turns led us back to where we had enjoyed lunch. We continued our descent a different way to find ourselves back on La Rambla de la LLibertat we had started out our tour in the morning. There we had time for a quick drink at McKiernan’s before heading to the railway station for the train home.