If you have never heard of Girona, I would not blame you. Neither had I until I decided to go there for few days to attend a TBEX conference. Now I wish I could stay there much, much longer!
Funny though, the first time I looked up on the map to see where it is, I was a bit disappointed. The TBEX website had a really cool video about Costa Brava region, so I imagined Girona to be on the Mediterranean coast, surrounded by lush green forests and daring cliffs.
Instead, the old Girona still remains very much a medieval town a bit away from the coast. Its narrow cobblestone streets and steep flights of stairs surrounded by stone walls add up for a pretty spooky, yet amazing experience when walking around there at night with just a few street lights and even fewer people around.
Mind you it is not just a couple preserved spots for the tourists. No - the most of the old town is still kept in its original state while also housing modern businesses, restaurants, and lots of living space. The integration of old and new is simply amazing here!
A large portion of the wall that protected the city against many attacks (they held off Napoleon troops for months!) is still kept intact. Somewhat restored, it now serves as a guideway for seeing the city 'from above'.
The wall walk provides a nice view of both, the old town, and the new(er) part of the city on the other bank of the river. Different rooftops and mountains in the background make for an unforgettable sight.
Just as I enjoyed wondering around and getting lost in the streets of old town, I also enjoyed wondering around the 'new' city. Beautiful views along the riverfront (I even managed to go for a run a couple of mornings) and still quite narrow streets dotted with boutiques and cafes have their own charm.
When it came time to eat, I found the local tapas places to have great selection with decent prices. The only problem with having 300 bloggers around is that most people know each other so going out presented its own challenges of trying to find a place that we would not completely overwhelm with a couple dozen people. Oh, and splitting the bill afterwards was always a good time.
You would not have to dig deep when researching the Costa Brava region to find mentions of Salvador Dali. He lived in this area, and along with multiple museums (albeit in other towns), his legacy lives on around here.
Girona is said to consistently rank at the top of the best cities to live in Spanish polls and after spending just a few days, I could see why.
At some point, I walked by a storefront of a real estate agency there and was surprised to see apartments going for about 600 euros a month, some as low as 400. If you would like to visit Girona, you might be in luck - I might just be spending a few months there at some point next year. :)