Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Girona, a little tour

This year's tour took me back to Girona for the third time. We have a couple of new crew members this year and were telling them about the things we do in Girona. So I loaded up the blog posts from the last two years to show them pictures and realised that there were none. Whilst I'd shared general photo's of Girona I hadn't shown you 'our' Girona. So here it is.

We start at the hotel 

head down this little side street

to Christmas Market Square.

In whichever cafe is in the sunshine there will usually be someone you know to sit and have a coffee with. If there isn't, sitting down will almost guarantee that a member of two of the company will wander past and join you!

Next we cross over the bridge

- look the bridge has got Gaudi style paving -

past the butchers we get our chorizo

the grocery store where you can get a bottle or small plastic barrel of wine filled from these wooden barrels

a quick stop into Doll, aka the bar with the beer pumps by the church steps, to take some pictures!

The last stop along here is the tourist gift shop, where a variety of postcards, wind up toy's and magnets have been purchased.

Then past the church, which usually leads to a 'what's down there?' conversation and a little wander around ending up near to the cathedral and a great view over the town.

Then we head down the hill from the cathedral towards the theatre, past this lovely restaurant where we have been brought for company meals by our hosts,

past the paprika shop, and a few naughty photo's (there are signs in all of the windows banning photos!)

This shop is great, a really old fashioned shop with a proper Open All Hours till and for anyone feeling homesick Bovril and Yorkshire Tea are available alongside Spanish treats.

And there is the front of the theatre tucked away through the archway,

and now we are on the home leg heading back towards the hotel. Here's the Emulsion of Marco Polo restaurant (we have no idea exactly what it was, but the dish the menu proclaimed to have it came with a smear of some really thick sauce under the piece of fish which we presume was painted on with a brush!)

the cafe with the really good hot chocolate

which is opposite the ice cream shop. December is no excuse for not sampling the local ice cream : )

Then it's back across the river, that's the church we walked past earlier,

past SuperEuro which has yielded some useful props in previous years,

to the cafe in the square with the pine trees by the church (I honestly don't know why we aren't being pursued by international companies who need products naming. We are so good at snappy names for stuff!). And look, more people we know having a coffee in the sunshine, be rude not to join them. From here it's just around the corner to the hotel.

A couple of important places that our loop around town missed out. Above is the really good pizza shop that we found this year, and will be added to 'the places we always go' list for next time

The crepe shop. This place is ace, the kitchen is in an old bus, and you can have pancakes for main and pudding and they let you draw on the table cloth. What more do you need?

And finally, the shoe shop. No visit to Girona would be complete without a trip to Giralt.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


In December we were performing at the Festival Temporada Alta in Girona. As usual we were flying from the UK into Barcelona airport. This year we were offered the chance to fly out early to Barcelona and have a couple of nights holiday before we needed to arrive in Girona to work. I jumped at the chance and flew out 48 hours early. It was a small group of us on the same flight and so we shared a cab from the airport to Placa de Catalunya and from there split up and headed off to our various hotels. I towed my suitcase down La Rambla to the budget hotel I had booked into. After a quick freshen up I grabbed my camera and set out for a wander. I crossed over La Rambla and walked around the Barri Gothic area.

This is the cathedral and in the square outside there was a big Christmas market with lots of stalls selling yule logs and traditional nativity characters including the local El Caganer.

Rather than a visit to Santa the local children visit the Yule log - Tio de Nadal. The tradition here is that the log is fed during nativity and covered with a blanket to stop it getting cold. Then on Christmas morning you hit the log with a stick while singing songs to get the logs to defecate some small treats that are shared amongst those in the house. Here the children are hitting the Yule log whilst piped Christmas music was playing. It looked like great fun!

Some great graffiti spotted on the walk back to the hotel. 
The next morning I had a gentle start, a lie in and then a bus tour which I took from around the corner from my hotel.

Lichtenstein sculpture in Port Vell
The tour went past the port and sea front,

Casa Batllo
along Passeig de Gracia past two of Gaudi's apartment blocks,

La Pedrera (Casa Mila)

to La Sagrada Familia. I got off here and had a walk around the outside of the building. However, the queue stretched almost halfway around the site so I decided against joining it and instead got back on the bus to Park Guell.

I stopped here for a cup of coffee before exploring the park.

This is Casa-Museu Gaudi, the house Gaudi lived in for the last 20 years of his life and now housing a museum.

After Park Guell, I walked back down the hill and caught the metro from Lesseps to Passeig de Gracia.

I had a closer look at the outside of Casa Batllo which I had been past on the bus.

Next up was La Pedrera. First stop was the roof terrace with some amazing sculptural chimney pots, stairwells and ventilation towers.

Here you can see the supports for the roof and in the edge of the frame a replica of one of the models Gaudi used to work out the shapes of the supports that he would need.

The inner courtyard of La Pedrera

Paving along Passeig de Gracia based upon ceramic floor tiles found in La Pedrera.

After a stop for a sandwich I made my way through Placa de Catalunya to La Catedral in Barri Gothic.

There were some great views of the city from up here.

The nativity inside the cathedral cloister, this also featured live duck, chickens and geese.

Mercat de Santa Caterina

Then it was back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes before meeting up with a small group for dinner at Pla de la Garsa in El Born.

The next morning I got up bright and early, packed my bags and checked out of the hotel. Then it was on the tube to La Sagrada Familia and hopefully a short queue. My early start paid off and there was no queue at all. I opted to have the audio guide and spent a hour or so wandering around and through this stunning building.

The Passion Facade - work here is based on drawings and instructions left by Gaudi.

You can see that the armour of the guards behind Christ here has been based upon the chimney stacks at La Pedrera (pictured below)

The Nativity Facade - completed in 1930, this facade faces the rising sun and is very different in style to the Passion Facade on the opposite side of the Cathedral.

Inside the building the sunshine was throwing the colours from the stained glass across parts of the roof and the columns making me glad I hadn't queued to get in the previous day which had been overcast.

The supporting columns are based upon trees and branch out to form the support for the roof. There are also clear glass windows high in the walls and clear glass windows within the roof itself (many of which are covered whilst construction work continues overhead) which help to make the building feel very open. Words and pictures really aren't enough to describe this building, it really is something that you need to see for yourself.

You can see one of the ceiling windows here.

It was a flying visit to Barcelona but one that I'm very pleased that I took. It is definitely somewhere that I would like to return to.