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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Girona, Spain - catching our breath

Dear Family and Friends,

After four days in Avignon and surrounding areas, we got back on the train.  This time we headed to Spain.

We only had three days left before we had to fly back to Ecuador. Our plane left from Barcelona.  We love Barcelona, but since we were just there visiting 18 months ago, we visited another city instead.

We went to Girona, Spain.

Girona is a lovely city with a population of about 100,000 people.

Before going there we were pronouncing Girona using an "H" sound instead of the "G" sound.  We are used to using the "H" sound when pronouncing Giron, which is a city in Ecuador.  Since we were in Spain we just made that assumption. 

We quickly learned that Girona is pronounced with the "G" sound.  Why?  Because the people in this part of Spain speak Catalan.  Catalan is similar to Spanish but we noticed a lot of French terminology being used.

We felt comfortable getting along with our Spanish but learned we were better off speaking in English.  Why?  Because the Catalonia region is seeking independence from Spain. The Catalan government intends to hold a referendum on independence from Spain next year, 2014.

Their desire for sovereignty is so intense that you can actually feel it in the air.  We never saw a Spanish flag anywhere in the city.  They do not refer to themselves as being part of Spain, but as being part of the Iberian Peninsular.  Anything you would associate with Spain (flamenco, castanets, bull fighters, etc.) is obviously absent in their souvenir shops.  Because of this strong sentiment, we found we fared better when speaking English. 

Almost every house and business had the flag for Catalan displayed showing their support for independence.

It will be interesting to see what happens next year at the referendum.

On our first day in Girona we just wandered around and enjoyed shopping and soaking up the ambiance of the city.   We took the day off from being tourists.

Believe it or not, being a tourist is almost like having a job.  Every once and a while you need to just relax, ignore the guide books and replenish your travel energy.

The following pictures were made as we strolled the city.

We found a store that was selling Panama hats, made in Ecuador.  I almost dropped my teeth when I saw the price.  These hats were 99.00€ each, which would make them about $135.00 each.  Geez, if we had only known we could have stuffed a suitcase full of hats and sold them on the street....maybe pay for our airfare.

While we were walking we saw this moving truck.  This system was new to us.  We watched with amusement as the motorized platform moved up and down the ladder.  People in the apartment would load the platform and people at the bottom would unload the goods into the truck.  Wow, what a back saver!

Wonderful hams.  I wish we could have put one in our suitcase. 

Being a southerner I am always intrigued when I see black eyed peas in other countries.  They are sold all over the world.  We see them in almost every place we visit.

We enjoyed our down day just aimlessly wandering around.

Next post will be about getting back to being tourists.


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