Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 -- Girona, Spain

I took a regional train from Barcelona to Girona today, working my way north toward France. I could have taken an Ave (bullet train) and arrived here in just over a half hour, but that would have cost real money, whereas the regional train was about one-fourth the price. However, the regional train seemed to stop at every cow pen and rock pile, so the trip lasted almost two hours.

I had booked a dormitory room for two nights, but once again my good looks came to my rescue. The young lady at the front desk gave me a double room for the same price and added that I would have the room to myself. Don't worry! I have the door securely bolted, just in case she gets any funny ideas about sneaking up here in the night and taking advantage of me.

As you may know, Gerona is the place where many pro cyclists live in the off season and train in the nearby mountains. I took the following shot of a cycle clothing shop just doors away. I couldn't go in the shop, because, unlike Barcelona, most shops here still observe the old Spanish custom of closing from one to four in the afternoon for a siesta. I wouldn't mind having one of those jerseys, but I'll bet they're very expensive. (By the way, you can click many of the pictures to see them in a larger size in a zoomable window and then close the window to get back here.)

I had been told that the farther one gets from Barcelona in Cataluña, the more Catalonian nationalism comes to the fore. Here almost all written information is in Catalán, and almost none is in Spanish. Someone who doesn't read basic Catalán might have trouble getting around (I can read enough to get by). There are Catalán flags everywhere, as illustrated by the flags hanging from six of the balconies in the following picture, but I haven't seen a single Spanish flag. There are also signs in Catalán and occasionally in English, but again none in Spanish, calling for Catalonian independence. One shop even has Catalonian passports for sale, although I don't think I would try to use one at a border crossing.

There are baby grand pianos in public places all over the city, and anyone who can play is welcome to sit down and do so. They make me wish that I weren't such a cultural ignoramus who has never learned to play anything more complicated than "Three Blind Mice." This piano is on the steps leading up to the front entrance of the cathedral.

The following two shots are of the cathedral. I didn't go in, because there is an admission charge. I am not religious, but somehow it seems to me to be sacrilegious to charge people to enter a house of worship, but the Temple of the Sacred Family in Barcelona also charges a steep entrance fee. In Spain, being an atheist seems to be financially advantageous. Did the people who run these churches ever read about Jesus and the money changers?

The old  part of the city is still half surrounded by the old city wall. I read that sections of the wall were built in three different epochs: in the Roman times, during the time of Charlemagne, and in medieval times. I walked along the top of the wall, which is quite high above the ground, but I didn't get any pictures of it. The following "selfie" was taken where one of the city's narrow passageways turns into a staircase.


Inge Quinn said...

During our travels in Europe, I don't remember any churches charging a fee for admission. Is this something new?

Jack Quinn said...

Well, the Temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona charged when we visited it so many years ago, but that seemed to me to be a special case, because they were raising money to continue its construction. Other than that, I don't think I was ever asked to pay to enter the main part of a church or cathedral. Some charge to tour the bell towers.