Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015 -- Girona, Spain

This is my third trip to Girona and the second within a year (I was here last June), so the city isn’t entirely new to me. After breakfasting at the hostel, I set out to do some random exploring with no definite goal in mind. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the city wall, although I walked along the top of it from one end to the other last summer. As the photo below shows, this is no weenie wall like the little thing around Avignon. This is a seriously high wall designed to protect the city against invaders. The walkway at the top of the wall, where soldiers used to guard the city, is called the Passeig de la Muralla in Catalán, which I would translate as Walkway on the Wall.

The high wall that once protected Girona
What caused the end of the city wall as a means of defense were the discovery of gunpowder and the invention of cannons that fired heavy metal balls. If you fire enough cannon balls at a stone wall, you will eventually break through.

The picture below hints at Catalán nationalism. Many people in Cataluña feel that they are the industrious, hard-working people of Spain and the rest of the country’s population lives a life of relative ease at their expense. One gentleman last summer went so far as to tell me that Cataluña is an occupied country, occupied by the foreign terrorist regime in Madrid, by which he meant, of course, the Spanish national government.

Cantalña has its own language, although everyone also speaks the national language, which is called Spanish or Castilian. For some reason there is a misconception among some  non-Spanish-speaking Americans that Castilian is the “proper” form of Spanish and is different than say the Spanish spoken in Mexico or South America. Castilian is merely another name for the language we call Spanish and is used to differentiate it from other Spanish languages such as Catalán, Basque, and Galician.

Some people in Cataluña and the Basque Country refuse to call the national language Spanish and insist on using the name Castilian. In their opinion, their languages have just as much right to be called Spanish as Castilian does. However, the Spanish constitution defines Spanish as being the Castilian language.

Caalan flags hang from many balconies
To the best of my memory, I have never seen a Spanish flag flying in Cataluña except back in the days of the dictator Francisco Franco. If someone hoisted one, the neighbors would probably tear it down and burn it. The flags flying from the balconies in the picture above are Catalán flags except  the blue one with the ring of stars, which is the flag of the European Union.

L'Església de Sant Feliu
The church in the picture above is the Església de Sant Feliu. If Sant Feliu is a recognized saint, I would imagine that he has a name in English, but I have no idea what it is. I wish I could have gone inside, but all of the doors seemed to be shut. I have read that the interior is mainly in the Romanesque style with a Gothic nave. The tower is Baroque at the top with lots of windows and an open appearance. The bottom looks to me like the earlier heavy Romanesque style that depended upon massive walls broken only by small slits of windows.

The picture below shows one of the wider streets in the Old City. Yesterday was a festival day with events all over town and vendors’ stalls set up in every open space, so there were lots of locals out walking about chatting away mostly in Catalán with a smattering of Spanish here and there. The red choo-choo approaching is, of course, a sightseers’ train giving tourists a guided trip through the narrow streets.

A tourist train in a typical street in the Old City
Now, a view of the river. The apartment buildings not only line the river, they hang right over it. I don’t know if there are any eatable fish in that river or not, but if I lived in one of those apartments, I’d probably have a fishing line hanging out the window to supplement my usual diet of beer and potato chips or crisps, as the British call them.

Most Spanish live in purchased apartments or condominiums. Except in the villages, one-family houses are rare.

Apartment blocks overhand the river
To finish, the number of visits to this blog from each country during the past week:
Taiwan 17
Germany 3
France 3
Spain 2
China 1
Ireland 1
Poland 1

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