During our time abroad, my classmates and I learned extensively about the complex history of Barcelona as well as the entire region of Catalonia. Not only have the citizens dealt with political upheaval, civil war and economic struggles since becoming a Spanish territory, the majority remain so passionate about achieving independence from the Spanish government it is ingrained in their day to day life. Many in the region speak primarily Catalan, a mixture between modern day Spanish and French, and proudly wave the Catalunya flag from their balconies. After seeing the immense Catalonian patriotism displayed in Barcelona, my group decided we wanted to travel to another city in the region and see how they lived.
About a 45-minute train ride away from Barcelona, Girona sits along the River Onyar, an old city with so much culture and beauty. We arrived on the weekend with 12 hours to explore a city we did not know existed a week prior. On the narrow streets, different local markets were set up where vendors sold books, postcards and beautiful handmade jewelry. We did a walking tour which consisted of visiting the old Roman baths, walking the length of their old castle wall, and visiting the 600-year-old central cathedral. We also got the chance to speak with residents of the area while we dined, and they explained how their ancestors have lived in Girona for centuries. It was amazing to see how much culture permeated from a small city, remote in terms of tourism, and the love they displayed for Catalonia. Girona is a must see for anyone visiting Barcelona that wants to marvel at a charming old city with so much heart.
P.S. Scenes from Game of Thrones Season 6 were even filmed here, and during the summer months residents give walking tours to all the different filming locations in the area!
Cady Dering is a student at the University of Tampa. She studied abroad with IFSA on the January in Barcelona program in 2022.