Up until this past weekend there have not been any weekends away in quite a while. And while borders are slowly beginning to open again, I won’t be traveling to the far flung places I had envisioned for myself when I moved to Europe. This strange time we are living in has altered, at least for the time being, travel and all that it entails. While I long for a weekend trip to places far and wide I am just going to have to practice some patience and exercise caution as I stay closer to home.
This summer I will not be going home to the US as I had originally planned. Not wanting to stay cooped up in my small apartment here in Barcelona, I made a pact with myself to go somewhere new by train or car or discover something new in Barcelona each week this summer. It won’t be the summer I expected but Covid has given me the reason to explore my new adopted country.
Travel played a big part of my quarantine time if you can believe it. No, I wasn’t sneaking out in the dead of night to go places or taking illegal drives to escape my 40m square apartment, although I can’t say I wasn’t tempted at times. But I was planning, researching and reminiscing on trips of my past and future. The confinement at home left me ample time to reflect on some of my travels. I finally put down in writing (long overdue!) what I loved about some of my trips I have taken since moving to Spain in August. It has also given me a lot of time to daydream about future trips I’d like to take.
Back in December I took a long weekend trip to Girona, Spain. It is a relatively quick train ride, a little over an hour, on the regular train from the Sants station in Barcelona. My motivation for visiting Girona in December was a mix of ease to get to, the fact they had a Christmas market, and the chance to get out of the city. Now others may have been drawn in by the fact that Girona was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones, but honestly I could have cared less.
Luggage in tow, we boarded the train and were off for a weekend filled with Christmas light gazing, strolling down narrow alleyways and taking in the views that Girona had to offer. Our AirBnB wasn’t too far away from the train station and it was still daylight when we arrived, so we were able to get our bearings as we made our way there.
The old town part is not very big and almost impossible to get lost in. Multiple Culture Trip readings informed me about all the must see sights. I wanted to make the most of our time so I mapped out a general check off list of my own must see and do’s while we were there. I’m sure anyone that knows me is not at all surprised. I do love a good plan. What was on the docket for the weekend you might be wondering?
Katy’s Guide to the Perfect Weekend Getaway to Girona (Winter Edition)
Well for starters, we had to check out the Christmas market, of course. We were staying right on the River Onyar so seeing that would be easy to check off the list. I have to admit it was not my favorite Christmas market of the season. This could be due to the fact that I was spoiled once I visited markets in Germany.
There are several bridges that cross the river, but the one on my list to see was the Pont de les Peixateries Velles. To see this and the other bridges all lit up at night was really something else. It is amazing how they transformed from day to night. From ordinary and sometimes not very appealing to twinkling and inviting. But then again, a little shimmer and lighting makes everything better.
A walk along the city wall would give us great views so I knew at some point we should do that as well. That did not disappoint. It was fun walking along the ancient city wall while simultaneously enjoying the beautiful views.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Girona was the perfect city to visit for a weekend. We were able to cover end to end of the old city in no time at all. While not a ton of things to do (we were less interested in the museums and shops) it was more about just being and appreciating some time outside.
We spent quite a bit of time enjoying one meal to the next. In between meals we made stops for coffees and to take pictures of the beautiful architecture and scenic landscape. I really loved our quick weekend trip away. It reminded me that sometimes you don’t have to travel all that far to feel a world away. It was fun to just sit and chat and people watch, reveling in a slow paced, nowhere you need to be, kind of attitude.
The carefree days of travel might be on hiatus for now, but it’s not impossible. I am already plotting some long weekend or day trip getaways much like this one to Girona. For goodness sake there are places like Tibidabo or Monserrat that I still haven’t seen yet and they are practically in my backyard! Now is the time to take advantage of what my new adopted country has to offer and explore Spain and other regions close to home. Travel may not be quite like it was before, but I think that travel is still possible as long as you pack your common sense and lots of hand sanitizer.