Reserve a great hotel with relaxing amenities, and top customer service near the Girona Airport.
GironaDistance from Girona-Costa Airport: 9.3mi / 15.0km
Most people probably just think of it as an airport for the Costa Brava. Ironically, although thousands of people get off the plane and straight into a tour bus for the coast, there is no bus between the airport and the city. Fortunately there are often cheap flights that make for a bargain even after the taxi fare has been paid (£8-£10 equivalent – not a lot of point in quoting peseta prices now).
The city of Girona deserves to be better known. The Paseo Archeologico reached from just above the cathedral gives fine views of buildings to the left and over part of the city to the country behind it to the right. Perhaps the finest thing of all can not be photographed. This is the wonderful Creation tapestry in the Cathedral – worth the entry money every time. Heaven knows how many hours it took to do it but it is the best tapestry I have seen anywhere and it is very well-displayed with a seat to sit on if you want to stay for a good look. The other very good thing to do is to take the bus to Besalú. It is a very pleasant bit of country but Besalú itself is a knock-out with its fortified bridge and old churches. Unfortunately there would appear to be no cheap accommodations. It is also possible to get to Ripoll from Girona or Besalú by bus, noted for its 9th century monastery and nearby rail to Ribes de Frazer where a rack railway runs up the mountains to Nuria. I actually saw these places from Barcelona and I am doing a separate item on them in this travelogue.
MontblancDistance from Girona-Costa Airport: 18.5mi / 29.7km
A small town that is full of history. This town is surrounded by huge medieval walls that are currently being stripped of the buildings that have been erected along them in recent years so that they may stand in their original form. Many buildings, including the Saint Mary’s Church date as far back as the Middle Ages. This is a great small town to wander around in and get a feel of the local life. They have a festival for 10 days in April where the entire town pretends as if it is the Middle Ages, including dress, markets and ceremonies from that period.
TarragonaDistance from Girona-Costa Airport: 112mi / 181km
This is a very pleasant town indeed and the oldest remains, the bases of the walls alongside the Archaeological passage around the cathedral and two gateways, are well pre-Roman, consisting of umpteen huge blocks.
There are numerous Roman remains, two separate forums for a start, one divided by a main road but with a footbridge linking the parts. The two principal museums, Museu Arqueologic and Museu Historic are fine and the first includes a terrific section on the early development of mosaics.
The old town is full of twisting streets and steps leading up to the Cathedral, fine cloisters but far from my favourite building inside. The views out from the Passeig Arqueologic are impressive, over walls built by the British during the war of the Spanish Succession.
The new town is a smart city with good hotels and a substantial market area and is itself made to seem old by the industrial suburbs. The views out to sea are particularly good [though I was a bit surprised when someone stood beside me and said ‘Italia,’ pointing out to sea.]
Two places had a strong impact. One was the Necropolis with tombs from Roman to early Christian with some Visigothic remains, rare in this part of Spain. Tarragona’s Christian history is old enough too, dating back to St Paul.
Last, but far from least was the Aqueduct. Even the description in my 1990 Rough Guide, ‘the most remarkable [and least visited] sight,’ did not prepare me for the magnificence of it – or for finding myself quite alone there. It is worth knowing that there is a standard fare on the bus and that it is a circular route so that you get back on the bus the same side of the road as where you get off. Fine as the aqueduct at Segovia is (and it is often said to be even better than this one) I must say that, for me, the solitude at this one was particularly moving.
Churches of the Boi Valley
Catalonian Pyrenees , Cataluna (Spain)
The Boi valey is probably attractive enough in its natural scenery to be classified as a natural wonder but the scenery is much enhanced by the gorgeous Romanesque churches found in practically all of the villages. Taull above Boi actually has two.
It is reached by car or bus from Pont de Suert, although outside the summer timetable you need to plan your time for the limited service.
It would be possible to take the early morning bus up to Taull and pick it up on its way back after it had toured round the ski schools – but you would be extremely fed up at having to come away so soon. The bus stop is near the church of St. Climent on the edge of Taull and the nearest bar whose name I forget is an excellent place to eat and it seemed a smashing place to stay as well- at a very good price.