One week in Girona Spain too much time?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Sep 8, 2012 9:27 AM Last Post By: sushi75
Sep 7, 2012 10:25 PM
One week in Girona Spain too much time?Hello, all, hope I can get some insight into this from those who've visited Girona and environs before.
My husband, teen daughter (will be 15 at time of trip) and I are planning a potential trip to Barcelona and Catalonia for June 2013. After reading guidebooks and online forums and guides for the past month or so, we've decided to stay in Barcelona for one week, then stay in Girona for one week, to use as a base for day trips by bus/train to outlying areas. We also are interested in a couple of guided day tours from Girona by - Local Tours, I believe is the name? - to Olot and one of the volcanoes there; (I cannot seem to find a way to see the volcanoes by bus and walking) and maybe to Figueres and Cadaques. (I may do this latter trip on our own, by bus and train, if feasible.)
Here's the thing - a friend of mine has been to Barcelona twice, and said she visited Girona for the day. She said we'd be bored there all week. I explained we will not just see Girona, but will be doing day trips as well to the countryside and a coastal town maybe; maybe renting bikes, if possible, for the day to ride the greenway I hear is there?
But her comments give me pause - Would we be bored in Girona for a week? I still don't think so, although I've never been, but I need some validation now.
I'm considering booking accommodation for Girona this week. We want to rent an apt. instead of hotel, and the apts seem to be few and booking fast, at least the few I've seen. So I want to resolve this with myself, :).
For what it;s worth, we are very slow-moving when touring, :). My husband and daughter love photography and because of that it seems to take us twice as long to get anywhere when visiting a place. It's something I've learned to accept about them, and now I just work it into the schedule - which often means we need more time in a place. I mean, they are happy spending an entire hour or two photographing a sunset in one given spot, or photographing a building from every possible angle... I'm used to finding a nice spot to sit and people-watch and wait for them. Which is fine, really.
That's why I'm thinking we would not only need a week in Girona, but it's probably not enough time for us. (Barcelona, too..)
Last year, we went to Florence Italy for just a week, and did one day tour into a couple of the surrounding hill towns. While I felt satisfied with Florence after the trip, I felt myself wishing we'd had an extra week to stay in one of the outlying towns and just hang out, take pictures, walk, drink wine, eat and chill.
So that's what I'm trying to plan for this upcoming trip - one week in the busy city, Barcelona, and after that, relaxing in Girona for a few days and taking a couple of trips by bus to other places on other days..
So, has anyone spent a week in Girona? How was your experience there? Plenty to occupy your time?
Thank you for your advice.
Edited by: yellowjacket
Sep 8, 2012 2:32 AM
1It is always niceto be in a beautiful place for more then one day. You will find the little bar where they know what sort of coffee you want and start making it when you walk in. You will get to know the streets, the market, the atmosphere and begin to feel at home. Do go to Girona for as long as you want. It is great.
Sep 8, 2012 6:15 AM
2Oh, a slow traveller... What a pleasure to read posts like yours from time to time :)
Short answer: no, it's not too much.
Longer answer (and I'll be happy to write more if you have specific questions on the following):
I cannot tell whether you'll be bored to spend one week in Girona. I did it, and was not. I'm sorry for your friend, she must have very few interests in life - or surely fewer than I do.
So - based on my own interests, which include taking plenty of photographs - two days in Girona were barely enough to see what the city has to offer (monuments, musems, walks, sights... I can tell you what I did and saw more in details. If interested, just ask). I should add I've been to Girona twice and still I haven't managed to see all the place offers (again, based on my own interests). For you who have to wait husband & daughter, there are dozens of lovely cafés where you can sit, wait, watch people, have great food and drinks :)
Girona is an excellent base for day trips around, which I did using public transportation. I managed to get by bus even to very small places, and I found the bus service really good and reliable. Some people think the bus service is very limited - but to Italian standards it's not, and with a careful planning I think you can still do quite a lot of sightseeing. The only place where I was interested to go, which could not be reached by using public transportation was Pubol. For all the others I found at least one bus.
I didn't join guided tours from Girona, as this made little sense for me. I did join guided tours though, once I was in a place and wanted to know more about a specific sight. But other than that, I prefer to go at my own pace and not have to run after a group of people. Here's what I saw (all are doable day trips from Girona and offered me plenty of photo opportunities).
- Figueres (you should be able to go also by train) is the most obvious day trip from Girona, but to me probably not so interesting as the other places I mention below. If you do go to Figueres, please don't do as the standard tourists limiting themselves to Teatre-Museo Dali. Do visit also Castell de Sant Ferran, and look for modernist houses in the town centre (photo opportunities!). A nice place for you to stop while waiting for your husband and daughter is at a café on Sant Pere square (very picturesque church, too).
- Cadaqués, Cap de Creus Natural Park and Dalí House-Museum in Portlligat. Actually, this could be easily a 2-day trip: one day for Cadaqués and Portlligat, and one day to walk in Cap de Creus Natural Park. Portlligat is at a 10-15 minutes' walk from Cadaqués. Only up to 8 people every ten minutes are allowed to enter the Dalí House-Museum, so it is highly recommend to book one’s tickets in advance. Also, if for some reasons you decide to skip Figueres, you may be still happy to visit only Portlligat. I have visited both museums and I preferred the one in Portlligat (even though there was obviously no Mae West Room, which I found to be the best part of the Figueres Museum). In Cadaques, too, you'd find cafes in front of the sea where to wait for your husband and daughter.
- Besalu, where I recommend that you book a guided tour at the local tourist office. They offer several guided tours. I recommend to book the one where you can get inside the miqve (only one of three found so far in Europe). People who have zero interest in history should not bother to see it, as this will look just like some meaningless stones. For the others, it’ll be a touching visit. Besalú is most famous for its Medieval fortified bridge, and there are great Romanesque churches, but the town is not only about past history. There are also two interesting pieces of contemporary art: Difficult Dream and Impossible Dream (google them). Except the miqve, you can see everything else on your own, but a guide will be able to tell you more about Jewish heritage. Since I understand Spanish, I did not enquire about English-language guided tours. If interested, just check their official website. There are some nice cafés in the main square, where you may sit and wait for your husband and daughter.
- Banyoles, which may be visited on the same day as Besalu (same bus route), was originally just a second choice, but it turned out to be one of best surprises of my trip. First, it’s got a lovely lake (ok, nothing so impressive as e.g. Maggiore Lake), but it’s a great place where to relax. One can walk all around the lake (6.5 km) or rent a bike. Second, there’re many photo opportunities for examples of pesqueras (sort of fishermen’s houses, google them). Third, among many shameful Paellador-style restaurants, I found a jem of a restaurant, Fonda La Paz, Ponent 18. Banyoles is the one place where no nice cafés come to my mind, where you may sit and wait for your husband and daughter.
- Olot (same bus route to Besalu) with its modernist house and a volcano interpretation centre. From Olot, I took a taxi to the Volcanic Area of Garrotxa (just a 10-minute drive). I joined a half-a-day guided and interpretative walk led by the park personnel. That was one of the highlights of my trip in Catalonia. If interested, be aware that you need to understand at least a bit of Catalan or Castilian, as there are no English-language guided walks. You also need to call beforehand to book your walk. You find a list of all the available walks here: http://www.turismegarrotxa.com/hiking/discover-la-garrotxa_197_en.html . I chose the one to the Volca del Croscat, I really enjoyed it. You can also walk on your own, but I personally prefer guided walks where I don't get lost (I have an awful direction sense) and where I'm explained what I'm seeing. To go back to Olot, I was going to call a taxi, but then I asked the park guide to give me a lift back to town.
Hope this helps.
PS: It's very old, but the most useful guidebook I have found is the 2002 Rough Guide to Costa Brava. I think the Lonely Planet does not even mention Banyoles.
Sep 8, 2012 7:33 AM
3sushi75 - Thank you! Yes what you wrote here helps immensely! Esp. about Olot, which I'm determined to see, since we'll be so close. In fact, this is the msot detailed info I've seen thus far about visiting Olot by bus...
The tour from Girona that I speak of is actually a private tour by a guide who will drive us to the volcanic area and walk us around. The tour also includes Besalu and Banyoles in the same day, it is from 9am to 6-ish pm.
One of the reasons I'm interested in the tour is it's scheduled, and with my two traveling companions, we tend to see more on a schedule, :). I actually missed going to Fiesole in Florence because they were putzing that day, editing their photos on the laptop, etc.. so we ended up not having enough time. If I'd booked the tour there I'd considered, we would have went. Hence - lesson learned - to get these two out the door, sometimes, book a scheduled tour, :).
However - alas, now, my husband tells me he may not get to go for two full weeks, :(. Either way, we'll spend at least 3-4 nights in Girona and do what we can...
Thank you both again for the validation I needed. I'm bookmarking this page.
Sep 8, 2012 7:35 AM
4And yes, we are indeed "slow" travelers - how nice that someone else understands where we're coming from. People actually told me there wasn't enough to do in Florence and Paris for a week. They were very wrong (and they must have very short attention spans). I still need to go back to both places!
Sep 8, 2012 7:36 AM
5One week in Girona Spain too much time?
As you plan to make daytrips from there, no, it isn't too much time.
The only place where I was interested to go, which could not be reached by using public transportation was Pubol.
But there are trains to Flaçà only 4km away and buses to la Pera only 2km away.
@sushi75: Didn't you go to Peratallada and to Pals? If not, you should make it on your next trip. There are few buses to those destinations and you could need to stay there overnight though.
Sep 8, 2012 9:27 AM
6yellowjacket, thanks for acknowledging the replies you got, and I'm glad I was of some help. On the one side, I'd say that Olot, Besalu and Banyoles deserve more than one day on a guided tour. On the other side, I understand you when you say that you're going to see more on a schedule with your husband and daughter. One of the reasons why I like to travel solo is just to have enough time to do what I like (and taking pictures is one of them, and that takes me soooo long). I feel guilty when people travelling with me and not being so slow as me have to wait ages for me...
Anyway, for what my opinion is worth, if you only have time for a second day trip, I recommend that you go to Cadaqués rather than Figueres. As regards Fiesole, see this missed visit in a positive way. As my father says, we always have to leave some sights for our next trip, so that we have an excuse to return :) I understand that for most people a next trip is not always feasible, but hey, one never knows!
anillos_de_saturno, thanks for your info. It's a pity I didn't have access to your expertise when I travelled to Catalonia, and unfortunately I haven't managed to go back to Spain since you have started posting here. But now I've booked ten days in Andalucia for Christmas holidays, and I'd love to profit of the wealth of knowledge you have. Would you mind if I contact you via PM? Some TTers don't like PM's and if you're one of them, it's ok. I'll just post any questions I may have on here.
Going back to your post, I've actually been to Pubol, Peratallada and Pals - all lovely places, but then, I haven't yet visited a single place in Spain which I haven't liked :) So far I've been 3 times to Catalonia. The first two times I only relied on public transportation, and since my time was limited, I chose those destinations that could be more easily reached by bus (or train). The third time I was with my family and went by car. We managed to visit Pubol, Peratallada, Pals and other destinations (like Sant Pere de Rodes or Santa Pau) which are of easier access by car. But despite three trips to Catalonia, there's still so much I want to visit, including Begur, Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc, the Modernist sights in Terrassa and Reus, and then the south, with Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltru, Tarragona, Altafulla, Santes Creus, Montblanc, Poblet, Delta de l'Ebre Natural Park... and I think I have forgot some other places... Thankfully, as an Italian woman, I have a life expectancy of 84 years :)
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