Our roving reporter Alexandra headed to the beautiful cities of Girona and Barcelona and gives us a different insight into these amazing places:
If you want to get a true picture of life in Catalonia head to Barcelona and it’s neighbouring little brother Girona. The two northern Spanish cities are filled with stunning architecture, culture and amazing nightlife in every corner making for the perfect summer break.
All of the major budget airlines have regular flights to both cities, and if you do your sums right, return journeys can be found for under £200. I flew from Stansted Airport to Girona, with a short bus journey taking you to the city centre. Alternatively, if you want to head straight to Barcelona there are trains and coaches direct from outside the airport.
Girona is somewhat overshadowed by Barcelona, but makes you feel you are in true Spain away from tourists. I decided to spend a day there to soak up Catalonian culture in the medieval city. A walk of the city walls from Placa General Marva reveals stunning views of the Pyrenees, with the city located close to France. Continue on to the Saint Feliu church and take part in the tradition of kissing the stone lion climbing a column outside – which means you will be sure to return.
The city is famed for its Jewish quarter – one of the best preserved in Europe. The Jewish population were thrown out in 1492 when Catholic Kings rules to expel them from Catalonia. An impressive museum of Jewish History is filled with artefacts and snippets of information, set within the ‘call’ of cobblestoned alleyways, ancient walls and shops.
A short train journey will take you from Girona to the metropolis of Barcelona – the capital of Catalonia. Within minutes of stepping off the train you are greeted by stunning Antoni Gaudi buildings, bustling crowds and historic churches.
Ramble along the La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous boulevard. Flower stalls, markets and cafes line the streets and it is recommended to spend a few moments people watching. Another popular area to visit is the Gothic Quarter, which used to be a Roman village. Tuck into tapas dishes at some of the city’s finest restaurants while watching buskers entrain the crowds.
The city is also fast attracting music fans with a host of festivals now on offer from spring to the final days of summer. In May Primavera Sound saw revellers dance all night to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds by the sea, while Sonar in June featured a stellar line up of Pet Shop Boys, Skrillex and Jurrasic 5.
Travellers can find hostels, villas and five star hotels to suit whatever your budget can stretch to. We recommend four star Hotel Vincci Maritimo, located close to Mar Bella Beach and the Diagonal Mar shopping centre. Expect to find stylish surroundings, bar and modern restaurant for £40 – £100 a night.