Girona on foot

Oct 20, 2016

Girona is one of the major Catalan cities, and has a complex and interesting history through stories and rulers of the Iberians (indigenous inhabitants), Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and Charlemagne. Though all those changes various religions dominated and combined. In the 12th century the Jewish community flourished in Girona. All of these noteworthy groups have left their mark on the city in architecture, locations, structures, and cathedrals. Girona is an important geographical location within Spain’s history, and has therefore been captured 7 times within the 25 sieges it has undergone!

 

The back of Sally Anderson and the rest of our running group ascending a stone staircase in the heart of Girona

The back of Sally Anderson and the rest of our running group ascending a stone staircase in the heart of Girona

 

 

Today we saw firsthand how unique the location is in relation to the coast, the Pyrenees Mountains, and the 360 degrees of forrest that surrounds the city of today almost 100,000 people.

 

Atop a watchtower which was one of our points of interest along some trails outside the city, we can see part of Girona and the Pyrenees Mts.

Atop a watchtower which was one of our points of interest along some trails outside the city, we can see part of Girona and the Pyrenees Mts.

Our running guide, Pablo, took us through and around the city for over 11 miles to not only go for a run but to explain much history to us and point out noteworthy sites. He was very clear that these tours are about experiencing the area on foot. The act of running is important but emphasis is placed much on exploration and learning using the mode of transportation of our ancestors…by way of foot. This emphasis and pride in the area’s history and traditions reminded me of my time on the Camino and how cool it was to see things while walking.

It was so fun to have a personal tour guide and run at the same time! Interestingly, Pablo is from Costa Rica but his wife and co-owner of this company Running Costa Brava, Cristina is Girona-born and the couple together have embraced the culture, language, and even history of the area as their own. Pablo spoke with conviction and pride about this Catalonian area of the country; how it will welcome anyone from any country and culture with open arms if they are wanting and willing to learn its unique language and become part of its eclectic culture. Pablo fluently speaks no less than 3 languages and knows this history of Catalonia like the back of his hand. He spoke freely today while running alongside us, relaying stories and facts. He also taught me some Catalonia words and phrases, which are very different than the Spanish I know.

Pablo can be fun and silly as well as educational as he guides us along the trails he knows so well outside of Girona

Pablo can be fun and silly as well as educational as he guides us along the trails he knows so well outside of Girona

The city of Girona, founded in 715 AD, is interesting and beautiful in the way that many old European places are – with much stonework, plaques explaining the many historical and meaningful sites, and even the air about it thick with history and mystery alike.

We ran over part of the ancient wall that protected the city, through many trails in and out of the city and up to a watch tower than used to be the first line of defense for Girona in the 12th century; then back down into the heart of Girona. We crossed paths with the old Jewish community (Mont Judic) as well as a 12th century cathedral that broke all the laws of construction at the time of building (did not incorporate any internal columns). All this and much more was relayed by Pablo as we ran or jogged along today’s route. So interesting!

Chad and Sally Anderson with me in front of the cathedral in Girona (the one with no interior columns)

Chad and Sally Anderson with me in front of the cathedral in Girona (the one with no interior columns)

 

The pace was extremely casual, all 6 of us stayed together and stopped at times for photos or in-depth explanations of certain structures. The total mileage today was about 11.5 miles.

The terrain was about 95% trail, some of which was very steep and rocky with loose dirt footing. It was challenging and fun!

This afternoon after the run and a rest, I spend some hours with Sally and Chad Anderson from Boulder; the ones who thad told me about this tour in the first place. We wandered about Girona together, exploring and shopping (mostly for fun food items).

Our whole group met back up for a pre-arranged dinner at a local renowned restaurant with a 3-course meal and wine. Very delicious and fun! The reservation as for 9pm, which is “early” by typical Spanish dinner times. When we were leaving, around 11pm, the place was packed!

Today I was reflective on the differences between a city with hundreds of thousands of years of history compared to our nation’s history, and the perspectives, culture and attitudes that come with that difference – for good and bad. I love being in a far-away place to be able to consider these things in the actual context of a different culture. I was also reminded of the importance of being flexible and the ability to alter my expectations at any moment when traveling and running with a group!! I am getting farther away from competition and “training” and having my own exercise agenda than ever before, and it feels good.

Sitting inside a "window" created by fallout of rocks from the watchtower above Girona

Sitting inside a “window” created by fallout of rocks from the watchtower above Girona

 

The Catalonia Independence flag hangs outside many windows and homes around here.  The "regular" flag of the area of Catalonia just has the stripes; this one that proclaims their desire for independence from the country has the blue triangle and star.

The Catalonia Independence flag hangs outside many windows and homes around here. The “regular” flag of the area of Catalonia just has the stripes; this one that proclaims the nationalists’ desire for independence from the rest of Spain ┬áhas the blue triangle and star.

Thanks for reading!

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