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Monday, May 14, 2018

Return to Barcelona 2017! Girona


I fell head over heels in love with this gorgeous city, that Trip Adviser states is "One of the most historic sites in Spain, Girona lies in northeast Catalonia, just 99 km (62 miles) from Barcelona. Founded by Romans, the city later was taken over by Moors and Franks before finally falling under the rule of Barcelona. Influenced by different cultures and religions, the city beckons visitors with beautiful architecture. The Old and New Town offer many opportunities to pleasurably get lost and observe local life and culture." 

I agree with every word! My first view of Girona was on the previously posted-about bus tour on our way to Figures and the Dali Museum. I was overwhelmed with the colors, the shapes, the architecture, the old stones and Jewish quarter*, the Game of Thrones locations and most of all, the warmth of the people! 

I had been invited by Urban Sketchers Girona to visit, having met them in Alegries a week or so before. Montse (another Montse!) met me at the train station and acted as my guide for a day of sketching together and seeing the sites of this city where her roots run deep. She did not speak English and my Catalan and Spanish were very basic! With the help of a translator app on my phone, my rudimentary understanding of her language and her ability to speak slowly and clearly to me, along with hand gestures and genuine willingness to communicate we did quite well understanding each other!

USk Girona planned a special Sketch Walk just for me and I met them in the evening along with Montse and several sketchers to sketch together and enjoyed a drink with those who could come, afterwards. I was so delighted! Unfortunately I had picked up a cold somewhere in my travels and began to feel sick as the night wore on. By the time I fell into bed I knew I was sick and spent a very restless night, as this killer of a cold took hold of me. I had planned to meet with Montse again that morning to sketch together again, but was too sick to do anything but go back to Barcelona to my bed there! She was so sweet! She helped me back to the train station and made sure I got on the right train, tenderly, as a mother would her young child! I cried all the way home during the 45 minute train ride, from feeling sick and feverish, to just being sorry to have had to cut my visit short, hailed a taxi at the train station and pulled the covers over me back in my cosy apartment.

When my "landlords" Alexandro and Fernando learned I was sick, they brought me soup and juice and meds for the cold and fever and checked on me often to make sure I was getting better. I slept that day and the following day and finally was feeling well enough to get back outside and continue this amazing trip.

Some self-explanatory photos of Girona for you to enjoy:






















































*From The Jewish Encyclopedia.com: "The Jews left (read: EXPELLED FROM) Gerona on Aug. 2, 1492, only a few accepting baptism; and the houses in the Jewry were sold at auction. The old synagogue, which had been destroyed in 1285 with the rest of the Jewry—the Jews apparently having been driven out (Solomon ibn Adret, Responsa, No. 634)—and rebuilt some years later, passed in 1494 into the possession of the presbytery of the cathedral, and, unaltered in its main features, now belongs to D. José Bover de Besalu. An inscription pertaining to it, found about fifteen years ago, is now in the Archeological Museum at Gerona.

Gerona, a strictly religious community, in which much attention was paid to the study of the Talmud, was the birthplace of several men bearing the cognomen "Gerondi," who have made the city famous. Among the scholars who lived in Gerona were: Isaac ha-Levi and his son, Zerahiah ha-Levi; Jonah ben Abraham Gerondi, Nissim ben Reuben Gerondi (RaN), Abraham Ḥazzan Gerondi, Isaac b. Judah Gerondi, Solomon ben Isaac Gerondi (a pupil of Moses b. Naḥman), Moses de Scola Gerondi, Samuel b. Abraham Saporta (a tombstone of Enoch ben Shealtiel Saporta, who died in 1312, was found in Gerona in 1873), the eminent Moses ben Naḥman (RaMBaN), called "Rab d'España"; and his son, Naḥman ben Moses. Gerona was also the birthplace of the cabalists Azriel and Ezra and of Jacob ben Sheshet Gerondi. The tombstone of a Joshua ben Sheshet and his wife was found on the Monjuich near Gerona in 1883. 
(to read more about the sad history of the Jews in Catalonia and Girona, visit http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6607-gerona)

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