Technically, Catalonia IS Spanish – much to the dismay of many of the residents! Catalonia is one of the most prosperous regions of Spain and Catalans here feel they are subsidising the rest of the country and they want out! So much so, that they refuse to speak Spanish – having their own language, Catalan- fly the Catalan flag everywhere ( more flegs here than in East Belfast on July 12th!!) and even went as far as to hold their own “Leave/Remain” Referendum in 2014- the result of which is irrelevant since Madrid deemed it to be illegal!
Thankfully the rain had stopped at some point in the early hours and the sun was desperately trying to burn off the low cloud hovering in the valley. We headed off for a walk around the old town’s narrow winding streets and to admire the medieval architecture before we left. Ripoll itself is not what you could call a “pretty” town. Built in the valley and surrounded by the Pyrenees on three sides, it’s rather a dark and gloomy place and mostly industrial BUT it does have an interesting Old Town, with a 10th Century monastery which still stands proud today. It is said to be the birthplace of Catalonia and, in its heyday, during the 10th century, would have been a thriving town. Now, apart from the sprawling industrial estates outside of the town, it seems to rely heavily on tourism.
We decided we would make for Girona today- it seems to be an interesting city, worthy of an overnight stop if we can actually find somewhere to park up overnight. The weather is improving by the minute now and it’s actually beginning to feel like we really are in warmer climes.
We had a great drive, along fab roads with very little traffic , passing through a handful of small villages and towns, with spectacular mountain scenery until just outside Girona when the roads became much, much busier – as one would expect around a large city! We managed to find a Lidl on the outskirts in which to buy bread and other assorted bits – getting into the car park was tight, to say the least – getting out was even tighter! By this stage, the outside temp gauge was showing a whopping 23C ! We took another look at the map and decided we didn’t need to schlepp around Girona when we could, in fact, make The Costa Brava in less time than it might take us to find a city centre parking spot!
Decision made! We’ll be on the beach at Palamos later today!! Yippee!