I love the medieval city of Girona, although a city this size scarcely seems large enough to be a city at all. I love the way its cathedral rises out of the earth to greet you as the plane swoops in to land. I love the pomegranate and peach houses that line up all higgledy-piggledy, as though eager to please my lens. And I love, most of all, the legacy you can find here thanks to the work of two men. We'll get to that in a minute. Along with an overall look at things to do in Girona, Spain.
Eleven bridges, or puentes, criss and cross the Onyar river and they each have different sense of flavour and fun.
The best part is the way to see the city, all jiggledy, higgledy, wriggledy, piggledy in ochre and red, sunset yellow and chrome, jostling to overhang the river.
The Pont de Pedra deserves its fame for its arches but it's the Pont de Ferro in criss-cross red that's the more intriguing.
That's the work of one Mr Eiffel. Before he became famous and before he changed his name.
Girona's most famous bridge comes thanks to the work of Gustave Bönickhausen, a French engineer.
I have a feeling you already know his work well and if you don't believe me, have a look over here. That's right, he's the man who came up with the ironwork that made lovers swoon, that defied all the critics and that gave Paris its icon.
He also changed his last name along the way.
But before he got around to either of those two things, he made a detour to Girona and built a bridge there. A short, scarlet mesh of a contraption that lured me dangerously close to the word "monstrosity."
But once I stood upon the Eiffel Bridge, I had a change of heart. Sure, critics might say it looks as though it was flung up one night by the same construction company that takes care of car parks or, worse, the Ryanair website design. But once you're on the bridge, looking out at Girona, the sweetness of Eiffel's eye begins to shine through.
Girona's riverbanks are beautiful. They deserve to be seen as much as they can. The violence of the red and the criss-cross of the beams simply encourage your eyes to look away faster.
It's the only explanation... ;-)
Everyone said you must visit 50 Santa Clara.
And what lives at this hallowed address? Why an ice-cream shop from Jordi Roca, the man who served up heaven in a pink and white spiral at the tastebud trembling El Celler de Can Roca restaurant, which earns awards left, right and centre for being one of the best restaurants in the world. Time and again.
Named Rocambolesc, it's filled from floor to ceiling with stripy boiled sweets captured in old-fashioned jars, plus scoops, cones and tubs of ice cream in vanilla, chocolate and spicy mandarin. There are cookbooks to inspire creativity and queues that snake out through the door.
It's Catalan but it's still Spain and so, as expected, you'll find cathedrals and stairs.
Girona Cathedral took its time, being built between the 11th and 18th centuries, but the work was worth it. It roots itself in the city, its staircase filling the sides and walls and making a natural stony canvas for the exuberant annual flower festival.
Take one city that oozes with medieval charm and Mediterranean style, throw in hundreds of thousands of petals and then let creativity run wild. The result is the Temps de Flors, or Festival of Flowers, in Girona. Every year, this Spanish town scraps admission fees and lets the scent of roses fill the air. Queues thread around the cloisters, crowds fill the squares, while classical music drifts across the streets. Shops display tulip stickers and buttercup cakes, while poets use broken pianos and flower cascades to reflect the pain of a life cut short.
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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