Costa Brava is the most eastern part of the coast to the Mediterranean. We could actually see the eastern part of the Pyrenees . So Costa Brava is a rocky coast.
Along this rough coast were small towns. Originally I assume they were fishing villages, but clearly tourism was the main source of income now.
We visited a couple of these villages and here are some impressions from them.
One of these towns had a t-shirt with it’s name on.Who can read the name?
We drove up north close to the French border and the Pyrenees. It was a beautiful landscape and we stayed in a really fine hotel.
The surroundings were great both close to the hotel and the view.
But in the morning we experienced the Tramuntana wind, blowing from the Pyrenees, and that was a strong wind. It was actually hard to walk into the wind. It is said to influence the mind, “locat per la Tramuntana” and made people like Dali behave differently.
It was a beautiful area, actually how I imagined rural Spain to be. (sorry, I mean Catalonia).
Girona is ancient, the Iberians lived there before the Romans who built a citadell there. Through the ages the city has been sieged 26 times and captured and sacked 7 times. Part of the old wall surrounding the city is still there. We were told it was a city with four rivers, but I saw only one and may be a valley where a river might have been.
The old city has a Jewish quarter and it is really a nice part of the city. Episodes of season 6 of games of Thrones were filmed there. It was a center of Kabballah and had the most important Kabbalistic school until 1492 when Jews were outlawed and the Jews had to flee or convert.
Of course it was a cathedral on top of an impressive stairway.
and quite a few other churches.
We celebrated Sant Jordi (St. George) the 23. april in Girona and I will post separately about that.
I lost the group once in Girona and had a great time walking around the old city by myself. I later found the group, they did not miss me or find me, at the cathedral.
Some random house facades. (may be not so random).
We spent the fist night in a small village, Rupit, with 281 inhabitants. It was clearly a popular tourist spot, so we saw more people than that. Rupit is old with narrow streets and steps.
The houses were built between a river and a rock with the ruins of a castle.
Over the river was a suspension bridge with a maximum load of 10 people!
I really enjoyed the stay in Riput. It was a unique place. I have never experienced anything like it. But it is still a mystery to me how the travel agent found it. It even had a local t-shirt.
The Catalonian architect Gaudi is famous for the cathedral in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia. At the same time he designed a church for Güell, an owner of a large textile factory.
Grüell had a textile factory in Barcelona, but that was not without problems. So in 1890 he moved the factory north from Barcelona. He built a whole village (Santa Coloma de Cervelló) for his workers with schools, library, soccer pitch etc, so the village was more or less selfcontained. The worler’s were larger than normal, had big windows and good ventilation.
The village should of course have a church and Gaudi was asked to design it. He made huge plans, but it was never completed. A small church-room was finished and that was unique and beautiful.
Gaudi felt that both Roman and Gothic arches were against nature as the needed sideways support. So he took the shape of a chain suspended in both ends, turned it upside down and said that is the correct natural form of an arch. A consequence from that is that there are no vertical pillars.
Gaudi used a lot of mosaic on the exterior and I don’t think it was a straight line or a square corner.
All this was news to me and it was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed this visit.
I don’t think we met anyone who called the city anything but Saigon.
Honestly the city did not make any special impression on me. I have found out I don’t like big cities, especially if they try to be western.
What did make an impression on me was the number of motorcycles and it looked they had their own traffic rules, red light were not for them, sidewalks were great to drive on.
The capital of Cambodia is of course Phnom Penh. The city was not impressive in itself, but two sites made impression on me: The Royal Palace and S-21.
S-21 is the old school where Khmer Rouge had an interrogating an torture institution. It was too awful so I did not even consider to take pictures inside the building. I took three outside, of the main building, a statue and of one of the two that survived S-21.
I had a conversation with a Cambodian that really illustrated that I was in a different culture. I asked why Pol Pot was not taken to any court. He answered that since they believed in incarnation and that what you did and how you lived in one life decided in form a person would be reborn in, Pol Pot would be very hard punished in his next life. To be fair, he added that they were not able to find an impartial court.
A huge contrast to S-21 was the Royal Palace. It was several buildings and we did not see all of them. But the silver pagoda was spectacular.
The floor was silver plates, but they were covered with carpets.