Today is our second day living in Girona – the city we picked, on paper, to live in while we were still back in Phoenix contemplating our move to Spain and brainstorming where best to live. After one month in Barcelona, one month in Blanes and the past four months in Banyoles – and a full 8 months since settling on Girona as the place we would live in in Spain – here we are. We purchased a small apartment on the edge of the “old” part of town with views of the Cathedral – a 5-minute walk to the train station in one direction and a 5-minute walk to the heart of the old town in the other direction (recognizable in several GoT episodes). We spent most of this week moving our items here from our rental apartment in Banyoles. While we don’t own many things, the size of our car (small) and the trips required (6) made it feel like we were moving a small village.
We picked Girona, at least on paper, for its strategic location (equidistant to Barcelona, the beaches and the mountains) and the quintessential Catalonian city life it offers (delicious food, active nights and quiet mornings, gothic architecture, markets, festivals, etc), all in the package of a quiet, clean and easy-to-live-in small city (at least compared to its big sister, Barcelona) – something we appreciate more and more with both time and age. The beaches of Costa Brava to the east are a 30-45 minute drive away, as are the Pyrenees to the north-west along the French border. Barcelona is 40-minutes away via the high-speed train. In addition to the weekly markets, summer festivals (the Flower Festival was last week and the craft beer festival in June, for example) and the general history of Girona, what makes Girona unique, for me at least, is its “sporty” international scene thanks to the professional cyclists who call Girona home, and the swelling number of cycling enthusiasts who call Girona home during their cycling vacations throughout the year. With these folks (and their money) come the perks of high-end coffee shops (La Marzocco machines are not common at your average coffee shop), not to mention cycling shops, and an active, sporty sub-culture without the more general-purpose younger (and rowdy) tourism of Barcelona. We knew most of these things on paper back in Phoenix, but over the past few months lived and experienced them directly, giving us the confidence to settle down here and plant roots. There is also decent running from city center, with rolling mountains on the outskirts of town that provide door-to-door elevation gain of over 1.300m in a sub 25k run. So after picking Girona on paper back in Phoenix, today, some 8 months later, we can say that we are here (it is still our hope to have a home in the country as well, but no longer feel rushed now that we have a place here).
In Other News
In between moving and planning to move, we celebrated Spanish mother’s day in Barcelona with our moms (my mom making an impromptu stop-over for a few days on her way back to the US from Chamonix, where she was training for Mt Rainier) and spent a week in La Palma in the Canary Islands off the coast of Morroco, where I finished my first race of the running season, Transvulcania, in 10 hours, 7 minutes and 39 seconds, placing 81 out of the 1,212 runners who started (race report here). I’m skipping next week’s race in Madeira to focus on training for the Mt Blanc 90k. With over 6.000m of climbing, I need a good training block in the Pyrenees to have the legs to finish that competitively. After that we head to Andorra for July and Chamonix for August for UTMB. Finishing UTMB is one of my 10-year goals, which universe-willing I hope to complete this year.