Girona: a Love Story

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Words and Photography by Dalene Heck

I’ve written only one other love story on this blog, and that was about Pete and I.

Thus the weight of that post should highlight the importance of what I am about to write about a simple urban center in the Catalonia region of Spain. Luminous and colorful, perched on a hillside with medieval walls, small but chock-full of amenities – Girona appears the perfect city for people who don’t like cities.

So right away, the two of us got off to a great start.


Girona is pure romance. And not necessarily the kind of romance that inspires corny love, with cartoon birds leading two people together, or slurping noodles (or in this case, a slice of jamon) until lips meet under the glow of candlelight. Not to say that Girona couldn’t be that. It is a place that requires long leisurely meals fuelled by local cava, has several bridges over the Onyar river for strolling and smooching on, and so much more. It is an ideal spot for lovers to discover or bolster their feelings for one another.

But I was there under different circumstances, and at first glance, I labeled those circumstances as unfortunate. After a brief stay for a few days, Pete then took off on a trip through Pyrenees, leaving me for six nights on my own. That is a rare occurrence – in the last several years Pete and I have only ever been apart for a handful of nights. Six in a row would be a test. And I immediately kinda failed when I asked my friend Katie to come and stay with me for a few of those nights in order to spend some quality time with her, but also, I admit, to placate my own loneliness.

But once she left and I was on my own in Girona, instead of feeling lost I found myself swept up in a romantic notion. Of being independent, of finding inspiration, of finding myself.

(WAIT. That IS terribly corny. But true.)


I know you don’t want to hear me whine about not being with Pete (I’ve done that before. And then again.) And this time, I didn’t even feel compelled to do so. I felt comprehensively happy. Proud of myself. Adventurous. I went for walks on my own, I ate dinner out alone, I had offers to meet up with other friends in the area but actually preferred the silence.

Maybe, after these several years of being a part of a rigid twosome, maybe I was due for some serious introspective time. I expect part of it was that, but I also firmly believe that Girona brought the best out of me. What Pete expected of me may have been correct in other places – refusing to go out on my own, having only toast and peanut butter every night for dinner, lamenting constantly about the sad state of my loneliness – but I felt at complete ease in this small Catalonian city. I was in the comfort of an amazing apartment right on the river and had a choice of superb restaurants within meters. The very best gelato in the world was a couple of minutes away. I walked anywhere and everywhere without a care in the world and a ridiculous perma-grin plastered on my face.

Flowers even decorated the streets and river in advance of the famed Flower Festival. (Although I liked to think I was just apart of Girona’s seductive plan for me.)

Dinner for one!
Dinner for one!
The best gelato is not in Italy, it's at Rocambolesc in Girona.
The best gelato is not in Spain, it’s at Rocambolesc in Girona.

I found myself writing more and, being more productive than I have been in awhile. And even though I was in deep with a client that had me fuming at times, nothing could kill my optimism about my time in beautiful Girona.

So much so that I believe Pete began to get worried about my independence and newfound love of a city without him. (But he also made sure I wouldn’t forget about him by planting a few messages before he left.)


where i stayed

As you know, we are giant advocates of Airbnb and finding stellar apartments all over the world, and of the dozens upon dozens that we’ve rented, this riverside apartment in Girona might be our favourite.Don’t forget that if you sign-up with Airbnb using this link, you get $25 off your first stay (and it gives us a little extra credit too)!

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  1. ahahahaha I have to say I recognize that dinner for one with the kindle on the table. So like me! I still spend a lot of time in hotels while working, so I guess I’ve learn by now to be alone, but once I reach back home, nobody can remove the smile of my face.
    Beautiful photos

  2. Good for you! I’ve never been on my own in a foreign city, but you’ve given me courage. You probably noticed things you wouldn’t have, as part of a pair. Love the photos.

  3. It was so awesome hanging with you, and I am going through some major Hecktic withdrawal! I was super happy to help you gradually adjust to your Pete-free week, especially given your penchant for lavender-coconut gelato and the gorgeous setting. Anytime! Seriously…when can we do it again?

  4. So glad to hear you were able to embrace the time alone in the end, I think it is important for everyone to have alone time at least occasionally

  5. What a gorgeous place to wander alone!
    There are so many flowers – the layout of the city looks similar to Florence.
    I have to admit that it does get tough to be alone while dinning out but good ol’ electronics and books always stave away my tendency to eavesdrop when alone.

    1. Oh yes, eavesdropping is the best entertainment. 🙂

      Hmmm, I don’t think it’s too similar to Florence, hard to compare because it seems so tiny and laid back in comparison!

  6. YES. Of all the places I have been in Europe, Girona is my favorite. “The city for people who don’t like cities” is the perfect way to describe it. It’s at the top of my list of “places in Europe that I would LOVE to live!”. Thanks for taking me back. 🙂

  7. Last visit, I think I spent the morning walking around parts of the ramparts and the views and walk were just amazing – I could have spent the entire day just doing that and exploring the cool neighborhoods

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