Tuesday, 28 May 2013

From small towns to Big cities...

Moving on from Montpellier was difficult.

We had found such a nice beach and could have easily stayed there for a week or two, but we wanted to keep exploring.
Le Boulou from near our van

After a mornings drive and a few minutes perusing the Aires directory we chose an aire we could find to stay on, which included showers, stumbling upon the small French port town of Gruissan where we were able to hand wash our clothes, fill up with water and watch the French play their Boules so passionately.

Le Boulou was the next town we were to stop off in. And it was so beautiful we stayed for 2 nights. Our plot was 100m from the side of the river, 3 minute walk in to town where we enjoyed stuffed squid and rice for lunch. Le menu d'jour. On the way back to the van we passed a butcherie and got 2 nice big burgers minced straight from the steak in front of us.
Kerry entering the Greek settlement of Emporium

These were enjoyed on the BBQ on the edge of the river with a couple of bottles of wine that evening. Afterward we played Boules with our quite amateurish set of plastic balls. But I did win all the same :)
Heading further down the coast passing through the French/Spanish border at le Perthus and spending the afternoon on the beach in Roses (where I took my first very cold dip!)

That evening around 5pm we drove past some Roman Ruins and took a look inside. Luckily the entrance was free on that particular day but it would shut in an hour so we felt a bit rushed. The settlement used to be called Emporion (meaning Market in Greek) as it was a major trading town even as far back as 9th century BC. Items were shipped here from all over the med including as far as Phocaea (modern day Turkey).

The 'Romanisation' of the Iberian Peninsula began in 195 BC when Marcus Porcius Cato setup a military camp at Empuries. The Roman and Greek settlements physically and legally became one in the 1st century AD called Municipium Emporiae

Eventually it was superseded by the rapidly expanding cities of Girona and Barcelona and was deserted in the 3rd century AD with only the Northern part being used as a cemetery for the nearby town of L'Escala.

We settled that night under a castle propped up on a hill and I wondered what life would have been like centuries ago compared to now. Probably not alot different in Europe. People milling around, chatting in squares, spot of shopping then lots of food and maybe a beheading. Ok... theres the difference.

Girona seemed to entice us in. Every time I asked kerry if she thought we should stop there, she nodded and we felt good about it. Parking up was fairly easy and there seemed to be a stream of people all walking down the rivers edge towards town. We followed until huge floral displays started popping up in ally ways, courtyards and staircases. It was a Festival of Flowers.

The weather wasnt too good so we abused the shelter of the Girona history museum and the old Jewish 'Call' which was now showing off its relics. In the History Museum I was pleasantly surprised to see some large industrial machinery including the first three phase motors and generators pioneered by engineers during the early use of electricity and the Girona led industrial revolution. Girona being one of the first cities to try electric street lighting.

Leave a message after the .._.
This machine intrigued me. From what I could surmise by looking, it would print out morse signals being received on to a roll of very thin paper for the operator to read later. A kind of early answering machine I suppose. 

The Eastern side of Girona was protected by a very large (I'd say 15 metres in places) wall with encampments and fortresses along it. The city has spilled out to the otherside of the wall now but walking along it gives brilliant views of the city and the snow topped Pyrenees behind. It was kind of surreal that you could go from the hustle and bustle of the crammed medieval streets to the relative calm and open space on the wall.
Massive machinery with 100A motor

Flowers everywhere.. and not always as Flowers!

My Girona

1 comment:

  1. Well jealous! Still got my ticket booked for end of June. Don't stray to far North, looking forward to some sun and I'm expecting paella!