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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East

Highs & Lows around Girona

Steve Porter
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Getting to Girona is not easy without a car. We choose the high road from Ripoll, passing through the volcanic landscapes of La Garrotxa rather than the more direct route through Vic. Our bus driver is clearly accustomed to the route and takes blind corners with gusto. I am not an enthusiastic flyer but for once I would have been glad to be on a plane with any hazards well hidden from view. The town of Olot on the open plain below is a welcome sight. It is the size of Torelló and Ripoll combined but the absence of a railway line leaves it somewhat isolated.

In the bus station, waiting for a connection to Girona, I flick through an exhibition of photographs from around the world. A teenage boy shows his younger brother some photos of Peru. The little boy has never been to the homeland. I look into his dark eyes and he gives me a knowing smile. Maybe he senses that I no longer know where home is either.

The main routes into Girona are lined with retail parks, and cars of every description, including many brand new people carriers. I am glad again that we don’t have a car as I wouldn’t know where to begin to look for a parking space. I am tempted to find other things wrong with Girona, to tell you, reader, that it is a terrible place, and best kept off any itinerary. But Girona’s new town has too many cars and that is about the only fault I can find with the place. In fact, it’s a miracle that the city is not bombarded by armies of tourists as it is truly charming.

But trouble lurks in the most romantic places. I want to visit a friend who lives in the old quarter. Mary would prefer to spend some time idling round the streets.

“Well, do that then,” I say. “It’s just that I told him we were both coming.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have told him that without consulting me first.”

She walks on ahead. I’m losing ground on her. I shout but she keeps going down Carrer Santa Clara until she finds a shop window of interest. I catch up.

“Look, I’ll go and meet Tim myself if you want some time to shop or whatever.”

“It doesn’t matter now. I’d better come along or I’ll look really unsociable.”

“Well. If you’re not in the mood for socialising then don’t fucking bother.”

“No, I’ll just have to go, won’t I? To see your friend,” she sighs.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationAugust 2007
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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