This year, I was invited to be a sketch-artist-in-residence in Costa Brava—the rugged coastline that spans from Blanes, just north of Barcelona, up to Spain’s border with France. All told, I spent six weeks in the region, including a two-week stint in Girona.

I was instantly enchanted by the ancient Catalonian city’s markets and maze-like covered passageways, the melodic church bells that herald the passing of time each day, and the ever-present seagulls who seem to enjoy making their home some 20 miles—as the crow flies, of course—from the sea.

But what made the deepest impression on me was Girona’s history. Nowhere else in my travels have I discovered so many layers of the past in a single place.

What’s more, owing to the city’s compact size and pedestrian-friendly old town, Barri Vell, it’s possible to explore Girona’s myriad layers in a short period of time—making a day trip here a delightful stand-in for time travel.

My walking-tour guide, Anna Aliu, expressed it best: “The deeper you go, the more you’ll find.”

Here’s my recipe for the perfect day in this storied place:

> Morning

(Photograph by Candace Rardon)
(Photograph by Candace Rardon)

A full day of time travel is best begun on a full stomach.

For breakfast, make your way down Carrer de les Ballesteries, a narrow street lined with narrow houses whose memorable shades of ocher, vermilion, and gold are colorfully reflected in the quietly wending Onyar River.

From sweet and savory pancakes at the cozy L’exquisit café to crepes at D’Aquí and Crêpdequè, you’ll be spoiled for choice on this boutique-lined lane. But there’s perhaps no better way to start the morning than with pa amb tomàquet—perfectly toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and topped off with a dash of salt and olive oil—so consider stopping into the Context Llibreria to sample this Catalonian classic.

After breakfast, you’ll be perfectly (Read more...)

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