I suffer from a hidden fear and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It is called “tourgroupphobia” - the fear and immense dislike of getting caught up in crowds of tour groups (particularly the ones with megaphone-wielding group leaders that get in the way of my perfect photo). Ah, summer holidays in Europe.
The remedy is simple - get out early to beat the crowds. In Spain, with its long, late-night culture, ‘early’ generally means nine or ten a.m. Love it.
Under a sky that has been impossibly blue, the historic town of Girona has been a charming mix of colour and character. With a major airport nearby and cheap flights from the UK and Europe, the summer crowds are already making their presence felt. Girona is often the first introduction visitors have to Spain and makes a memorable impression with its mixture of old and new architecture, great museums and friendly atmosphere.
It also has gelato - lots of and lots of gelato. In fact, it has the most artisan gelato shops I have EVER seen in one place. Day one of trying to resist was a dismal failure.
Girona is not, as I first thought, the city of Romeo and Juliet fame. Turns out that is Verona ..... and it’s in Italy (should have paid more attention to my Shakespeare). It is, however, a lovely romantic town to stroll around, gazing at the impossibly blue sky - and eating gelato.
With the perfect temperature and light of the day at eight p.m. at night, there is nothing more pleasant than sitting outdoors in the plazas, watching the world go by. Spain’s less-than-booming economy makes for good value dining and a good three-course lunch with drink can be still be found for about $15.
Despite the European crowds that are only going to get bigger everywhere in August, I shall be brave and face my fears.
In the words of Michael Palin:
“Once the travel bug bites there is no know antidote and i know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”.