Sunday, November 29, 2009


Best All-Saints Day Ever.
Really, do you remember any November 1st's in your life? Unless it's your birthday, probably not. However, the Fall Break crew (Tom, Zack, Isabelle, Dani & myself) spent our All-Saints Day (our last day of fall break) in Barcelona and Girona. Partly because I don't remember any other November 1st's, but mostly because we were in Barca and Girona, this was the best All Saints Day ever.

We were never initially planning on visiting Girona (above), but because Ryanair often flies to smaller airports near major destinations, we flew in and out of Girona, about 100 km southwest of Barcelona. Girona is situated in the beautiful Costa Brava ("rugged coast") a region with high cliffs, lovely beaches and blue water.

Considered one of the loveliest unsung cities in Spain, I found the winding alleys and streets of Girona, home to approximately 95,000 inhabitants, very charming. Divided by a river (like most cool European cities), the medieval city center is surrounded by a modern periphery. It also has a very interesting history, as the city was constantly switching hands - Girona has been ruled by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and more. It has a well preserved Jewish ghetto, dating to the times before Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 by the Catholic kings. Other attractions are old Arabic baths, a few towering churches (right) and quirky shops and boutiques lining the city center.

However, the highlight of Girona for me? The All Saints Day carnival. Spain is a very Catholic country, so it's only fitting that they would have a big celebration on All Saints Day. Girona's main streets were clogged with food vendors selling meats, cheeses, pastries, candy, different national cuisines - pretty much anything you could think of. Artists were selling their creations, teenagers and kids milled about and the city felt very alive. The best part? There was a carnival packed with games and rides. The whole experience can be summed up, for my Iowa friends, as a mix between Adventureland and the Iowa State Fair (for those who don't know these places, please do yourself a favor and go some time).

It was kind of like the carnival scene from The Sandlot. We got all sugared up on a bunch of candy and junk food, whooped and hollered, strolled the bright walkways, rode a ride fittingly called "EXTREME" (left) and played a few games - winning our new friend Danye (like Kanye with a D) the dominatrix camel (right) in the process.
Zack put it best when he said, "This carnival just kicks the sh*t out of every fair I've ever known".

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