Last week, I left my latest blog at a juncture on a European road trip I was taking with my husband. I had written up to the point where we had discovered Jamon croquettes in the Moorish city of Cordoba at dinner. This week, I will discuss our journey up to the point where we discovered Jamon Croquettes in the Catalan city of Girona.
To get to Girona, a spot we decided on last minute owing to our delayed departure the previous day, we needed to drive about 9 hours with an intended stop in Valencia for lunch. My husband and I drive a lot due to living in mainland Europe, but even a 9 hour drive that would only get us half way home to Paderbron seemed like a long stint to me. Plus it meant that my visit to Valencia would not be the familiarisation trip that I had, at our very initial planning stage, prepared. I allayed my disappointment by reminding myself that Valencia would still be there for a longer visit another time where I could properly get to know the place. For now, the husband and I simply set about trying to make it there full stop. We rose early and were the first to breakfast at our hotel. Swiftly after chomping down some Serrano ham and cheese (I love continental brekkies!) we checked out and walked off in hope that our Discovery was where we left it given that we had parked in a "hanger charged" hurry. Thankfully it was still there towering over the smaller minis that native Cordobans sensibly drive down their narrow streets.
Once we had navigated out of the city with our wing mirrors in tact, we found ourselves on a deserted motorway travelling through morning mist that had not yet been burnt off by the sun. It made for an incredibly pretty vista; made even prettier by the handful of fields crammed full of sunflowers all smiling to see us. Further on down the road, the landscape turned more and more arid whilst becoming flatter and flatter. In short, I fell asleep. Whilst the scenery in this segment of our drive had a certain beauty in just how vast and far reaching it was, three odd hours of flat desert can make one's eyelids a little heavy.
However, the miles and time passed and we had made our way to the big V. I had it in my head that when in Valencia, we should lunch like Valencians so we headed to the institution that is La Pepica for a paella. This restaurant has quite the set up. Its cavernous insides open up to a beach wide enough to rival those more common near LA. The husband and I had court side seats to this beach and shared some delicious tomatoes on lightly toasted garlic bread before the main event, a Paella Mixta, arrived. Our whole meal ended up being delicious and was well worth the time it took us to find and park up.
Back in the car, my husband and I followed the coast road up to Barcelona. I admit I fell asleep again. I didn't mean to and the scenery was certainly more interesting with the Mediterranean to my right and mountains to my left. However, I had a belly full of rice, bread and wine. There was no way that I could sit in a car, that gently rocks you, for four hours without visiting the land of nod too. That being said, when I was awake, I was looking longingly at the sea. I was thoroughly enjoying our drive, my other half was loving it, but we were driving past all these wonderful places that made me long for a whole summer to be able to do this quite epic journey.
That being said, if I had been looking at a map, I'm not sure even with weeks to work with, I ever would have chosen to stop off at Girona. I would have driven straight past it from the Spanish coast to the French coast. I'm so happy we didn't. Girona was a treat from the moment we drove our car down yet more narrow streets, but luckily ones with a little more breathing room for the Discovery at least. I had booked us into a Marriott hotel that overlooked the city en route in the car. Whilst the weather had not been kind enough to us to be able to enjoy the hotel's roof top bar, it did at least stop raining for us to be able to walk around the centre. Even in grey dull light, Girona's charm shone through. The cobbled streets inside the old town's walls were full of tall balconied buildings. The buildings on the river front were colourful and famously overhang the water. It is also a town not short of stylish restaurants. We were there on a grim Wednesday night and yet most eateries were busy, albeit not packed. Artusi, the place we chose, was an elegant tapas bar. Though I was still exceptionally full, six hours after my lunch, I managed to eat enough for a small family. Though my husband was doing the ordering, I can't really blame him for the second round of Jamon Croquettes that ended up on our table.
The husband and I therefore went to bed full of food and exceptionally happy. Plus the Discovery had done yet another day's long drive and made it to Girona unhurt as did our marriage as a consequence. We only had one more full day's drive left and most of that was through France with its promise of the Pyrenees, the foothills of the Alps and wine. We planned on making it as far Colmar, with a stop off nearabouts Lyon for lunch. Come back next week to see how me, my husband and the new lady in his life get on. Or sign up to my VIP list for it to be emailed direct to your inbox!