Photo Post: Bummed Out in Besalú, Spain

Besalú, Spain
Pont de Besalú

The small Spanish village of Besalú first entered my imagination almost five years ago when a fellow language assistant went on a travel blogger retreat here and, naturally, posted glamorous photos of this charming medieval town, complete with a striking bridge and stereotypical moat!

Later, the hit TV series Game of Thrones would use Besalú as a filming location for a recent season, and while I’ve never watched the show before, it felt like the world was telling me to check out this tiny town before my time in Spain was up.

Besalú, Spain
With a portcullis and everything

So I went. After checking out of my hostel in Girona, I hopped on a bus and was quickly transported into the rolling, volcanic landscapes that define the county of Garrotxa. Besalú’s multi-arched bridge definitely lived up to all the hype—it even had two portcullises, just like in the educational books I read as a kid!

Besalú, Spain
Catalan nationalist flag

But the town itself disappointed me. It’s not like I was expecting much of Besalú (pronounced “buh-zuhl-LOO” [bəzəˈɫu]), a minor village in the Catalan countryside. Yet two of the three Romanesque churches were closed to visitors the day I visited. Guided tours to see the town’s excellently-preserved Jewish mikveh had already filled up by 10am. And a cozy vermouth bar that I had researched on TripAdvisor on the bus ride there was closed for vacation. Ugh.

Besalú, Spain
Village streetscape

Three strikes and you’re out, I guess. It pained me to do it, but I left Besalú earlier than I had planned. What was going to be a solid half day excursion turned out to be maybe an hour or so in town—and that’s okay! This little daytrip (morning-trip?) taught me that it’s okay to change your travel plans if you’re just not feeling things, that it’s okay to feel let down by a place you’ve been fantasizing about for years.

How to get there

Besalú, Spain
Fruit stand

From the town of Girona, a provincial capital 38 minutes northeast of Barcelona on the high-speed train, catch a bus operated by Teisa that leaves from the central bus station. There’s around 12 daily departures on weekdays, but only a fraction on the weekend.

Have you gone on pilgrimage to see Game of Thrones filming locations? Have you ever cut a trip short because you were disappointed? Share your experiences below in the comments thread!

Besalú, June 18th, 2015

What others are reading:

Is St. James Really Buried in Santiago de Compostela, Spain?

Mont-Saint-Michel, France: An Island Fortress in the English Channel

A Crash Course in the Galician Language