The Bells of Girona


Girona Cathedral is even closer than it seems in photos. It’s unapologetically in our faces. So, the question we get asked is, “Are the bells going to make you crazzzy!” 

First, you have to know a little more about these bells. At quarter past a small bell clangs once, at half-past twice, and at quarter to there are three clangs. Once the minute hand hits twelve there are four clangs followed by the sonorous voices of the big bells counting the hour. The bells have no curfew.

On Saturday at 5:30 PM there was a joyous, but tuneless, demonstration of the entire arsenal of bells. It lasted ten minutes. On Sunday morning at 10 AM and again at 10:30 there were similar displays. They were designed to wake the dead and get them to church on time. If not the dead, then surely the seriously hungover. Moderation in all things…except bells!

This is not to mention the hordes of people who gather to take photos of themselves on the steps of the church, or the tourist train that loads and unloads beneath our front window. The mind is an amazing thing though. Donna slept through Saturday’s ten minute display and two circuits of the train without stirring.

The 5:30 bells roused me from my siesta…bolt upright. This was a role reversal. Once I decide to go to sleep I am a committed sleeper. Donna??? Even dreams wake her up. She was the only one of us who was awake for Friday’s midnight, two, and four o’clock ringing of the bells. Which might explain the depth of her slumber on Saturday afternoon.

All of this might sound like a long complaint, but we love it here. The people watching is endlessly amusing. We are steps away from world class restaurants, and surrounded by history and beauty. There is also the promised thinning of the mid-week crowds once school starts. Neither one of us is betting on that.

As for the bells? There’s a lesson from my 40 years in education that applies. “Rigorous consistency puts people to sleep. Give them predictability, but leave things wonderously open if you expect them to learn anything.”  

We are learning. We are happy. We are getting the required amount of sleep! I only wish that ridiculous tourist train didn’t stop here!



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