Girona and the talisman of the Ice Age

GIrona steps 2

When you travel to Spain and visit the lovely town of Girona, you will see the statue of a lion. They say, if you kiss it, you will return to Girona. I nearly didn't kiss it. Because, you know, it's not like I have not fallen for this kind of bollocks before. Yeah, I threw coins in plenty of fountains and wells. Yeah, I rubbed the cold feet of plenty of statues. And did I ever become invisible at any point? Did I ever start to fly? Did Ewan McGregor ever come to marry me? NO! And so, my faith in all these little make-a-wish-thingies withered away.

Yet I still kissed the lion in Girona, because Loz wanted a picture of it, but afterwards, I made a lot of snide remarks. It's not that I didn't WANT to come back, because I actually did. We had only spent half a day on a tour there, which was nice and compact, but in a way just an appetizer. Not enough time to get lost in all the little streets. But I knew that kissing the lion would probably only ensure that I would get a cold sore, and not much else. And it was on that day that I realized: I had lost faith. I was disillusioned.

Vera kissing Girona lion

It was okay, though. Ewan McGregor had married someone else by then, anyway. And maybe invisibility had some really bad side effects. Not that I would know, of course. We made our way back home and I forgot all about it.

A couple of months after that trip we decided to participate in a travel blogging conference. We signed up, only to find out that it would be in Girona. This revelation initiated a mighty cough attack on my behalf, since instantly it became clear to me: I had mocked the lion, and it would not let it slip. I took it well, though. There are bigger things than me out there, and I am not talking about elephants.

But I felt that this was not over. I was being tested. And damn right would I pass that test. I switched my radar on to recognize the next challenge. It came soon.

We were contemplating how to get to Girona. By train? With our (at this point not really yet converted) van? Fly down and rent a car from Girona airport? Walk the Camino de Santiago trail? But the Girona lion took care of it: arguscarhire.com contacted us entirely out of the blue and provided us with a rental car.  A development which very obviously had lion written all over it. I mentally prepared myself.

We went to pick up the car. It was a Chevrolet Aveo. Neat. Now we all know, a car is not just a car. It's the modern variant of horses. It's your trusted steel steed. It needs a name, otherwise it's all going to go wrong. This one was easy: Schnevy. Elaborate, elegant and eloquent. Chew on THAT, lion.

Then came the biggest challenge. I knew this wasn't going to be easy:

What would be the talisman we were going to take with us on our road trip?

You might think this is a ridiculous question, but let me tell you a little story:

When I left Germany to go work & travel in Australia, I carried about a dozen talismans with me. From a metal key ring angel which weighed close to a solid kilogram, to Lemmy the lemon, to a medallion with a picture of my cat, to a blanket and a flattened piece of metal saying "Safe journeys". Everyone wants you to take something along that reminds you of them and protects you on your travels. I guess the protection results from the fact that your backpack is then too heavy to move around with it much.

Scrat and Lemmy

But when it came to picking a talisman for the rental car my friend, who was there for three weeks, and I had hired, I made a mistake. A mistake that in hindsight was completely unnecessary.

At that time, they were promoting one of the "Ice age" movies in the supermarkets, and I could not bring myself to walk past the toy model of Scrat, who in the movie is a little saber-toothed squirrel that is obsessed with an acorn and has a habit of breaking things.

Bedazzled by his cuteness, I made him the official talisman for our car - which I bitterly regretted when a stone thrown up by a passing car on a dirt road destroyed our wind-screen. A wind-screen that was not covered by the insurance we had, it turned out.

Scrat Windscreen

So I learned the hard way that if you choose a talisman which stands for a personality that breaks things, it WILL affect your car's Feng Shui. That's right, I'm not afraid to use the big words.

I'm sure you have understood how careful you have to be with all this stuff that you probably didn't even take seriously until now. Oh, I was once like you, too, don't get me wrong. But that sweet innocence died when we got the bill for the bloody wind-screen.

So I was really nervous about the talisman choice for Schnevy. I knew I was in the middle of a power struggle with the Girona lion, and I had to make a point and show that I could handle this task.

Suddenly it hit me and everything became very clear: I needed to make a move the lion did not expect. Something new, outrageous, yet simple and clever.

I would not take any talisman at all. BAM.

And that's what I did. We drove to Girona, determined and cold-blooded. At the beginning my hands were shaking a bit, but after a couple of hours, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. All went well. When we arrived in Girona that day, I knew I had completed the lion's challenge.

Driving collage

We had a good time in Girona. It was nice to be back. I didn't kiss the lion again. I knew I didn't need to. But when I passed it on my way downtown, I winked at it, confidentially, and you may believe me or you may not, but I swear by Scrat's acorn: it winked right back.

So, folks, don't give up hope if you haven't won the lottery yet although you ALWAYS throw coins in any well in sight (you do know that you need to buy a lottery ticket, too, right? Just saying.) - it may just not be your time yet, but it will come. And if you too have chosen a really counterproductive talisman in the past, you can tell me about in the comments. I won't judge. All the best to all of you, and thanks for reading!




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