One of my three visits outside of Barcelona included a trip to Girona, in the northern part of Spain’s Catalan region. I had an interview planned with a former mayor of the city, MP, and minister.

After arriving in Girona on a comfortable ride on Spain’s renfe train system, I could tell that the political situation in this northern city was critical. Walking through the city on our way to the center, my friend and I noticed nearly entire apartment buildings with secessionist flags hanging from balconies. In one store front, I was surprised to see secessionist themed cooking attire on sale. The center of Girona is known for its ancient fortifications and Jewish quarter. Today, however, it gave the appearance of a city in silent revolution.

My interview in Girona in a small cafe in front of the town hall, offered me a new perspective on the situation. The former politician explained to me that he had for long been, as most Catalan socialists are, a believer in Catalonia as a part of Spain but with significant autonomy or even a federalization of Spain’s autonomous system of governance. Today, the former minister is a supporter of independence. This came about as a result of the 2010 ruling of the Spanish constitutional court which, in his view, severely hurt Catalonia’s autonomy. He added that the economic crisis has acted to increase and deepen secessionist sentiment. Our interview in Girona allowed me to speak to a newcomer to the movement and visit a provincial city of Catalonia, where the secessionist sentiment is even more exposed than it is in Barcelona. I left Girona after a full day, tired, but also impressed by what I saw.