Having spent 4 days in this really lovely place I compare it to a mini Barcelona and it is only 1 hour south (by train) of the big city but a lot more peaceful and less stressful than a full cityscape.
The fact that tourism “en masse” does not seem to have hit this place yet makes it a blessing in disguise. You can tell this from the fact that the staffs in shops, cafes and places of interest are all polite to you. They have not yet been hit by the hordes of tourist who insist on NOT trying to speak any Spanish (even though this is a Spanish country) and thus pissing off the locals!
Granted here they do already speak two Spanish languages (a bit like India with its multi-linguistics eh?) they talk Catalan and Spanish
My house host (Airbnb) advised me that the Taracco’s (original name for the place) consider themselves Roman rather than Spanish. The ones that do associate with Spain prefer to be called Catalonians rather than Spanish and judging by the number of Castellan flags I saw hanging from balconies independence is rife here.
In fact they speak Catalan first and Spanish second (however at the train station they do go for English as a third choice when making announcements thank god!)
My first day there I walked the streets to get a feel and took pictures to see what I could/should see.. I discovered no Gaudi art or architecture there but there are lots of roman ruins and fascinating vistas. Many of them were really quite surreal – so where was Salvador? Well I only encountered him in Barcelona (along with Gaudi and Picasso)
The whole place actually feels like you are in a time-warp – a wonderful one though – as it has a great feel to the place. You can walk up the Rambla Nova to the cliff edge and then around to the Roman Amphitheatre ruin which fascinated me.
Opposite from this amazing old ruin is the Miracle beach. However, it is a miracle if you can find your way to it as the railway line splits the road and there are only two crossings (approximately 2 km apart!!)
Mind you this beach has nothing to do with religious Miracles actually as it is a bad translation from Latin to Catalan of “miraculum” which means admirable or wonderful!
Nevertheless I did managed to go there and even though my little feet (well big buggers really) were tired it was worth the stroll. I liked the fact that the old part of town was seawards too.
Another beach north of the town and 15 minutes (or 45-50 minutes by the coastal scenic route) was set in a lovely cove and called Platja de L’Arrabassada. It hais a deep stretch of beach and warm seas. Three or four cafes situated on the beach offer shade and cool drinks and it is a great place to troll out. However, as with most of the beaches in this part of Spain there are NO sunbeds or umbrellas so take your own or burn baby burn!!! An hour in direct sun is enough for me any day.
While I was in Tarragona I also had my first experience of eating Bocarones (sardines) again! When I lived in Spain in the 80’s I tried them and decided that I hated them so would never order again as I am not a “fish with small bones” eater.
However, I had ordered Chiperones (small squid which I love!) and by mistake the waitress brought me small plate of bocarrones. So I ate them and was pleasantly surprised to enjoy them.
So never too old to change your mind or admit a mistake eh??? I will not ever be accused of being a “grumpy old woman” I trust as am always happy to change my mind when I am shown the light!
And on that point to light (or rather starlight) with regards to beers – in this part of the world Estrella (STAR) is king apparently. Although there is a local brew called Rosita (ROSE) but not sure it tastes much different from anything else and it is certainly no cheaper so….?
Please do note that on Mondays in Tarragona most of the sites are closed.
To my point of view this is sensible as I like to have Sunday & Monday off when I am working. So therefore you just need to pick carefully where you are going. I chose the Amphitheatre, the Tower (Pretoria) and the Cathedral which are all enough for one day.
At lunch time I hit a nice taverna where I sat inside to listen to the music. Here I heard Paco de Lucia – an amazing guitar picker. Sadly he had died in Feb 2014 before I got the chance to hear him live (he was amazing on the disc!) and he had played with many famous musicians (including Clapton) and was totally amazing to listen to.
It was interesting to find that in one restaurant I ate during my sya (in the main square area) when I had “menu del Dia” the same menu was also on offer the following evening ( a really good & tasty selection by the way) but for 2 Euros more.! So if you want to eat cheaply – eat at lunchtime was this lesson.
I had a fantastic final night there when I was able to see the Castelle building where people take their lives (heels and legs anyway) into each others to stand as tall as possible. Very dangerous sport and gotta to be seen to be truly appreciated. If you want to see the astounding video please email me.
So in conclusion of my stay there, I must tell you that there are many lovely things to relate to you regarding Tarragona. but you need to go there to really know what I feel. Do email and ask me when you want specific information.
If you are a true traveller and lover of life then I would recommend a visit before the big boys are allowed to get their grip into it and make it TOO touristy. I will go back there given the chance.