We flew to Reus from Liverpool, and it was a mellow, pleasant experience, as usual. With far fewer flights than stressed out, busy Manchester it’s a great option. When looking for holidays nowadays, ‘can we fly from Liverpool’ is a key question that influences our choice. Queues are rare and there are sufficient bars and food outlets while you await your flight. Just don’t eat at ‘The Kissing Gate’! (click link for TripAdvisor reviews)
Reus airport was equally relaxing and our luggage beat us through customs. We were sat in our air-conditioned transfer taxi in less than fifteen minutes. After a short drive, we were checking in at Hotel Imperial Tarraco with a complimentary glass of cava in hand. It’s only a little gesture, but it’s a great welcome for the punters.
We paid around £130 a night for a room with a sea view and they gave us breakfast for free as we booked directly on their website. Very nice hotel, great location, lovely room (see video link below for walk-thru), all in all, very classy. But the breakfasts were a bit iffy as the hot food section was all cold, and the coffee was grim. Heigh ho. There was a large pool with sunbathing area downstairs, a roof-top pool, with bar, restaurant and more sunbeds; but we’re beach types. Oh, and there was a gym, apparently.
Tarragona is Spanish city with a modern centre, and a mediaeval old town which actually dates back to Roman times when ‘Tarraco’ was the capital of Spain. There’s a lot of history to see here, including Roman ruins. There’s a smashing 12th century cathedral built on the site of a Roman Temple dating back to the Emperor Tiberius. Tarragona is not a typical tourist destination like, say, nearby Salou is. There are very few British visitors and the language you will hear spoken around you will be Catalan Spanish. It sounds different from Castillian Spanish and it has a French twang to it.
We were there for a week of lazy indolence, to top up the suntan, mooch around, do some leisurely eating and drinking; we had few plans. In the event we were lucky in that our visit coincided with the celebrations for the feast of Saint Joan. Tarragona was buzzing. Furthermore, joy of joys, in the plazas, squares and side streets of the old town you can drink and dine alfresco, with no piped music. Blissful.
I’ll mention a couple of restaurants we ate in. Obviously, this isn’t a fair review of what’s on offer in the town, but these were super and we went twice to each.
Firstly, though not in any order, Aboccaperta is a little pizza place in a quiet little plaza in the old town. Great pizzas, good wines and beers and very reasonably priced. Less than €50 for two well lubricated meals (two pizzas, two beers, four glasses of wine. The pizza bases were outstanding; light, chewy and crispy, high-quality ingredients all round.
Secondly, in Placa Forum is a smashing Spanish restaurant called Tarakon. You’ll get a table early in the evening but it might be wise to book beyond 8.00pm. We had tapas here. It was all superb, but the black pudding deserves a mention. And the Catalonian garlic toast. And the chicken wings. And the cold meats. And the olives. You get the picture. Six tapas and six drinks for €45.
There are a few beaches around but, unfortunately, the two we visited didn’t have sunbeds. As far as I know, none in the locale have beds to hire at the moment. I don’t know why, as they have in the past, apparently. This rather limits a visit to the beach, as the sun is pretty intense in the afternoon. It’s not comfy reading a book whilst lay on a towel. A shame because they were both very nice beaches. Playa el Miracle is the ‘town beach’ situated in front of the amphitheatre and backed by the railway line (so not too picturesque). Platja Arrabassada is just round the headland from the old town (about a 20-minute walk) and perfect, but for the lack of sunbeds.
One evening, walking back from an evening’s grazing, we stumbled across a large group of people gathered around a large hall. We nipped in to see what was going on. It turned out that they were teams of people practising for the ‘castelling’, which was the highlight of the Feast of Saint Joan (I think) festivities. They let us in to watch the practise and we got a real close-up view from a balcony inside the building. I could have reached out, tickled one and dropped the tower. I didn’t.
Basically, a castell is a human tower. Potentially dangerous, but a damn fine excuse for a party. There’s little to be gained by me explaining this further. The video makes it clear what goes on. Watching it live is a ‘heart in your mouth’ experience. Brilliant.
On our penultimate day we caught the train to Barcelona. We had visited the Sagrada Familia 25 years earlier, and it wasn’t open to the public back then and we wanted to see how it had changed. In fact, after a 25-year gap, the Sagrada Familia was the Sagrada un-Familia; geddit? I don’t have to work at it, the comedy just comes naturally. All I can say about this stunning Church is you must go and see it. No photographs do it justice. I think it’s the finest building in the world, though I ain’t seen ’em all. Book tickets online, €26 a head, you can download the app and do it on your phone, or book online here.
It was a cracking afternoon out and we headed back to Tarragona for the evening’s festival. The only strange thing to report is that there was an advert on the Renfe train which stated, “Call this number if someone masturbates in front of you.” I don’t know how frequently this occurs, but it seemed to warrant signage. It doesn’t seem to be a problem on UK trains, or it’s not against the rules. One or the other.
Should you go to Tarragona?
I guess my blog makes it clear that we had a fine time. I don’t think we’d stay posh next time. We barely used the pool and we could have had somewhere very nice for half the money. The only (1st world) ‘problem’ was the lack of sunbeds on the beaches. Maybe this is a post-covid problem. If you stayed Air BnB near the beach, maybe they’d have beds and brollies to borrow.