Saturday, 3 September 2016

Tarragona: The Season of Giving - Que Syrah Syrah!

Tarragona, Spain (Tarragona, España)
December 2015
Emerging from an underground carpark that we estimated to be close to the old town, we were quickly struck by the character in the steep and narrow streets of Tarragona. 
Some were so steep that steps had been installed for pedestrians, who strolled past buildings plastered in bright shades of orange and yellow.

Before long we came across the steps leading to the cathedral, where I attempted to fill my teacup with a sip of water from an old bronze tap, but none came.

The cathedral perfectly embodies the main historical influences in Spain: the site was first a Roman temple under the rule of Tiberius, then a Visigoth church, then a Moorish mosque before finally becoming the Catholic cathedral that stands today. It makes one wonder what might come next, if at all. The statues along the outside had slightly larger heads than what would be deemed normal - a "sniper's dream" to quote a line from the popular UK panel show Would I Lie To You.

Cleverly, builders had used giant safety pins to hold together a temporary wall surrounding a construction site. That's ingenuity right there!

The city felt like it held so much history, which could be seen in the medieval archways along some of the roads. Roman remains can still be seen in the city too, and along our walk we stopped to take a look at the Roman circus and the old Roman walls. As it was a Monday, both were closed to the public (this is sad as one of Yannick's favourite pastimes is walking atop city walls).

The amphitheatre was also closed, but we were able to get a good look at it from the park just above it on the hill. It was also a lovely spot for sea views as the sun set. Good place for a gladiatorial fight!

The sunset cast the buildings in a beautiful light, making them pop against the bright blue sky. 

The park itself was a pleasant place for a stroll, as different plants had been placed with plaques providing information on what they were used for in Roman times (as is still the case today, apricot trees and rosemary were popular). There was also some very cool Japan-themed graffiti to be seen as we were leaving. 

Our next stop was the Roman forum, which turned out to be further away than we had anticipated, and we ended up in the wide streets of the new town. Our nostrils rejoiced, for in contrast to the last week spent in Valencia, there was a relative lack of sewerage smell! The forum was heavily fenced and as it was (duh) closed, we weren't able to see much of it at all. Instead, we enjoyed the ambiance of Tarragona with its Christmas lighting and apartment buildings lining the streets. Just in case we had forgotten that we were in Spain, Tarragona decided to remind us by throwing us behind a Spanish family with three prams and eight grandparents. This traffic jam on legs moved very slowly, stopping frequently to have intense discussions with hand gestures and take photos of their skateboarding grandchildren.

Having navigated past the pedestrian equivalent of a lava ooze, we came across an ice skating rink and then a very wide cobblestoned pedestrian street. This one was wide enough to get around large Spanish families, even ones with eight grandparents and several skateboarders. 
Overall we really liked Tarragona and decided that we should return one day to take in the city for a while and visit the Roman sites when they were open. Driving to our hotel, which was on the outskirts, we unloaded supplies from our car under the watchful gaze of a small cat.
As we were nearing the end of our roadtrip, we knew that we would have to do something with all of our camping equipment. In the morning as we were about to set off, we asked the lady at reception (who was also the owner) if she wanted any of our stuff. Thrilled, she and her daughter accepted our tent, our portable stove and a few other bits and bobs. As thanks, she gave us a bottle of Syrah which had been made on their own vineyard! As we had been chatting to her, she knew that we would soon be crossing back over into France and she proclaimed that her wine was better than French reds. I was intrigued and thought "We had better test that out!"

Today's post was almost called: Cultural Congestion and Tehcup Rejection