Archive for May, 2009

Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

I recently spent a few days in a beautiful little city on the east coast of Spain, just south of Barcelona called Tarragona. I have to be honest before arriving there I had never heard of it and thought I would just be traveling through, but as fate would have it I ended up spending a few days and having the opportunity to see what the city had to offer.

Turns out, quite a lot.

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I guess one of the things I should lay out from the start is that I am not trying to compare Tarragona with Milan, Paris, Tokyo or another metropolitan city, but what I am saying is that if you and your significant other or even just a friend want to try a city break and go somewhere that easily has enough to keep you interested for 72 hours or so, then it’s worth putting up for consideration. If you are from outside of Europe and are visiting the continent and have a couple of days spare, see if you can work it into your schedule.

If you are from the UK or Ireland I know from being at the airport that Ryanair where ferrying the Irish and British to the local airport.

The 2 things with that are;

  1. You are willing to run the gauntlet of chance that is Ryanairs customer service
  2.  You can handle a short plane trip with some semi drunk hen/stag nighters who are on there way to the more commercial Salou further down the coast.

So what is it that created this need to blog about Tarragona? Well I’ll be honest the weather played a key part, the few days I spent there were glorious and the beaches were lined with bodies bronzing in the sun. As with any destination it plays a key role, but I’m happy to say on this occasion it came up trumps.

The clear skied and warm evenings became the perfect setting to sit at one of the many tapas bars and try the local fare, accompanied with locals(ish) beers and sangria that didn’t cost the earth. Many little squares in the city, some which could only be found by following the historic narrow backstreets were awash with people enjoying the temperate climate.

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The city’s coastal position means that seafood is well represented on the tapas menus, as is the local hams which the locals seem very proud of, along with plenty of traditional cuisine. Hours and euros could be spent on the menus trying the selections from bar to bar but where the tapas is the warm up the restaurants and the main courses are the next move on the city’s social circuit.

Paella is the obvious choice, and what I tried didn’t let me down, and as with the tapas the city’s location ensure that there are many restaurants whose selection of seafood prepared in a variety of ways makes selection a problem, but it’s a good problem to have.

Through the days, whilst giving my belly a rest I enjoyed the opportunity to stroll round the old city and just take it in. The cathedral, built in the 12 century seemed old, until you see the amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century it makes the cathedral seem like a contemporary piece of architecture by comparison. The amphitheatre itself sits not far from the beach and has the Mediterranean Sea as its back drop, even now in its reduced state its not difficult to imagine gladiators going at it Russell Crow style.

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The main strip of the city is the Rambla Nova, which serves as the hub of the city, while I was there a market took place on the central pedestrian area and walking from the west end down to the coastal cliffs overlooking the beach, you get the opportunity to scout out some of the restaurants and bars along with the shops on offer. The Rambla Nova is also home to a statue of castells – or human castles – a kind of sport in this part of the world that can compromise of up to nine storeys of precariously balancing people one on top of the other. Seems a bit mental to me, but whatever floats your boat.

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If the Roman and gothic architecture and good food get too much for you then just down the road is Port Aventura, a Universal Studios backed theme park where you can spend the day. I didn’t go so cant offer much on it other than to say that its there. Perhaps built with the idea that some traveling groups will need a barter tool when justifying a visit to another of the city’s UNESCO world heritage sites. Another couple of days and I would have gone, for the water park if nothing else,  like a say the weather was beautiful.

All in all a cracking piece of Spain that to my eyes seems largely unspoilt by mass tourism, go now, before everyone else does.

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I hate mosquitoes

It turns out I seem to be allergic to mosquito bites. 

Where for most people there main issue is the itchy wee mark that they leave behind, I seem to have the issue of a large dose of swelling to accompany the itch.  My right hand currently looks like it belongs to the elephant man.

It sucks

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Luckily just after the bite I was near by a pharmacy as the the pain and itch seemed to spread up my arm to my elbow, then my shoulder.  I nipped in and bought some antihistamines, which although they stopped the pain have down nowt for the swelling. 

 I am currently self medicating, time will tell if it does any good.

Coffee, java, cup o’Joe, whatever you call it I need it

My name is thoughherder and I’ve been coffee free for 9 days.

There I put it out there.  But I’ll be honest I don’t like having to do it.

At New Years this year I decided that rather than think of something I was going to give up as a new years resolution I would come up with a selection of goals in various aspects of my life to aim for.  Kind of a what I can gain rather than give up idea, although it does involve giving stuff up its for select periods of time not life altering bans. Who likes a ban?

Travel, financial, education, health, fitness, social & random are the categories I chose and each task falls within one, it’s pretty easy when a category is entitled random to fit stuff in.  I decided that as part of it I would go 30 without drinking booze (health), the follow on from that was to think of other stuff I could give up for 30 days at a time and I decided on coffee.  Bad move. 

I have come to realize that I am too close to coffee and it all that is good about it. Some may argue that  this may be reason to move away from it and force some kind of abstinence but realistically I am never going to manage 30 days.  As I don’t drink bucket loads of the stuff, it’s not unhealthy so I am scratching that one out to being a really bad idea. 

Now pass the milk.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday will start to lose meaning of I don’t start blogging again through the rest of the week but I’m crazy busy/or can’t get online at the moment.

That said here is my second wordless Wednesday;

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Taken last week here is the La Sagrada Familia.  A massive, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Spain since 1882.  Looks like its melting to me, or perhaps a twisted take on Mickey’s Castle.  Either way its still an amazing piece of architecture. 

(So I’m not taking undue credit as I’m actually in this one and therefore didn’t take it)

Wordless Wednesday

An idea I saw on another blog, where abouts exactly I can’t remember, but I’ll let pictures do the talking on Wednesday.DSC_1701

This is a husky I met in Quebec Dec 2008, I found the eyes on him just amazing.

On the road again

So I’m currently in Barcelona which is good, I have a few days spare, which is better, but I am so full of cold that I think I’m going to hold up in my hotel room till I’m actually required to do anything of purpose. 

Seems a waste with the city just there but I would rather think that I have been and didn’t get the chance to see the city than I forced myself to wander round feeling like crap and then resent it. 

I did get the chance to go around the city last night when I was just at the ‘bit of a cold’ stage rather than today’s ‘arrrgh my head.  I feel hot. No cold.  No wait hot again’.   One thing that Barcelona has that I don’t miss is smoking in the bars.  Not preaching as last night it didn’t really bother me but the damp smokey smell you get from you hair in the shower the next morning (when you don’t feel well even more so) sucks. 

Worth a shout out is the sweetest old lady in the world ever who I sat beside on one of my flights who gave me a penny she found for good luck on my travels.  She was in her 90’s heading home to Michigan and just really friendly and intersted in chatting to the random punter she was stuck on a plane beside.  Me. 

Not woth a shout was the dutch guy I sat beside on my next flight. I cant even bring myself to type about that just now.  Lets just say in a competeion of “who sat beside the worst guy ever on a flight” I have a beauty of an entry.

Movie page

In a blatant rip off of an idea I spotted on Gibbering giraffe’s blog http://gibberinggiraffe.wordpress.com I thought I would add a page with the list of movies I watch this year. 

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I like to put up a blog post about a movies sometimes (but not always) and figure that if someone is going to read my opinion who doesn’t know me then they can check out what else I have been watching.  I was going to do it with books too but at the moment I don’t read enough actually literature and as such the list would be embarrassingly short come January 2010. 

If anyone has any recommendations, fire away!!