We woke up to another beautifully sunny day in Valencia and another sticky croissant and coffee in the hotel. We hadn't had an evening meal last night because we had been so full after our three-course lunch, with the result that we felt this morning that a solitary croissant just wasn't going to cut it. We checked out of the hotel and had a quick stop off at McDonalds on the way to the station for a second breakfast!
The station we were heading for wasn't the pretty Estació del Nord which we had seen the other day, but a more modern station called Joaquín Sorolla which is about 700m behind the Estació del Nord. This where the high speed trains to Madrid and Barcelona depart from. It was nowhere near as pretty as the other station, looking more like a shed than anything else, but it was quite unusual inside with everyone having to pass their luggage through an airport-style security scanner before being allowed onto the platform to catch the train.
We had pre-booked our tickets online a few weeks ago to get a better price, which was also good as it meant we had a reserved seat. The train turned out to be quite posh inside, with plenty of legroom and a screen telling us what speed we were travelling at, and we had a pleasant journey towards Tarragona, at times with mountains on one side of the train and the coast on the other.
It was about 1.30 when we arrived in Tarragona, which turned out to be built on a hill. The main way from the station to the town centre appeared to be via some relentlessly steep staircases, which we didn't really fancy with our luggage, so we crossed the road from the station to consult a map and find an alternative route. Can you spot what the first thing we saw was when we looked at the map?!
Yes, that's right - there is a street named Doctor Zamenhof in Tarragona!!
We needed to have lunch before the restaurants stopped serving and we soon found a pleasant little place which was advertising its menu of the day for €9. We had a first course of penne carbonara, a second course of hamburger and chips and tiramisu for dessert. Don't think we'll be needing any dinner tonight either! We also enjoyed a bottle of the local wine, but when we came to pay at the end we found that our bill was only €20. It seemed like the waiter had missed off the wine, charging us for two menus of the day at €9 each plus €2 for a beer Tim had had. When Tim tried to explain that we needed to pay for the wine, he shook his head and said that a drink was included in the price of the meal!
After what may be this holiday's best-value lunch, we set off uphill again to find our hotel. This is another aparthotel, situated on Rambla Nova, which is the main street in Tarragona. By complete coincidence, it turned out to be exactly the same hotel that Tim had stayed in when he visited Tarragona last autumn!
We checked into our room, enjoyed the air-conditioning for a bit, then headed out for a stroll around Tarragona.
There were various monuments, of varying degrees of unusualness(!), in the central part of Rambla Nova.
We decided to try and track down the Zamenhof street for a photo opportunity, but were slightly hindered by not having a town plan of Tarragona. As we were wandering around in what we hoped was the correct general direction of the street, we came across our first Roman remains. They weren't the most impressive remains we've ever seen - in fact it was a bit difficult to work out what they were - but a helpful info board explained that there used to be a Roman theatre on the site.
Just around the corner, we finally found Zamenhof street
It wasn't quite as long as the Zamenhof Street in Valencia, and weirdly they had spelled Zamenhof with a double f on some of the signs.
Mission accomplished, we began walking back towards Rambla Nova. On the way we came across the old Roman forum.
These ruins seemed a bit more impressive
We walked to the opposite end of Rambla Nova.
There's an amazing viewpoint here out over the sea.
It was still unbelievably sunny, even though it was around 7pm!
Tarragona seems like an interesting place. Tomorrow we're looking forward to exploring more of the old town and Roman ruins