As I said before, serendipity plays a large role in trip planning. When Barry and I were preparing for our third trip to Spain (have I mentioned we love Spain?), we watched an episode of House Hunters International for inspiration. As it happened, we were trying to decide where to go after Barcelona but before flying over to the Balearic Islands. The episode we watched that night took place in a region called Tarragona, and after being wowed by the rustic architecture and beautiful natural landscape filled with almond and citrus trees, we decided to take the plunge and make a visit. There wasn’t much to be found in the way of tourist information about the actual city of Tarragona, at least stateside. The best we found in guidebooks merely mentioned the city’s name and the region’s location on a map. However, we went with our gut instinct and really lucked out – it was (and still is) love at first sight. And it’s less than an hour away from Barcelona by train.
Hotel: Hostal Noria, located in Placa de la Font, is a great find. Some rooms have balconies overlooking the placa, which is THE place for tapas hopping and other nightlife in the area. Tip: try to have a word or two of Catalan down by the time you arrive … your hostess will really appreciate it. I’m pretty sure it scored us the best view in the house. Email for availability at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restaurant: La Nova Taverna, located about midway through Placa de la Font. While there are lots of decent eateries lining the square, this was our hands-down favorite. Best patatas bravas ever! Check them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lanovataverna?ref=ts&fref=ts. Ask for Roma, the Russian server. He’s fantastic, and will take great care of you. TIP: Arrive early but prepare to stay late – the people watching in Tarragona can’t be beat.
Attraction: You can’t leave without visiting the Pont de les Ferreres or “Devil’s Bridge” Aqueduct, though they’re not exactly ideally located. You’ll need to grab a bus from the city’s Rambla Nova (its main street). Definitely stop by the Tourist Information booth, also on Rambla Nova, for up-to-date bus information. NOTE: It’s a strange bus stop because it drops you basically on the side of an interstate, but it’s actually right next to the park entrance.
You don’t have to take our word for it, though … check out this New York Times article about Tarragona: http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/06/05/travel/in-tarragona-roman-ruins-an-hour-from-barcelona.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.