Places Visited: Barcelona, Salou, Reus and Tarragona
Overall Impression: Barcelona is an architectural wonder, and I’ve become Gaudi’s newest fan. I was mesmerized by the work of this expressionist artist–but was equally captivated by Gothic architecture of the medieval period. I have always been fascinated with old buildings; staring at the doors and windows, I often wonder about the births and deaths, laughter and tears, joys and tragedies of its inhabitants, past and present… if only walls could talk!
While many travellers research the destination before a trip, I seldom do. I especially avoid photographs because I love the element of surprise!! The verdict? Barcelona does not disappoint.
With temperatures creeping towards 30 degrees, the weather was heavenly. It took 11 hrs to get to “heaven”, but I had a nonstop ticket.
The 1st day was spent doing the hop-on-hop-off tours, which I highly endorse to anyone visiting a destination for the first time. Having experienced it in San Francisco and New York, it truly is the best
way to explore all the major attractions at your own pace.
Hotel inspection day ended up lasting 12 hrs, but I didn’t mind terribly; this being my first time back in Europe after 17 yrs (it’s incredible how time flies), I was genuinely interested in seeing the different types of accommodation available to visitors. I’m used to being shuttled between properties, but since all the hotels were located downtown, we were able to stroll from hotel to hotel, which was a nice change.
Occasionally I would join the people-watchers at one of the numerous sidewalk cafes (and hoped no one would be watching me!). Las Ramblas, the main boulevard, with all its cafes, stands and street performers, is where a lot of the action is. As with anywhere in the world, the quality of the food can vary depending on the establishment, but based on my experience dining mostly at lower to mid-range restaurants, I wasn’t overly impressed.
Eventually we bid farewell to the vibrant and beautiful city of Barcelona and made our way towards the coast.
Salou is a seaside resort on the Costa Daurada about 92km from Barcelona. It’s a popular holiday destination, which appears to cater to a lower end clientele.
Next it was off to Reus (the birth place of Gaudi), which reminded me of a mini Barcelona.
Our final stop was Tarragona, where I looked forward to seeing the ancient Roman ruins. While the ruins were not as numerous or well-preserved as some others that I’ve seen, this region is still worth a visit if you like the idea of taking a break from Barcelona by taking a short, leisurely drive down the eastern coast.
Travel Tip: As in almost any bustling city, always be careful of pickpockets, who are becoming prevalent and extremely daring
I was a pleasantly surprised to discover that not all countries in Europe are expensive. I found prices to be comparable to Canada with one difference – and I’m sure many readers will be happy to hear this – beer and wine is often cheaper than water and coke. One tip I would like to share is, if it’s not on the menu, clarify the cost of your beverage of choice so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises (yes, I learned that the hard way).
Another difference – twin beds are the norm in most hotels.