Tarragona, a Spanish town on the Mediterranean sea, dates back to several thousands years BC. Its continuous history definitely dates back to the Romans. There are many Roman remains in and around the city; any guide will proudly tell you that these are “the right” and the best Roman ruins in Europe. The cathedral, built in the 12-13th centuries, was not finished due to lack of funds. The citizens decided to leave it as it is, so it still lacks one customary turret. It stands high above the city, with the wide stairway leading up to the square where one can take pictures and buy souvenirs. It seems quite a steep climb, but we have seen brides gather up their wide long skirts and skip up on their high heels, veils floating in the wind, holding tight to their grooms’ hands, with families and friends following energetically. There is an old university, and one can see lots of students and teachers busily running to and from various departments scattered around the city. There is also a huge Congress Hall, where various international events are held. Tarragona is an important port, one can see ships in the harbor, and crews in town. The climate is heavenly, so there are plenty of people who come here to relax and have a good vacation. As a result, there are always lots of visitors speaking a multitude of languages at any time of the year. English is used universally.
As in most mountainous regions, the town is part of the scenery. Its streets go up and down, and the locals run along briskly, regardless of age. They are all incredibly fit. One of the old customs is building the Human Pyramid during a holiday, when many young people gather together, form a circle, then the new arrivals climb higher and higher up on the successive circle’s backs and shoulders. There is a monument to this event right in the city center.
We arrived after midnight and walked from the bus terminal to the hotel, which we chose because it said, “Only 50 m to the sea!” In the morning, after I looked around from our balcony, I went downstairs and asked, “Mare?” Si, signora, the receptionist smiled, waving to our left. We walked. Indeed, 50 m, and we came to the high terrace overlooking the sea down below! We could see some joggers skipping up and down the sheer sloping stairway. Not feeling like a mountain goat, I preferred to walk around. It turned out to be quite a trek, but we found the lovely sand beach with an endless view of the sea. All the beaches in Spain are free. We were lucky not to arrive when a herd of sharks swam right up to the beach. True, as the scientists said, they were black sharks, “only” about one meter long, not man-eating kind. But when we saw the news on TV, recognized the same beach where we relaxed a few days ago, we were very glad not to be there now! I would not like to swim among any sharks
In the morning, the streets seemed quite deserted, but going back, we saw a different sight. Lots of cafes and restaurants opened up along the same narrow streets. Next morning, we woke up to some merry activities down below, looked outside, and gasped: the whole boulevard was filled with colorful stalls. It was the weekly street fair, a feast for the eyes, and a nice place to rummage around happily. All the stores are situated on the same street, so one can enjoy some serious shopping too. A holiday is an occasion for grandiose fireworks, which can be observed from the same high terrace above the sea. The ancient ruins are part of the town, as well as the medieval buildings, and the modern new structures. If there are some ongoing renovations, a building may be camouflaged by inventive pictures of the bygone eras. It took us a moment to realize that what we saw on one wall was not real.