Off the Beaten Track

You may be surprised by what you find when you deviate from the tried and true tourist trail.

This past weekend was the first four day weekend of the summer, and traveling to Barcelona, Spain was the plan. Barcelona was very busy this past weekend, and my friend, Izzi, and I couldn’t find a room in Barcelona for the first night. Instead we decided to take an additional train to Tarragona, which is about an hour train ride from Barcelona.

Tarragona is known for the Roman ruins of Tarraco that can be found there.

As Izzi and I walked to our hostel, we didn’t have high expectations for our day in Tarragona. It was a small town compared to Barcelona, and it was a holiday so most shops were closed.

The first thing that we wanted to do after traveling for 19 hours was head to the beach. After a quick 20 minute walk we reached the beach and we were in for a surprise. The beach wasn’t crowded at all, and it lacked shops, peddlers, and a lot of other tourists.

This was a completely different experience compared to the beaches that awaited us in Barcelona.

We sat out at the beach for a couple hours listening to the waves without interruptions.

While it was a holiday, there were still restaurants open for the evening. Izzi and I wandered down to the main square in the old town Tarragona and found it filled with people awaiting some form of entertainment. After waiting a couple of minutes we started to see people rising from the crowd while standing on others shoulders.

Come to find out these people were building a castell, or a human tower.

This tradition originated near Tarragona, though now it is a popular tradition practiced through Catalunya. These castellers build a human tower with no safety equipment aside from a helmet for the youngest castellers. The Castell is created on cobblestone in the main square and any mistakes can be fatal. The top of the tower is made by the youngest castellers, who are 6 years old.

This was such an unexpected delight to see this tradition. Afterward we sat in the square and had a dinner, which was delicious and also a great price!

We spent the rest of the evening walking around Tarragona and enjoying the sights that Tarragona had to offer.

The next day we were off to Barcelona. While Barcelona was a wonderful city full of tourists attractions, Tarragona was by far my favorite part of the weekend. The city was gorgeous, and the quiet calm was a nice reprieve from the constant buzz of typical tourist cities.

Traveling to Tarragona was delightful, and even though most people didn’t travel there, or won’t travel there, it provided not only a great experience and tourist sites, but it came without the tourist feel. Traveling off the beaten track can be fun and rewarding.