Flying into Barcelona, Spain, in 2013, we picked up a hire care and had no problems at all driving down to Cambrils, on the Costa Daurada (Gold Coast) – despite not having any directions or detailed map on hand! A virtual tour of the area on Google Maps Street View before leaving home stood us in good stead and we easily found our timeshare accommodation: Somni de Cambrils.
Fairly basic, but clean and comfortable, in a peaceful location, we spent most evenings chilling out on the balcony with a Spanish beer or glass of rosé – a treed reserve directly in front of us and a tantalising glimpse of the sea at the end of the street.
We frequented the quiet local beach, with its gold-flecked waters, each little bay with it’s own characteristics – and the cafes, restaurants and beach-bars a bonus. The churros foodtruck also became a regular after-dinner stop!
For a glimpse of history, we checked out the Roman ruins (Vil·la Romana de la Llosa) just around the corner, and wandered up the pretty palm-lined beachfront promenade to the Cambrils marina to spot the Torre del Port.
Central Cambrils was much busier with a plethora of shops and places to eat – both along the marina, and also as you meander in a maze of alleyways and malls in the backstreets. Las Palmeras grill was great, and I can recommend stopping for tapas and sangria at Les Barques, followed by a walk out onto the pier at sunset.
For more shopping, the mixed street market begins at the tourist information booth – just walk up along the canal and you can’t miss it. Or visit the indoor fresh food market: Mercat Municipal de La Vila, in Carrer Pere III, (open most mornings) and while in the vicinity, check out the old town – follow the signs to “Nucli Antic” to find remnants of the original city walls.
Up the coast towards Tarragona is the bigger tourist hotspot of Salou, which is certainly worth a visit, though we did prefer our more tranquil location. (Except for the one morning we were woken up at 4am by the bang-crash-clatter of the rubbish truck – collecting from the orderly set of 5 recycling depositories on the street corner nearby.)
But the highlight of the trip for me was seeing the amazing Roman Aqueduct (Les Ferreres Aqueduct), 4 kms outside Tarragona (just near where the N240 crosses the AP7, with access points directly off either highway). It’s a magnificent structure. Many a photo was taken while walking under it, over it, then back around the pathways through the gardens.
Tarragona itself is fascinating, rich with history, and evidence of early Roman occupation. Don’t miss walking to the end of Rambla Nova (shame we missed the market) and along the Balcón del Mediterráneo for ocean views and the Roman ampitheatre. Break your walk with lunch at one of the many el fresco eateries at Plaça de la Font, a spacious plaza – paella perhaps? – before making your way to the Cathedral. Take your time, there’s a lot to see.
All too quickly, our week in Spain came to an end and, just like that, after one final drama of ending up at the wrong airport terminal (be careful – they are 5kms apart! And yes, Barcelona Airport is also known as El Prat) we were heading back to our beloved France.