Tarragona and La Mora
After leaving Barcelona and heading south, we checked into a new campsite at the end of a little road leading to a beach called La Mora. It looked pretty nice: away from the traffic and so quiet, directly fronting a beautiful beach with fine, golden sand between two rocky headlands and backed by pine forest on the hill. We booked in for two nights; we stayed for four.
Tarragona is the local town only about 20 minutes away by local bus. We had already driven around the outskirts getting to a big supermarket for supplies and were generally unimpressed by the huge tower blocks and the heavy industry. But everyone we spoke to said that the old town was a must. So we bussed ourselves in and spent a whole day wandering around the back streets of this once Roman capital of Hispania. Roman ruins abound though the Medieval city was built on top. The walls are for wandering, as is a large section of the Circus. The amphitheatre is right on the seafront and is in remarkably good condition - better than the Christian Basilica that was built much later in the middle of it. We lunched in a big square that was part of the original Forum - the little cafe even had part of its floor in glass revealing the Roman foundations below. At one stage while looking at a model of the Roman city, then called Tarraco, a young archaeologist started to chat about the finds and the history. It was like having a personal guide for the city. We might have been unimpressed by the surrounds but old Tarragona is a gem.
Our archaeologist friend also told us how to get to a Roman aqueduct a few kilometres away, so another day we took the van to find it. It seems that hardly anyone knows about it - we were the only ones there for quite a while. It was a bit of a thrill to be able to walk all the way across it.
We had also been told about a Roman quarry a 20 minute walk from the campsite so earlyish one morning before the heat of the day set in we walked a dirt track by the pine forest, by olive groves and across the motorway to Le Medol. Again no other visitors were here, and while there was someone sitting by the gate, the whole place was pretty much untended and overgrown. We walked into the centre of the quarry where there is a large obelisk the top of which marks the original height of the land. The rock was cut from all around and the obelisk was left. About 66,000 cubic metres of limestone was cut from here to build Tarraco. The cut marks from the tools the workers used can be clearly seen in the rock faces and the walls are stepped as if the next block is ready to be cut away.
And the rest of the time we relaxed a bit. It was good to have a break and catch up with some of the boring things like washing the van, the clothes, the sheets. And of course also to have a swim or two in the Med.