There are a lot of smaller cities easily accessible from Barcelona. We picked Tarragona for a day trip because it was a direct train ride of a little more than an hour and has extensive Roman ruins near the sea.
The day was perfect. Except for the one day of rain, we couldn't have asked for better weather on this trip.
The most impressive of the ruins is an amphitheatre, right next to the ocean.
The really interesting thing about this amphitheatre is that in the 800s (and again later in the middle ages), the people living in Tarragona built a Christian church in the middle of it. I love seeing how people throughout history have repurposed structures from earlier times. It's hard sometimes to remember that the United States is a brand new baby of a country, and that what we see as inevitable and enduring probably is not. (And thank god for that, President Trump.)
Here's some ruins of the church.
Here's Ben learning some information.
With a combo ticket you can go look at a bunch of other Roman stuff too. This big square building was originally a palace, but was used as a prison into the 20th century.
Nice views of the sea from the prison. We climbed a million steps to the top.
Tarragona is a regular town, too, of about 200,000 people. And of course there is a cathedral, located in an old city center.
The amphitheatre is actually located outside the ancient city's walls. The main street from the city to the theatre still exists.
From the tower you can see what remains of the ancient city walls. We really didn't intend to go down there and look at them in more detail, but we had a hard time determining how to get out of the complex.
It turned out to be pretty cool! In early modern Europe, Tarragonans tossed their trash into these Roman vaults beneath the city for convenience.
I didn't notice siesta in Barcelona, but you really see it in smaller towns. Mid-afternoon Tarragona was very quiet, with most things closed.
There was a big wedding letting out from the cathedral. The guests overall had surprisingly bad fashion sense.
Next to the Cathedral there was this little building with an open door into a beautiful courtyard. We went inside.
We kept expecting someone to come and yell at us, but nobody did. We couldn't really tell what this was even supposed to be! It might have been apartments. Maybe for church people?
Around here we came upon an energetic group of people in a square having some kind of get-together - we walked over to see what was going on but then noticed a bunch of signs saying things about how tourism was a pox on society! So we played it cool and tried to look Spanish.
This square was lined with sidewalk cafes and there were quite a few people having lunch.
We caught a late afternoon train back to Barcelona.
One problem with the unfamiliar eating schedule is that we kept getting into situations wherein we were starving and testy. This resulted in us popping into a touristy restaurant that Ben was extremely displeased with - we had a few bites of some things and then left in search of something better to do. El Xampanyet was closed but we remembered a good tapas bar just across the street, so we headed there and got a seat at the bar. This place (Tapeo) was great. Ben got sweetbreads.
A couple of American girls sitting next to me were eating this, so I asked them what it was - fish & chips with black garlic aioli - and ordered it too. Great decision!
Here's their leg. Per the waiter, they go through about two legs per week.
The night salvaged by good food, we went home and went to sleep.