More Santa Tecla

Trip Start Sep 14, 2011
Trip End Sep 26, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Monday, September 19, 2011

First things first. We still had a rental car key to return which meant no chance of a lie-in if we wanted to avoid paying for an extra day. There are steps down from the viewpoint at the end of Rambla Nova to the coastal road and the Mediterranean was glittering in the morning sun. It's less than 15 minutes walk from the hotel to the Hertz office and mostly quite a nice walk at that. The people in the office seemed surprised that we'd left the car in one of their spaces and not entirely pleased about it but after hanging around for about 20 minutes whilst they inspected it, they sent us on our way. We had been prepared to pay for the car parking if necessary but were pleased not to, because parking in central Tarragona is surprisingly expensive.

Breakfast was acquired in the small cafe a few doors down from Hertz where they probably don't get loads of tourists, but the coffees and bocadillos were pretty good.

There was nothing on the Santa Tecla programme for the early part of the day and we weren't expecting James or Tony & Kay to be up and about soon, so we went for a walk to perhaps see some areas we hadn't been to before. We wound our way fairly randomly through Tarragona's streets, slowly heading up hill until we finally intersected Rambla Nova, quite a long way down (or up) near the castellers statue where we spent an amusing few minutes trying to get a photo of the work without people in it. It's a popular location and we can't blame others for wanting a photo too. We find that most of the things that we take pictures of don't have us in them. Perhaps we're hideously ugly and don't want to remind ourselves, but I think it's more to do with taking pictures of 'stuff' rather than 'us in front of stuff'. And one thing that really annoys us is a consequence of digital photography, when having stood in front of the object or view that we want to photograph and got another image of their gormless face with an out of focus elephant or Niagra Falls behind them, they continue to stand in the same place, oblivious to everybody else, so they can have a look on a 3 inch screen at the results of their efforts. 

Well we finally got the shot we wanted, presumably because we frightened everyone else off with out scowls and tutting, so we carried on up the street, heading away from the centre.  Don't try crossing the roaundabout with the pond in the middle; there's no easy way to do it. Take the long (and safe) route around the outside - it will mean that you can avoid admitting defeat.

The next item of interest is a statue to Lluis Companys, a man who is worthy of a little research, should you feel like doing any, into the history of modern Spain.  Beyond this, there didn't look to be much more to keep us going and we'd had contacts from Tony, Kay and James so it was back to the city centre in search of some breakfast for them and some cider for us. A bit early, but the sun was warm and we weren't driving.

The Ajuntament front door was open, so we checked at the desk and were told that it was ok to go inside. The childrens' versions of the beasts of the Seguici Popular were on show in the first hall whilst a side room contained a huge boat thingy and an exhibition of some rather pedestrian maritime paintings by a Russian artist who had visited Tarragona recently.

JD and CC had been going on about the Donosti restaurant in Serallo, the port of Tarragona and their excellent food and cider and that was our next destination, though we paused to examine the unusual architecture of the bull-ring. Donosti was closed so we messed around at the harbourside a bit and noted quite a lot of Audouin's Gulls amongst the commoner species (gull numbers were frequently replenished because a couple of hundred arrived in the wake of the numerous fishing boats that arrived in the port) and then opted for the longish walk along the sea front to get back into the city.

There are a handful of touristy restaurants overlooking the marina and we stopped at one for an hour or so to quench our thirsts before walking the length of the beach where we admired a lovely young lady sculpted out of sand, a work that we enjoyed much more than the Russian sailing ships back at the town hall. The beach at Tarragona is pretty good for a city beach and there were plenty of people enjoying the sun and swimming in the sea.

There are very few obvious ways down to the beach from Tarragona because of the location of the railway line. There seem to be a few footbridges or underpasses missing, so we had to walk well past the station to find our way by a slightly circuitous route back to the centre. A small park on the way holds an unusual gold-painted sculpture and some nice trees.

We'd hoped to have a look inside the Casa de la Festa but it was closed to visitors so we earmarked it for a return trip later in the week and made our way past the Circ Roma to the old city. On the way we passed a superb mural of some jelly baby like characters scaling the side of a tall building which made us laugh.

According to the excellent Santa Tecla 2011 programme, yesterday had been La Diada Castellera and today was La Santa Tecla Petita. so we had a choice of either heading for Rambla Nova and queueing for the 'gelat de les festes' or making for Placa de la Forum for the Ball de Serrallonga Petit. We reckoned we'd walked far enough, so standing in a queue didn't have much appeal but with and hour to go before the performance the idea of sitting outside a cafe drinking Vichy Catalan (other drinks are available) did.

Serrallonga, real name Joan Sala i Ferrer, was a seventeenth century Catalan bandit who has become almost legendary as the centuries have progressed and we watched groups of youngters in costume re-enact episodes from his life.

The next programme highlight was the Cercavilla de la Santa Tecla Petita, a parade ending up at the ayuntament consisting of the beasts of the Seguici Popular and many folklore based groups including the Ball de Diables Petits, the Cucaferata, the Ball de Gitanetes, the Colla Petita de Xiquets de Tarragona and one of our favourites, the Ball de Patatuf Petitet.

The culmination of the parade at the town hall is well attended with many a proud parent and grandparent present and the well lit stage playing host to numerous well drilled and confident groups in what seems to be a great opportunity for young children to get experience of appearing in public under the spotlight - and they really seem to enjoy it. It's wrong to have favourites but it's difficult not to have a soft spot for the tiny Patatufs as they demonstrate their complex trade-mark dance steps.

Apart from a few concerts, this being the children's day, that was the end of the entertainment for today.
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