Weekend in La Pineda & Tarragona
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
My other half was overseas and would return via Reus airport on the Saturday. So I decided to bring the kids near to Reus for a long weekend (school was closed), and found La Pineda to be close by after some googling!
Thinking it was on the outskirts of Salou rather than a town in itself, I booked full board in the hotel as I figured we could not venture far walking with two kids. We got an excellent deal in the Gran Hotel La Hacienda: 2 adults + 2 children for 2 nights full board @ €240 total.
The drive was uneventful to La Pineda, taking approx. 1.5 hours. But....there were 3 tolls totalling just under €13 one way, so an expensive route. At the end, my 5 year old son was saying 'oh no, not another toll'!
Tip: Parking in the hotel was something like €16 a night. However no requirement to book it, as there was a lot of free parking on the road at the side of the hotel.
As I was alone with the two kids, I brought their scooters so they could ride their scooters to the hotel, and carried a rucksack instead of a suitcase: Easier to throw a rucksack on my back with two small kids, even if it may not be the most presentable when arriving in a hotel!
I was surprised to reach the hotel reception to find a large queue checking in. Surprised a) there was a queue so early and b) they were processing checkin at 1pm, when official checkin is 2pm (really great!) When checking in, we were given the option to use one of our lunch bookings for that day, or have it on Sunday before we left. Even though my husband was not with us, I decided to have it there and then as it made life easier to get lunch onsite, which was buffet and extensive (with IKEA plastic plates, but alas, not the plastic cups).
We then headed to the pool; its location beside the playground is fantastic, as mom could sit back and watch the kids playing from her deck chair. We had a lot of fun on the fake grass areas, chasing each other, and enjoyed the last of the summer sun before going to dinner.
We did check the kids club - it looked ok, but not appealing enough for either of my kids to want to stay (they vote with their feet...and sometimes a loud voice....lol!)
We were first in the dining room for dinner, and again, enjoyed an extensive buffet. Afterwards, we played with some of the casino type games in the foyer before heading to bed. The children didn't sleep, so once the mini disco started, I took them out of bed to go down. Children's night entertainment was good for the month of October.
The next morning, we had our breakfast and then took the scooters to go investigate the area. The nice thing about the scooters is the kids are flying along and I am running beside them - so we get places super quick. What we discovered was a nice small town - while modern rather than historical, it had great playgrounds and a fantastic long promenade to scoot down and a near empty beach on an overcast Saturday morning.
Spending another lovely evening around the hotel and the town, but by now with my other half who had arrived via Reus Airport, I went for a nice run the length of the prom: reaching near the port of Tarragonna on one end, and the road to Port Aventura on the other.
The next morning, we left around 11am for Tarragona. Not doing any prior research, we were armed with the tourist map from the hotel.
We parked right beside the Passeig Arqueologic in Aparcament Saavedra.
Tip: Tarragona has free parking in council provided car parks.
From there, we went to the Passeig and as Catalonian residents, there was no entry fee. This was a really great walk, with the kids learning about history as we went. The only issue was the gate at the end was closed, so we had to double back where we came (the kids had their energy, but you are always wondering for how long?!)
We then walked through the old town, a beautiful walk, and had lunch in La Casa del Vermut. We didn't check reviews before we arrived, and while the waitress was nice, she seemed overworked (but too chilled out.....there was no fast walking between tables...while we waited for our food with two kids getting more restless). While the meal wasn't great, the atmosphere in the area was. There was a lovely group sitting at the next restaurant who engaged our kids and gifted them with sweets while we watched life go by on a sunny Sunday in Tarragona.
We then started walking towards the Roman Amphitheatre. We found a quaint gift shop where the kids got wooden swords. The local gegants were parading so we joined the parade for a fun 20 minutes!
Reaching the Amphitheatre, we were in awe of its size and location. Of course, you have to block out the buildings around you and the train line at the back, but otherwise, it was impressive. Again, no entry fee to visit.
We then took some time out at a playground before deciding to walk back to the carpark and drive home. However, we passed the tourist train stop and there was the train, so we decided to jump on it. It was a nice surprise, as we had a lovely afternoon getting the full tour of Tarragona. Of course, not all of Tarragona is a picturesque view of Roman times, but it gave us a good feel for the town itself.
We finally left Tarragona and headed north back to Barcelona. Deciding to see if we could limit the cost of the tolls, we managed to decrease the cost from €13 to €4 in tolls with some creative exits from the motorway. We did end up on the coast road for the final stretch to Barcelona and it was really enjoyable, although my foot started to hurt from constantly hanging over the brake due to the tight bends on the road!
We had a fabulous weekend, and an almost surprise weekend as it was all surrounding a homecoming to Reus Airport!