Get the bus or train from Tarragona and you are in Torrendembarra in less than 15 minutes. From there, head south-west till you get to the beach and when you do get ready to take a leap in to the wide deep blue.
Torredembarra Paella beach, has a strange effect on the mind. It’s like a jolt, a shift of a wide stretch of beach with barely any reference point. Sunbathers are lost in space, and a few purpose planted palm trees look surreal, as if fallen out of space.
We got there towards the end of the day, late on a Wednesday, close to a clouded over sunset, the town behind, angular and beheaded. Heading west on the paved seafront, the holiday apartments give way to the the old fishermen’s quarter, with its empty parallel streets, closed cafes with tables and chairs piled high. It’s that emptiness which is so striking. To Salou, less than half an hour down the road and crammed with sun sizzlers, Torredembarra, at this hour of the day, feels like the place that time forgot.
Close to the sea shore, unmissable, floating in a world of its own is Alfa & Omega, a iconic work by one of the key artists of the Spanish pop art movement Rafael Bartolozzi. It has a powerful primitive visual quality which makes the heart leap.
Walk further, past the fishing boats sitting in the sand and you’ll reach a nature reserve and a long stretch of beach. You get a sense of what the original eco-system must have been here before it got dissected by the rail road and motorway, swimming pools and villas.
A walkway made of old railway sleepers take you into what is known as “Salats” a world of shallow sand dunes and natural ponds in which birds nest undisturbed from human interference.
The fast moving freight trains which run past buy only meters away add to the strange atmosphere of this place, the screeching noise, suddenly there, suddenly gone again, then the silence of the Salats and the echoes of waves bringing in the night.