A Quick Stop In Costa Dorada – Torredembarra, Spain
Starting our progression home from Peñíscola was kind of bitter-sweet.
We’d hit the southernmost point of our mini-trip to Spain so we knew that everything we did from now on would be part of the route home. Also we’d be following the same coast we’d just traversed the other way coming down so we’d be back-tracking a good portion of the way, which is never as exciting as the first time you travel a route.
But we hadn’t seen everything yet, and like every drive you do, no matter how many times you do it (I’m thinking of you Hwy 395…..ahhhhhh), there’s always something new to explore.
We had our sights on a particular portion of the coast which we’d missed on the way down, and that we suspected we would probably love (very high probability here), but it was ~4 hours away. So what we needed was a little mini-stop in-between.
We’re (At Our Core) Slo-Mo Travelers
We’ve always been “slo-mo” travel types, which basically means we prefer shorter drives combined with longer stays, rather than speeding from place to place. It means we see less (overall), but we get to explore each place in a smidgen more depth than we would otherwise.
It’s no better or worse than any other form of travel…it’s just what we prefer. We tried the whole fast-move thing our first year on the road (move every 3-4 days kinda thing) and although we covered a ton of miles it was so darn exhausting that it very nearly caused us to stop RVing all-together. Thankfully we learned our lesson, slowed down and actually started enjoying the journey rather than itching to see the max number of destination(s). It made a huge difference to our travel happiness.
Driving a small rig like LMB hasn’t really changed this approach.
LMB is SUPER easy to drive (much less exhausting than a big rig), so if we wanted to drive longer distances we easily could, but we just haven’t felt it. Despite our rig change we’re still slo-mo types at heart and prefer driving just few hours and then relaxing or sightseeing in the new spot at our leisure. The pets prefer that pace too, and since we’re simply human servants for our paws, their preferences are our command.
Hey, it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…
Sometimes We Still Need A Short Stop Along The Way
Planning short drives doesn’t always take you exactly where you need to go, however.
Sometimes the places we really want to see (i.e. spend longer stops in) are fairly far apart and given we only like to drive a few hours at a time, we need to find a short stop en-route. In the USA, these stops were usually cheap campgrounds (e.g. Passport America, in low season), State Parks or free overnight stops (e.g. Walmart parking lot etc.). Here in Spain it’s cheap campgrounds (ASCI, in low season) or cheap/free semi-developed parking areas (Areas Autocaravanas).
It’s really not that much different….
For this route we looked for a stop around half-way to our next slo-mo destination, with beach and something interesting-looking nearby. A little Google map magic landed us in Torredembarra, a small mostly nondescript town which captured our attention because of…..you guessed it….a lighthouse!
The Newest Lighthouse In Spain
To be perfectly honest the lighthouse of Torredembarra might have been the first thing the drew us here, but it didn’t turn out to the main attraction.
That’s not because we’re falling out of love with lighthouses, but simply because of our tastes (yes, we have lighthouse tastes). Far Torredembarra is the very newest lighthouse in Spain. She started operating mere moments ago (in lighthouse time) on Jan, 2000 and stands a sweeping 38 meters (125 ft) above land, casting a light ~20 miles out to sea.
Designed by architect Josep Maria Llinàs she has a contemporary and sharply geometric look with an octagon-shaped tower and a bulbous UFO-like lens room at the top. So although she might be distinctive, she’s not exactly pretty and doesn’t ooze nearly the same charm (for me) as the older lighthouses along the coast. But she’s still impressive, and what makes her unique is that she’s situated in a natural park, on the edge of some rather pretty sandstone cliffs.
Internet reviews gave this place a 5-star rating for the natural area alone, so it seemed like just the ticket.
Another ASCI Stop (With A Serious Siesta Policy)
Once again we decided to enjoy the luxury of a campground, thanks to our ASCI discount card.
Camping Relax Sol was only EUR 16 per night with our card, and rated decently. It’s a campground that caters mostly to seasonal visitors (lots of semi-permanent motorhome/caravan set-ups) with maybe 10 or so empty slots for transients like ourselves. We ended up with a large shaded site, surrounded by family plots. Lots of kids around so not nearly as quiet as our previous few spots, but only ~150 m walk from a large, sandy dog-friendly beach and the bonus of a very serious siesta policy.
You don’t mess with post-lunch sleep in Spain, not even with bicycles….
The only negative was a railroad line running right between camp & the beach, which meant we’d hear trains rock through every few hours or so. Not a big deal with the high-quality insulation we have in LMB (we literally don’t hear a thing when we’re inside with the doors shut), but annoying enough (especially hanging outside) that we wouldn’t want to stay in this camp for a longer spell.
We decided that 2 nights would do the job amply before we’d want to move on.
We Explore The Area
With a whole day free to explore we set-out on our bicycles to see what Torredembarra had to offer.
Our first impression was that this was BY FAR the most laid-back beach town we’d been to so far, and also the most local.
Torredembarra lies smack in the middle of the Costa Dorada ( or Costa Daurada in Catalan = Golden Coast) and it’s a fair-sized place with a population of ~15,000. It’s in a bit of an odd spot, so it’s not really on the main tourist route, which means pretty much everyone here is Spanish with few (if any) international tourists. Plus since it’s low season the beaches are mostly empty and you’ve got almost everything to yourself.
From our campsite it was literally a 5 min pop under the railroad lines to the beach where we were welcomed by miles of white sand boarded by a beautiful wide, boardwalk open to bikes, paws and pedestrians. There’s lots of water-facing restaurants, and all the usual beach stuff….volleyball, boats etc. Plus there’s plenty of parking too. We actually noticed several motorhomes parked up along the lots closest to the beach despite rather obvious “no overnight camping” signs. In low season it seems nobody cares and we’re starting to get the impression that in Spain they take these things pretty relaxed. Maybe next time, that’s how we’ll visit…
We biked past the harbor to the cliffs of the lighthouse. It was a gorgeous day, not too hot, wonderfully sunny and perfectly still. The natural area was lovely, just like the internet reviews said it would be with a dirt trail along the edge of some very pretty, plunging cliffs backed by aqua-blue sea (there’s something about that Mediterranean water, ya know?). The lighthouse wasn’t open and wasn’t exactly stunning (as we expected), but she did provide a nice anchor for the view, and as I always say…any day is good day when you see a lighthouse. Not bad!
Back in camp we took doggie for a romp on the beach (what a blast!), enjoyed some Spanish wine, chorizo, cheese and ham for dinner (the basics are the best) and plotted our next move. A pretty little stop!SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Love the beautiful blue water, love Polly inserting her tongue in Paul’s nose and Love the 395 reference. We miss you all.
Sue Malone says
Fun to see the similarities, and yes, the differences between RVing in the US and in Europe. That blue water and small town vibe seems like such a delight. Something harder to find here in the US for sure. Lovely to see Polly and Paul looking so happy.
Gorgeous pictures! Such an interesting little place. I want to visit Spain.
Angie Quantrell says
Gorgeous! And perfect for exploring on bicycles. 🙂
I’ll never get there so your photos are so much appreciated. It’s beautiful!
C’est avec plaisir que je vous lies. Votre plume est une douce musique avec de belles photos illustrant votre propos. Merci de partager. (blog voyage de Chantal et Réjean)
Donna M Sims says
I’d slow down and stay a while here too. How beautiful!
Absolutely gorgeous! I remember the first time I saw the Mediterranean Sea—I couldn’t believe the color and clarity, and the temperature (in summer) was wonderful for swimming. You guys are finding such sweet spots to explore. You’re making me want to return to Europe!
Jodee Gravel says
Definitely a unique lighthouse – such a beautiful setting!! We are slo-mos too and often find the best places in our mid-point stops along the way. Loving your Euro-travels!!