I’ve just arrived back from a fabulous weekend in Spain. Even though I travel to Barcelona for work monthly, I don’t really know the place. I fly in, do my work and fly straight back out again. After a lot of prompting from clients, I finally booked a weekend in Sitges to follow on from a business trip – and it turned out to be the best travel decision I’ve made this year!
I flew in to Barcelona on Thursday afternoon and worked until about 5pm on the Friday. I got a taxi back out to the airport, where I picked up @FrankDJS and our hire car and a little over an hour later, we were checked into our hotel. It was the first time I’d been to Sitges and I’d imagined it a little bit like Soho-on-Sea. It has a reputation for being a gay resort, but it’s so much more than that.
We spent Saturday morning and afternoon in Barcelona, walking around and taking in some sights. The weather was dry but very overcast, so it was perfect for spending in the city. Sites is about 50mins away by train, so it’s very doable to go in and out of Barcelona in a day. All in all, I walked about 20km, with brief stops for lunch with some of @Frankdjs’ cousins who also happened to be in town and coffee.
We also walked over to La Sagrada Familia to see how it has progressed in the years since we’d both seen it. In sort, it’s hard to tell. For one thing, it’s difficult to get through the throngs of tourists and for another, much of the basilica is covered in netting as part of the building process.
Saturday afternoons are obviously a lousy time to swing by, but we had enough of a look at the outside before hopping on a train back out to the coast. Seriously though, Chinese tourists are a force to be reckoned with – they travel in large groups, don’t do ‘lanes’ on the pavement and just barrel through anyone unlucky enough to be between them and their destination.
We made out way back to Sitges and had a lovely evening wandering around town as the sun went down. Sites is seriously picturesque and it seems the locals (and authorities) are keen to keep it pretty, clean and welcoming. Such a slower pace of life than in Barcelona – and there’s something about being near the sea that does me good. I grew up just minutes from a beautiful coastline in Dublin, and I seriously miss it here in London. So any chance to get next to the sea (any sea!) and I’m there.
We stayed at the Sitges Melia hotel, which is a little off the beaten track. It’s about a fifteen minute walk along the coast into town, but it was a very pleasant walk. Saturday night, we enjoyed seeing the town lit up and had a wander around the various bars, eventually settling into La Villa, where the clientele and the video show kept us entertained for several hours. They played a series of comedy music videos, clips from concerns and come great camp classics (Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe singing ‘Barcelona?) to keep the punters entertained. Cocktails were…generously made, to put it mildly and I think @FrankDJS benefitted from the bar staff’s chilled approach to measures.
Coincidentally (yes, really) it was Bears’ Weekend in Sitges, so there was a really fun atmosphere and a certain theme to the type of guys who were spending the weekend there. Bears? Think burly, beards, tattoos and shiny heads. A stereotype yes, but really – it’s based on something, right? And while I don’t identify as a bear (or really, any other kind of stereotypical gay guy), I had to notice that I’m a) bald, b) bearded and c) not exactly slight of frame. I looked and felt right at home and @FrankDJS got more than a few admiring glances.
I’ll make sure we’re there same time next year – a great boost for the ego!
Sunday was a (relative) scorcher and we spent it wandering along the coast and sitting in the sun. After a stupendous buffet breakfast at the hotel. There is a spectacular boulevard the entire length of the town, which we walk, along with the marina and the old town. We spent a while people-watching over coffee and swung by the beach near our hotel which was (surprise!) clothing optional. I didn’t partake, preferring the privacy of our hotel balcony which had great views of both the marina and the beach.
I have no problems stripping off, but I didn’t have a towel to sit on and really, really wanted to chill out in the hotel room for a while. But next time, for sure. There are few things more enjoyable than a pants-less run along a beach and into the sea. Really. Plus, no tan lines.
And I know I’m not alone in this, as by 2pm, the naturist beach was absolutely jammed-packed with men and women of all shapes and sizes. It’s the great leveller. But really – mind those sensitive bits in the sun. Sunburn isn’t fun anywhere, but it’s definitely more painful in some places. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
Last night, after I’d thoroughly toasted myself on the balcony (nothing burnt in the process), we walked back into town and had a few drinks outside at the Parrots Pub, where I’m happy to report cocktails were put together with equally generous measures! Due to an early start this morning, I wanted to get a vaguely early night (Saturday ended at 2am on Sunday morning – late by my standards!) and so was happy to be in bed and turning off the lights by midnight.
So. Sitges. Utterly fabulous and I can’t wait to go back. It’s by the sea, but it’s not a resort in the typical, tacky sense of the word. It’s tasteful, well preserved and beautifully maintained. I stopped our walks regularly to take a snap of a beautiful house or garden. There’s a complete lack of tacky theme bars or the kind of clubs that have blighted Mallorca, for example. The beaches were spotless and the sea was clean.
It’s a fun, party town but like the best of us, it knows its limits.
I’m already planning my return visit, hopefully next month on another business trip to Barcelona. It’s very doable, as it’s so close to the city. I might stay somewhere more central next time and will definitely be enjoying more beach time. It’s a real gem and I’m very happy to say it more than exceeded my expectations.