Trip Start May 27, 2007
37Trip End Sep 01, 2007
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Where I stayed
Sitges is the highlight of the coast south of Barcelona. It was established as a holiday town in the 1960īs but has since become more of a youthful, party spot and resort which has brought much higher prices. Day-trippers from Barcelona get off easy though since the beach is free and only a 5 minutes walk from the bus or train stations. The town center is relatively concentrated with narrow streets and small shops.
The main street though actually isnīt a street, itīs the beautiful promenade along the sea
Where Dubrovnik last summer had an amazing natural beauty, the beauty of Sitges is man-made. The town has a great design with the small town center and then surrounding residential areas. The big promenade is great for people watching as everyone from the elderly to kids on bikes or rollerbladers can all safely enjoy it at the same time. I estimate that the promenade is about 5 km long and essentially runs the length of the town.
As usual, Lee and I picked about the furthest beach to avoid the large crowds in town. It was quite a hike to get there but the cove had better scenery than the large, flat beach in town. The beach was made up of small pebbles so we rented lounge chairs for 8€ each
The town of Sitges doesnīt have much in the way of sights apart from the beaches. The main landmark is the Eglesia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla parish church which is visible from almost anywhere in town. There are plenty of high end restaurants and boutiques for the international jet set crowd (definitely not us). A lot of Sitges allure comes from the way the town has managed to retain itīs small town charm while still being a big hit with the ĻinĻ crowd. I just loved how gorgeous the beaches and town were and canīt wait to come back for a longer stay next week.
6/24-7/3 I was up early with Lee and took the MonBus (no idea why itīs called that) from the Barcelona city center to Sitges. Without checking online I donīt know how anyone would know where the stop is since it looks just like a regular bus stop. The bus trip was fine and not as long as I expected. The train to Sitges was still not operating due to the derailment the week before.
There was not the level of activity on the trip this week since Lee was gone
I stayed at the Hotel Alba which is in a residential area about midway between town and the best beaches. Itīs about a 20 minute walk either way which has been pretty inconvenient since you canīt even get a Coke anywhere around the hotel. My hotel is one of only a handful of hotels in a residential area since Sitges has done a great job of separating the residential areas from the old town/tourist area. My room has been nice though since it has 5 large windows creating a nice breeze on the warm evenings (and my own bathroom!).
The books I read this week were:
Devil in the White City, Larsen
Kill all the Lawyers, Levine
The Overlook, Connelly
The Quickie, Patterson
The 6th Target, Patterson
The Woods, Coben
Promise Me, Coben
Numbered Account, Reich (in the middle of)
Iīm glad I was able to find some of these at bookstores here since I had run out
I finally ran out of PowerBars and, despite searching everywhere, still have not found any. Breakfast is included with my hotel, but itīs a typical English breakfast with toast, jelly, lunch meats, tomatoes, cheese, and croissants. I went a couple of times and just had dry cereal in the room the others. Iīm still hoping I can find PowerBars at a future stop!
The weather has been magnificent all week. There was a brief thundershower last night, but otherwise it has been sunny with just a stray cloud. Itīs not humid at all and temperatures have been around 80. Iīve managed to get a decent tan and havenīt gotten burned yet thanks to SPF 30 sunblock.
For those that havenīt heard of Sitges here are some factoids:
roughly 40 kms SW of Barcelona (30 minutes by bus or train)
4500 hotel beds (more than half 4 star or better, but not mine)
became popular in the 1960īs as the only center of counterculture in mainland Spain (while Spain was still under dictator Francisco Franco)
it has to be about the cleanest city I have ever seen; there are cleaning crews out every day, recycle bins every block, plenty of signs, and conscientious locals
almost 35% of the 30,000 ĻlocalsĻcome from the Netherlands, England or Scandanavia and their children can attend the international school here
Sitges property prices approach those of London (most expensive in Europe)
home to major Carnival, roughly during Mardi Gras
17 beautiful sand beaches most with quality diplomas and blue flags awarded by the EU
Sitges has many upscale shops and boutiques
As in Barcelona, Catalan is the official language of Sitges. I was at a total loss as to what people were saying most of the time. Everyone can speak Spanish as well, but Catalan is a source of pride much like French is to those in Quebec. There is a strong French influence with Catalan and the words are generally softer than Spanish words. Even knowing some Spanish itīs difficult to figure out Catalan words where Spanish words are often recognizable. One amusing aspect to Catalan is the lisp; they say Bar-the-lona and Gra-the-as, instead of Barcelona and Gracias. To me itīs like the whole region has what Cindy Brady had!
Sitges is definitely a night town with lots of bars and clubs. Virtually nothing opens before 10 am except for the bars/cafes. Iīm not sure if the bars ever close. Iīm hoping people are there in the morning for their coffee and newspaper and not still there from the night before.
Iīve spent considerable time planning for the future stops on my trip. I like to book a place to stay before I get there and, with it being July and holiday season, Iīm encountering places that are either full and/or very expensive
One thing I have not seen during the last month in Portugal and Spain is a tennis court - not hard, clay, or anything. With so many good players from Spain they must play at country clubs where I havenīt been rather than starting out on city courts.
Itīs been more than a month now since a visit to the gym and I can definitely see and feel a difference. Iīve enjoyed very much not going to the gym though. By living on Coke Zero and trail mix Iīm trying not to totally let myself go.
This past Saturday the masses arrived! I had been in the Cybercafe and when I exited to the street it was mobbed. I couldnīt believe all the people. It is the first Saturday of the traditional summer holiday season and, with perfect weather, everyone has headed to the beach.
I really loved my time in Sitges! It is small enough so that you can walk anywhere, you are close to a big city and major transportation hubs, the city is super clean, it has great beaches and wonderful weather, and it has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. It would definitely be more fun to visit with family and/or friends! Iīd like to return so just let me know when youīd like to visit Sitges and Iīll happily tag along!