Spain Extravaganza – Last Stop, Sitges

I am sadly back at home in cold and snowy Calgary. That is right, you read correctly, it is September 9th and already there is snow and lots of it. How I wish I was still in Spain! Looking through my pictures is a mixture of happy and sad, happy I was there and warm, sad I am no longer there and instead stuck in a snowy cold mess. So now I am going to spend a few moments reliving our last stop, Sitges. It is about 30 minutes South of Barcelona along the coast. To get to Sitges from Barcelona, take the R2 train from Passeig de Gracia. We found out that it was a bit trickier from Valencia. If you go on the RENFE (Spanish train) website it will not give you a route from Valencia to Sitges. To get there you must go to Vilanova i la Geltru and then purchase a separate ticket to transfer to the R2 towards Barcelona, it is then only one stop to Sitges. The route between Valencia and Barcelona can be busy so book early if you can. Once in Sitges it is easy and cheap to get to Barcelona and there is even a direct bus to the airport which we used at the end of the trip.

Sitges is known for a few things, one is its gorgeous setting and beautiful beaches. Sitges is also known for is its nightlife (especially the clubs and bars along the so-called “street of sin”) and as a popular gay resort area. The town is right on the sea and is a great mix of old Spain and resort heaven. There are historic sights to see, such as the cathedral Esglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla and the gothic residence Cau Ferrat, there is a wonderful walk along the Passeig Maritim which goes from the old town of Sitges to the port along the water and of course there are the beaches. It is a compact area and walkable to most sights and many of the beaches. The town itself is fun to wander as there are many shops and interesting historic sights scattered throughout the town. The main streets through town are lined with restaurants, cafes, shops of all kinds (tourist and non-tourist), fresh fruit and vegetable stores and gelato places. There are as many gelato shops in Sitges as there are in most Italian towns. Most nights we ate along the lovely promenade where you can hear the waves and people watch from the patios set up outside each restaurant and then sometimes head into the main part of Sitges to enjoy the nightlife.

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Aside from the main beach in Sitges beside the seaside promenade, there are actually 17 beaches, all with soft golden sand. The water is warm and you can walk out quite a long ways before it gets deep. Here the waves are much higher than the other places we went in Spain, the beach near our hotel even had surf lessons, although the waves are still very manageable and easy to swim in.  Most have chairs and umbrellas to rent or you can just stretch out in the sand. One word of warning, some of these beaches are nudist beaches. There are still people in swimsuits on the nudist beaches but there are also a lot of naked people. If you aren’t comfortable with that then make sure to check at the hotel to find out which beaches aren’t nudist so you don’t get an unexpected surprise. Another warning for those that don’t know, regardless of what beach you go on, all beaches in Spain have women going topless, not something you see very often in North America but quite common in Europe in general.

We stayed at the Melia Sitges in the port area. The hotel was big and very nice, large comfortable rooms, many with balconies. It was nice and quiet for sleeping or relaxing as the port area is away from the busy central area of Sitges yet is only a short 15 minute walk along Passeig Maritim (which is well lit at night) to get to all of the action. The port area has restaurants and shops too and was just 5 minutes from the hotel. We had a beautiful view of the port from our large balcony. The pool area in the hotel was great, lots of chairs on a big space on the lawn and a large pool plus it was right beside the restaurant and bar. The beach closest to our hotel was smaller and in a lovely cove lined on one side by green hills. It had lots of chairs to rent and a snack place for drinks and food.

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From Sitges we did a day trip to Vilanova I La Geltru and Tarragona. Vilanova is another town along the coast about 10 minutes on the R2 train South of Sitges and therefore has gorgeous beaches as well. We only had about 2 hours there before our train to Tarragona so we wandered the town instead of going to the beach. La Rambla is lined with trees and older buildings, it is a great place to stop for a coffee and watch the world go by. From the train the visitor information centre is a long walk away, it is along the waterfront just past the end of La Rambla, but it is worth the walk.  They have a good map plus a great free pamphlet with 4 walking tours of Vilanova to do on your own. Each one is unique, one for the maritime area, one for La Rambla, one for Geltru (which was formerly a separate town) and one wandering through the rest of the historical area of Vilanova, and they can all be done in sequence or separately depending on your interest. We went all the way along the La Rambla walk and then into Geltru to see Castell de la Geltru.

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We then continued on the train to Tarragona, a UNESCO world heritage site. Definitely worth the trip. It is known for its Roman ruins and of course more beautiful beaches. The Roman Amphitheatre built in the 2nd century A.D. can be seen from almost anywhere along the coast. Walking from the train station you walk uphill on the road and as the road turns the corner you have an amazing view of the amphitheatre and the sea.  It is 3 euros to go into the amphitheatre and you can sit in the seats and walk onto the main arena floor. As you walk through the centre of the city there are ruins all over the place. We also walked over to the old fortress which can be seen further along the coast from the amphitheatre on the other side of the beach on the cliff. To walk to the fort from the amphitheatre is about a 20-25 minute walk. La Rambla leads from a viewpoint on top of the hill on the other side of the amphitheatre (closer to the train station) to a large fountain near more ruins, it is about a 15 minute walk from one end to the other. There is also a long seaside promenade which goes from the beach below the fort back past the amphitheatre and to the other side of the train station.

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We spent the rest of our time enjoying Sitges, wandering through the town, lounging on the beach, walking the seaside promenade and drinking wine on our balcony. It was a nice relaxing end to the trip.

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Unfortunately it had to end eventually. I’m normally one of those people who never want to come home, I would love to travel forever. After watching the snow for the past 2 days I wish more than usual that I hadn’t come home and that I was still in hot, sunny, gorgeous Spain. How I miss it!

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