The world could learn a lot from the town of Sitges. What I perceived as a ghetto of hedonistic, holidaying, gay folk whose partying and two weeks in the sun got in the way of residents lives was completely shattered after my first visit. Instead, this picture postcard, seaside town is a melting pot of all walks of life and I am completely infatuated with it. Sit on the main street, especially in summer, and you will see couples of all persuasions taking a stroll, old people walking dogs, groups of holiday friends, babies in buggies and screaming toddlers. And of course there are the well turned out fellas whose saunter past wafts their cologne in your direction which leaves an after-taste on your tongue and curious of where their night is going to take them. This is a truly mixed bag of harmonious living (although I’m not naive enough to think this is always the case). Take note Uganda!
My love of this place means any visitors in town now get the obligatory trip on the train to spend the day there. It’s worth noting that this is not just a summer resort. Whilst it is of course more jumping in the summer and at times you’ll struggle to get on the beach, this is not a town that completely shuts down out of season and is equally enjoyable in the cooler months.
The train drops you straight in the centre of town, and the station looks stunning in the summer as the bougainevillea hangs over the walls adjoining the tracks. From here you can leisurely take in the quaint streets, boutiques and gift shops and try and resist the temptations of some of the several patisseries. Being Easter when I last went it was still too chilly for a swim but at least stick those feet in the ocean for a paddle. With many cafés and restaurants to choose from and without any recommendations it was difficult to know where to satisfy our hunger. Some fine looking paella at La Costa Dorada finally lured us in. Looking out onto the San Sebastian beach this was a perfect setting for taking in the ocean and doing a favourite pastime of mine, people watching. At 17€ each for the paella we plumped for the menu del día at 25€ which also gave us a starter platter to share, dessert, drink and bread. Who could turn down an offer like that?
The starters missed the photographs, we were famished and got stuck straight in to the plate of calamars, croquetes and the xato salad I could’ve happily eaten more of and forfeited the rest of the meal. Xato is a salad of salt cod, served here with bitter frisée lettuce, olives and romesco sauce. However, that wasn’t all and a large pan of mussels in tomato sauce arrived, tender and juicy in a creamy tomato sauce that was soaked up by the bread.
We probably could’ve stopped there but the star performer was on it’s way. I’ve never had a paella since I’ve been here, always suspicious of their authenticity and tourists connotations. I should probably stop being such a snob. A steaming dish of saffron rice with mussels, clams, prawns, langoustines and peas landed on our table so we took a deep-breath to aid our starters’ digestion and got stuck in. Heavenly marine flavours and the perfectly cooked rice (although lacking the true paella crust on the bottom) was so good we fought off our increasingly stuffed stomachs to finish.
Thankfully desserts were of a much lighter note and we both chose the Catalan staple crema catalana. Similar to the neighbouring French crème brulée and our lesser known ‘burnt custard’, this is spiked with cinnamon and lemon flavours and has a satisfying crack to get into it. Not overly sweet or filling after the feast prior this was a perfect end to the meal. And to end a post about Sitges here’s a photo that captures the perfect end to a day there. La Costa Dorada, Playa San Sebastian 27, Sitges