¡Sitges Edition! these are a FEW of my favorite things #2
because you wanted a little diversion, not a part-time job
I don’t know about you, but I get very overwhelmed by long-ass lists:
TWENTY BEST Places to Eat…!
55 PRODUCTS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT!!
The 101 Books You MUST Read Before YOU DIE!!!
No, thanks. Even 10 can be a bit much sometimes.
Here are a FEW of my favorite things, because that’s how the song goes…
Sitges is a laid-back little beach town about 30 minutes by train southwest of Barcelona, population 30K. It’s called the St. Tropez of Spain, although that might be overstating the case slightly—it feels more like a fishing village turned summer playground for Catalan locals and English-speaking retirees. You’ll find no million-euro yachts and luxury boutiques (the only recognizable shops are Benetton and Lacoste) but by the same token, there’s not a McDonald’s or Starbucks in sight.
It does have a big city festival schedule that packs in the tourists every year: a VERY robust Carnival, TWO gay Bear Week/ends (May & Sept), Pride Parade (June), Fiesta Major (Aug) and Santa Tecla (Sept) with amazing fireworks displays (sorry pet friends!) and the internationally famous “Sitges Fantastic Film Festival” (i.e, horror and fantasy/speculative films) in October, complete with zombie parade. “Rey Kong” is our unofficial town mascot.
Sitges—pronounced like “beaches”—easy, no? We’ve lived here now for three years, and it is pretty fab.
Sitges, its beaches, and its iconic Church of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla de Sitges. On a stormy winter day. This just might be the best pic I’ve ever taken.
The Biblioteca Santiago Rusiñol—the public library—is surprisingly robust for a small town, dominated by a sweet central atrium that runs up the three floors of mostly Spanish and Catalan books, including the private collection of the namesake artist, a leader in the Catalan modernisme movement (Art Nouveau, think Gaudi) who deserves a LOOK.
There is a very small but interesting collection of English-language novels, with some solid names I’m looking forward to sampling: Sally Rooney, Zadie Smith, J. M. Coetzee, Rachel Cusk, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Khaled Hosseini, Kazuo Ishiguro. I stumbled on Lucia Berlin here, and fell in love with her humor and heartbreak. They only have subscriptions to two English magazines, but The New Yorker is one of them, so I’m good. (Time is the other, which I haven’t read in years.)
I love the current exhibition of chalk drawings by local artists called “Una Monada” which in Catalan means “a cutie”—a double entendre because “mono” also means monkey. Strictly speaking, many of these are actually apes, not monkeys, in keeping with our local mascot.
Chiringuitos are beach bars, and “El Chiringuito—desde 1913” in Sitges is supposed to be the first one in Spain. A tradition imported from the Caribbean by the newly-rich Indianos (Spanish immigrants to the Americas who brought their wealth back to Spain in the late-19th/early 20th century—our most famous Indiano was Facundo Bacardí of rum fame, although technically he never came back to the area,) these were originally coffee huts on beaches near sugar and coffee plantations where the workers would take their breaks.
Most of the chiringuitos are seasonal; they lay down planks and platforms directly on the sand of the beaches in April, and build a hut to serve drinks and tapas until Octoberish. Last year there was a horrible uproar over the number of chiringuitos that got permits (very few)—something to do with not dumping fresh sand on the beaches due to environmental damage and turtle habitats, something something—but this year they are back in force.
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I was transported into your world, my friend. How do you do that with words and images! Also your beach photograph is incredible. It looks surreal!