recipes for traveling the world

Sunbathing in Sitges

Sunbathing in Sitges

Just a short drive south of Barcelona is the small beach town of Sitges. Known for its many beaches and its LGBTQIA+ friendly spaces, the city is where Spaniards go to to take a break from the city life of Barcelona. Kody and I didn’t make a conscious decision to go to Sitges. When we were researching places to stay for our visit to Barcelona, we found a nice apartment right on the water. I mean, right on the water. No beach, no barriers – the apartment complex was flush against the water built into a small rocky hill. We decided to take a few days to relax on the beach without a tourist agenda.

The drive there was short, but eventful. It was our first day with our leased car, a Citroën C3. The choice to lease a car was a stressful one for us. Originally, we imagined taking this trip and depending on the European rail system and ferries to get around. We thought we might rent cars for a couple of legs of the trip, like while we were in the UK, but the prices were exorbitant and there were a lot of travel restrictions. With some luck, I discovered that there are three French car companies that offer short-term leases on brand new cars exclusively to tourists. The price was much more reasonable over the course of our trip than rental car and trains would be (although it did raise the cost of our ferry rides).

The car looked great, but, unfortunately, was a manual transmission which meant that Kody was going to be lead driver until I learned how to drive a stick shift. It had been ten years since Kody had driven a manual and he’d never driven in Europe before, so we were thankful that our first drive was a short one.

We arrived at our Airbnb in one piece and ready to hit the beach. Our host was very nice and told us that the nearest beach was the best one in town and only a few minutes walk from the apartment. She left out one important fact, but we’ll get to that…

We threw on our swimsuits and set out along the coast. The way to the beach led us through a yacht club and a small shopping area. We climbed up some stairs and came to a viewing platform that looked right over the sand and water. The way down was easy enough and we settled down on the sand. The weather was still a bit chilly. After coming off a cruise through the Caribbean, we were expecting warmer weather, but it was mid-May and we had to stay in the sunlight to keep from getting too chilly. Most of the other beach goers, however, were not concerned with chill.

The occasional topless woman on a European beach is no surprise, but as we started to glance around our surroundings more closer we noticed a lot more… skin. Almost everyone on the beach was completely nude. And male. Our host had guided us directly to a gay nude beach. It didn’t seem to be too exclusive though as there were women around, some people wearing bits of suits, and even families with small children.

We were too excited to be on the beach to leave, so we didn’t.

At one point, Kody decided to take a stroll along the beach. Lucky him, he ended up coming upon two of our cruise dinnermates – one of them completely nude. No one expects to run into someone they know at a nude beach! They exchanged in pleasantries and Kody managed to keep his gaze at eye-level.

After laying out for a bit, we set out to explore the town. Our stay in Sitges was short, just the day we drove in and one more full day, so we wanted to see as much as we could. Unfortunately, due to a technical error, I’ve lost most of our pictures of Sitges. Not the best one though. You’ll see.

Further down the coast we found the downtown area and the mainstream beaches. And by “mainstream” I mean topless, but not bottomless. There was a large pedestrian walking area along the beach with wide sidewalks and cafes with outdoor seating. We found a grocery store and loaded up on supplies (read: beer) and headed back to our apartment to freshen up for dinner.

For dinner, we made our way back downtown – a beautiful walk along the coast – and settled on a place with Cuban inspired fare. We’re meal sharers regularly and even more so on this trip because we’re trying to be budget conscious. It also means we get to try more food because we don’t eat too much! The meal we shared was arroz a la cubana and it was delicious. Well-seasoned black beans, red mojo sauce, fluffy rice and fried bananas. It was so flavorful that we barely spoke while we ate. Just passed our plate back and forth pausing every once in a while to take in the view.

Dessert was a bottle of cava on the beach in the moonlight. I know. Seriously romantic, right? Well, it would have been, had we not chosen a spot so close to a homeless encampment.

The walk back to the apartment at night was cool and really lovely. The bed was much more comfortable than the one we had in Barcelona, so we were looking forward to a good night’s rest.

We woke up the next day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to explore more of the quiet coastal town of Sitges. But, first, the beach. One thing I didn’t know about Kody prior to this trip was just how much he loves the beach. He’s a laying-out addict!

Since it was the closet to our apartment and considerably less busy then the other beaches (no idea why), we went back to the nude beach. After selecting our spots, I started reading a book on my phone. Kody was watching the waves crash in and we made sure we both had plenty of sunscreen on. Although we had both come on the beach with our suits on and planning to relax clothed as we had done the day before, I looked over at Kody between chapters and saw him swipe his shorts off! There he sat. Nude. On the beach. In Spain. It was like having a butterfly land on you. I didn’t want to say anything to break the moment. It was really cool and seemed wild, even though almost every other person on the beach was naked. He laid out in all his glory until we were ready for lunch. This is your warning that the next picture has Kody’s bum in it. (Shared with unabashed permission by its owner.)

I didn’t partake myself because, sand.

We are creatures of habit and we like what we like, so lunch this day was dinner from the night before. We revisited the same restaurant and ordered the same thing. It was just as good, but our waiter was less cute than the previous one. Can’t win ’em all.

The entire city of Sitges is lined with coast. It’s separated into different beaches, but they’re all connected. We set out to walk the entire coastline to the far end of the city. We walked a couple of miles before deciding to turn back and take the wide sidewalk rather than the beach. Our calves were extremely grateful. The beachfront houses were everything they should’ve been – huge, colorful, and unique from one another. We started planning our summer home in Sitges on the way back.

Following a long day with a lot of sun, we took it easy in the evening making dinner from picnic items we had at the apartment. Sitges, although originally not part of our itinerary, felt like a perfect stay. We left tanner and happier than we had arrived.

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