A Day Well Spent in Sitges

Ian Johnson
March 14, 2015

Just twenty miles outside of Barcelona, a little slice of heaven sits on the southwest coast of Catalonia. Sitges, an old fisherman’s village, is home to world famous events such as Carnival and the Sitges Film Festival. As summer slowly announces its arrival here in Barcelona, I decided to speed things up a bit and head south to Sitges for a healthy dose of vitamin D (sun) and Omega three’s (fresh seafood, of course). 

Upon arriving in Sitges, I quickly found that I had come to the right place for both. The sun beamed down over the whitewashed buildings, lining the tidy cobblestone streets. After visiting the tourist information center just outside the train station, a large sign reading El Mercado de Sitges caught my eye. Having not eaten anything since early morning, I decided to step inside to grab a bite to eat before making my way toward the beach.

Inside the bustling market I met a local named Patrick, while waiting in line at a small tapas bar. After mentioning that I was on the lookout for an authentic and well-priced fish restaurant for lunch later on, his face lit up.

“There are many seafood restaurants here in Sitges, which makes it difficult to separate the truly authentic ones from the tourist spots,” he explained to me in Spanish. “But I have the perfect place for you.”

We left the market and veered off the main square onto a pleasant little side street, continuing to converse as we walked. Patrick explained that he had moved to Sitges twenty years ago, after leaving his home in Brazil. Before that, he had lived in Paris, France. But Sitges was his home now, and he had no plans of leaving anytime soon.

We made our way through the Upper East Side of the town, navigating through the side streets with white brick sidewalks. We finally arrived at a small little restaurant on the corner of a street named, “d’Antoni Gaudí”.

“This is a very popular spot for locals,” Patrick explained. “Tourists don’t know about this place, but you can find some of the freshest fish in town here.”

I thanked Patrick for his kindness and told him I would come back for lunch in a couple hours. He insisted it was his pleasure, and mentioned that if I wanted to skip the mid-day lunch rush, I should come before two o’clock.

“I think I’ll head here for lunch today as well,” he said in a pensive tone. “Would you like to eat together?”

Having come to Sitges by myself, I told Patrick that sounded like a great idea. We parted ways at the street corner with plans to meet for lunch at 1:30 that afternoon.

During my next three hours in Sitges, I fell in love with town. The beach was a brilliant scene, with clear blue waters and beautiful rock formations overlooking the ocean. I walked down the bustling main street along the edge of the beachfront, lined with restaurant after restaurant, each displaying “el menu del día” with pricey but equally delicious-looking seafood dishes. The street finally came to an end at a neat little roundabout, where a gorgeous church stood overlooking the ocean at the top of a long stone stairway. The scene was magnificent. I made my way to the top of the stairwell and turned to take in the view.

“This is why I came to Spain,” I told myself.

Before I knew it, it was one o’clock. I made my way back up the cobblestone side streets to the restaurant Patrick had recommended we meet. I walked in to see him sitting at a table near the entrance. We immediately picked up at where we left off earlier, discussing life in Europe and comical differences between Spanish and American culture.

Patrick insisted I order off the menu del día, which consisted of a drink, starter, main course, and dessert for twelve euro. I started with the espinica: a mouth watering cooked spinach with raisins and melted Parmesan cheese encrusting the top. This popular Spanish dish was cooked to perfection, and I savored every bite. For my main dish, I was ordered my favorite: a white fish, grilled in a light olive oil and lemon sauce. It was, hands down, the best fish I’ve tasted in Spain. Dessert was followed by la manzana al horno, a baked apple lightly drizzled with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The entire meal was delectable. Patrick covered the cost of my meal despite my consistent protest that I should be the one paying for him.

After a long lunch and great conversation, we walked along beachfront, making our way up the coastline to a steep hill leading to a club and bar that overlooked the entirety of Sitges. The sight was miraculous. An hour later, Patrick mentioned that he must be on his way, as he had an important conference call at home. I thanked him for his incredible hospitality and generosity, but he simply waved it off.

“It was my pleasure,” he said once again.

As I caught the evening train back to Barcelona, I took a moment to reflect on the day’s events. I had come to Sitges on my own, but had left with a great friend. The town was incredible in itself, but I could not help but focus on how lucky I’ve been to meet such incredible people here in Spain. There is a sincerity and kindness I have experienced while studying abroad that I did not know before traveling outside of the United States; a kindness that can powerfully reinstall your faith in the world around you.

 

 

 

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Ian Johnson

<div>I am a junior undergraduate at Indiana University&rsquo;s Kelley School of Business, majoring in Marketing &amp; International Business. I am also a member of the Kelley Consulting Workshop &mdash; a program geared toward building analysis, presentation, and teamwork capabilities for a competitive career in consulting. I am currently pursuing a career in Marketing Strategy and Brand Development. As a value-driven individual passionate about holistic health and well-being, I continue to search for new opportunities to contribute to the health and longevity of our people and planet.</div>
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Destination:
Term:
2015 Spring
Home university:
Indiana University
Major:
International Business
Marketing
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