Thanks for clicking on the Free Barcelona Travel Guide. There are 10 chapters total, listed at the end of this post. Check out the introduction for more information.
It was J’s birthday today, which I clearly forgot until the middle of the morning. All week, I had been trying to think of a way to celebrate a birthday while on vacation and then I just forgot. Then again, we’re on vacation, the whole time is a celebration!
We thought we’d do a little shopping in the morning before catching a commuter rail-like train to Sitges. Taking advantage of our close proximity to Barcelona Cathedral, we popped in quickly in the morning and confirmed that it’s not nearly as cool as Santa Maria del Mar. There is this crazy garden in the back of the Cathedral, though, with palm trees and geese. We then headed over to Calle Petritxol to check out Xocoa. On our way, we heard a giant commotion roiling though the alleys. We got to the mouth of PlaÃ§a de Sant Jaume, only to be blocked by a giant garbage truck trying to get by 2 riot police vans. (Almost no one drives in the close alleys of The Born and Barri Gothic except for the street sweepers and garbage men and women, who seem to be cleaning nonstop). It took the garbage truck about 5 minutes to get by, which seemed like forever because I REALLY wanted to see what was going on in the square. It was impossible to tell what the people were protesting, but eventually, a group of men were let into the building and everyone cheered.
Xocoa is a chocolate boutique that sells lots of great snacks and gifts and snacks to gift. We picked up a chili chocolate bar and a few truffles that were yummy. There are a few other chocolate stores on this street, making it worth a visit.
We checked out a few more stores and then mistakenly went to 4Gats. I say mistakenly because I had talked about this as a restaurant to avoid and J had only heard me talking about it, not what I said. She thought I wanted to go there and I thought she wanted to go there. There’s a reason people need to communicate and that reason is to avoid restaurants like 4Gats. The restaurant is historic and the building interesting, but if you’re going to go, I’ve heard the coffee and dessert route is the way to go. We got the fixed price lunch menu and a chance to sit up on the balcony looking down on the main dining room. The service was friendly, but the food was awful. I got a creamy pasta starter that was the best of everything we got. J’s fish came with veggies that looked and tasted like they had been boiled for 2 days. We felt snookered, afterward, to realize that the desserts we had ordered were not part of the fixed menu as we had believed. Go here, take a picture, and then go someplace else for lunch.
We went back to our hotel and picked up our bags to go to Sitges. The train ride was about 35 minutes, and while it had been drizzly and cloudy in Barcelona, it was sunny in Sitges. We got off the train not knowing how to get to our hotel. Finding the information booth closed, we walked around Sitges, stumbled upon the Mediterranean Sea, and then lucked into finding our hotel, Parrots. After booking the hotel, I read up on Sitges and found it described as, “The internationally renowned sun-drenched gay mecca of Europe” and, “Gayer than the capital of Gayland”. I saw “Is Sitges too gay?” and, “Too gay for families?” on a couple of message boards, and whatever that means, the answer is no. Yes, there are a plethora of gay men in Sitges. Unless you’re a secretly gay Republican that pretends not to be gay by being virulently homophobic, you will have a lovely time in Sitges. That said, Parrots is a gay hotel with a sauna that just opened and J was the only woman down at breakfast, garnering a few inquisitive, but friendly looks.
We asked Douglas at the front desk where to go for dinner, and he sent us to, what he called, “The third best restaurant in Sitges”, The Beach House. It was amazing and the portions were very generous. J got the watermelon salad and baked tortelini and I got the Cesar and Tuscan chicken. Everything was fabulous and, well, fabulous.
There are 10 chapters in the Free Barcelona Travel Guide. I hope you find them useful.
Day 1: Barcelona to Boston: PlaÃ§a de Catalunya
Day 2: More Walking: Santa Maria del Mar, Picasso Museum, Ciutadella, Euskal Etxea
Day 3: Gaudi and Eating: Casa MilÃ
Day 4: More Gaudi: Parc Guell, Sagrada FamÃlia
Day 5: Sitges and Birthdays: Barcelona Cathedral, Parrots Hotel, The Beach House
Day 6: Sitges and Beach
Day 7: Sitges and Montserrat: Montserrat
Day 8: Sitges
Day 9: Too Hot to Shop: Aparthotel Calabria, La Boqueria, TapaÃ§ 24
Day 10: Montjuic: Montjuic
Map of where we went or wished we had.