Rastro Flea Market


So one of the things that I love to do when traveling is to get a dose of REAL LIVING in a city and that usually entails going to a local market or to a flea market. I fiddled through my Rick Steves travel book and read something about the Rastro Flea Market. I know that in the past, I have seen lots of awesome antiques that you only hear about. Being that I was in Spain and knowing that the Spaniards dominated history along with the Portuguese during the Age of Exploration, I was bound to find some cool history stuff floating around, or so I thought.

I got up super early in the morning and walked all the way to Rastro Flea Market from La Latina neighborhood. It took me a good 20 minutes to get there because I got turned around a little. On the way there, I passed a local corner bar. I had to laugh hard to myself because I saw a couple guys heeled over at the bar looking like they passed out or were literally just waking up. One of the guys was dressed up in a flamenco costume with a slit that exposed his really hairy legs. His buddies were wearing fedora hats and keeping their bachelor friend afloat. Also, he had a beard that would put a pirate to shame. These guys must have been at a bachelor party and they “fiesta’d” ALL NIGHT LONG! I remember on my walk around the streets, I saw lots of empty beer cans. On top of that, I saw a drugged out couple that were getting hot and heavy at around 7:00 AM. They were completely out of it. You had to be there! Every morning in Madrid, it is not strange to see street cleaners cleaning up tons of bottles and cans. There is also a smell of urine and stale beer, the usual. I still don’t let that bother me. I LOVE MADRID!

IMG_2904

I finally came up to a long street where I saw tent stands. The locals were definitely out and I was one of the few tourists with camera in hand. As I strolled along, I got the realization that there was a lot of cheesy items. If anyone could capture the disappointment on my face, it would have been priceless. I would compare it to a small kid eating a delicious ice cream cone, only for it to completely plop off the sugar cone and onto the pavement. I really felt like I was going to waste my time, but I was still optimistic. I saw scarves, a few cheap looking antiques and felt like I had seen all of this kind of tchotchke stuff in other countries. I even recall picking something up and seeing that it was made in China. There were the touristy Spanish fans, T-shirts and leather goods. I’ve seen the same spread in Argentina at the San Telmo market. I was able to snap a few cool shots though.

IMG_2908

I felt like I was in a B rated film when I was watching all kinds of locals buying super cheap things. But then again, I had to also remind myself that Spain is going through a lot of economic hardship. I saw people buying spoons, plastic containers, cheap pots and pans and all kinds of little things for their apartments or flats.

IMG_2910

IMG_2911

IMG_2913

Honestly, I would skip the flea market, or literally do a walk through and then just go check out something more interesting like a church tour, a museum tour. Just don’t plan on buying anything. Maybe you can score cheap postcards or flags, but I wouldn’t count on anything super interesting. I don’t want to be cynical, but I felt like my time could have been spent somewhere else. Just remember not to make this a main event for your day.

IMG_2914

So, I don’t like to pick up “touristy” things, but I do regret that I did not get one of these posters, specifically a Flamenco one with my name. I would have loved to have put this in my classroom! Oh well….gives me another time to come visit Spain to buy one!

IMG_2915


IMG_2916

IMG_2917

This stand had  every little kitsch thing you could imagine that you would find at the airport or at a gift shop. If I was ambitious enough, I would have bartered and found out how much certain little things were to gauge other prices at gift shops just to get a real idea of how much price gouging takes place at the local gift shops. I didn’t bother.

A Couple Days in Sevilla Spain


June 5th sevilla: woke up at 8 am. Almost had breakfast at a fish place, believe it or not! Was so excited to try the place because there were a ton of locals, but when I arrived, it was a fish restaurant! Thank goodness for my basic Spanish. Instead I looked for a place that would serve bakery goods. Went to Historico Horno (bakery). I had a pan de tomato y queso (bread with tomato and cheese) and a cafe con leche. The lady behind the counter was all business and not really friendly, but I understand her work ethic. People are not at this bakery in the morning for a worker that is yapping too much. People want to sit down, eat and get to work. Besides, the Spanish have siesta. This means later on that customer can come back and actually have a conversation, sip coffee, eat something, go home and take a nap and then get back to business. I admire this practice and tradition!  I loved sitting at the bar and watching all the different pastries being called out in Spanish. It was a great Spanish lesson for me. I started recognizing all the different pastries and sandwiches and were calling them out in my head. Yes, I’m silly like that. A lot of bread with just olive oil was ordered, which surprised me. I guess when you live in a country that has phenomenal olive oil, then simple and fantastic ingredients make sense like fresh bread and olive oil. I even saw a guy sprinkle a little pinch of salt on his bread.

IMG_1150

I scooted over for a couple guys on my left. The locals were getting ready to go to work and I was making sure that I wasn’t the “stupid” and “annoying” tourist. It was a sunny day and based on the conversations that I heard, it was going to be a sweltering hot day. Went upstairs to use the restroom before I was off and enjoyed seeing some displays of jamon serrano legs and olive oils etc.

IMG_1147

By the way, the word “Alimentation” means market. I figured this out through observation in Madrid, Toledo and now Sevilla. After I left Historico Horno, I sat at Plaza Nueva. I walked around the plaza and even ventured through some random streets. I had scheduled a tour of Sevilla with a lovely lady named Concepcion at 10:00 AM. She never showed. Then I looked again at my email and noticed that she was meeting us at 10:30 AM. Concepcion was recommended by my Rick Steves book and her tour was well worth it! While I was waiting, I saw some guys roller skate by that were dressed up as fawns. Wish I got a picture of that!

IMG_3058

Went on tour with Concepcion. She discussed the history of the 3 kings of Sevilla. When you walk around you will see a symbol everywhere. I think I recall seeing this symbol on a bench, a man hole cover and on several buildings. The symbol that you will see is a word “No8d0”. I listened intensively to the tour, but I was caught up with looking at so much detail I forgot what the real meaning behind the symbol was. I did catch something along the lines that it translates to “no medegar do” and means something like “you didn’t abandon me”.  As you look at the architecture around Sevilla, you’ll notice 1920’s style buildings with a mixture of Renaissance influence, Moorish buildings and even Baroque accents throughout. It’s an architecture & art  lesson waiting to be told and explained in depth. So if you are a sucker for detail, Sevilla has a lot of stories to be told.
IMG_1153
While we were strolling around listening to Concepcion’s stories, she mentioned habits of the people of Sevilla and Spain. Spanish people save up their money and buy clothing around December and July. July is the “Rebajas” month or “Sale” month to shop. You can see clothing being reduced to almost 70% off! While we were passing by the windows of shops, we saw a person making tassles for curtains, the old school way. As a form of measurement, these guys were walking back and forth with the tassle string for a concise measurement. Hard to explain, you just had to watch them.
IMG_3157
La Juderia” is a must see area of Sevilla. The Jewish Quarters are defined by a large standing wall. It’s like Venice, Italy in the sense that you just see crowds of people wandering around together, getting lost. If you stick close to the walls that enclose this area, you’ll be able to figure how to get out. When the Catholic Kings took over during the course of Reconquista, they allowed for Jewish people to convert. They gave them 4 months to convert or their fate ended up in torture or death. You can figure out what most of the Jewish families did. Most of them practiced Judaism secretly, but were even scared to do that. If you follow the large walls, you will eventually run right smack into the Alcazar (summer palace of the Sultan) that is built in mudajer style. I can’t tell you how much of a surprise this place was me. I have to say that I might have enjoyed the Alcazar more than the famous Sevilla Cathedral. I’ll write more about these lovely places in a different post. Too much to comment on.
IMG_3193
IMG_3202
IMG_3090
If there a color to associate to Sevilla, the color orange comes is their official color. Still today, when I think of Sevilla, orange or “naranja” will forever stay in my mind. I saw women wearing beautiful tangerine color clothing, especially skirts. I saw a pair of orange espadrilles for sale in a fashion display. I saw lots of orange paint in the Alcazar, in the detailed tile work and in many paintings in the Catholic Cathedral. Also, the streets are lined with orange trees EVERYWHERE! And even though the oranges and large and look refreshing, you cannot eat them. They are according to the Sevillans, “sour as hell”. Concepcion also mentioned that in the month of December, tourists get orange bombed in large numbers. The orange trees produce really heavy oranges and they just snap right off the tree and onto tourists heads. Of course if you are an avid and professional “people watcher”, this would be the event of a lifetime to watch!
IMG_3174
IMG_3179
Even the gazpacho, the tablecloth and even my beer had hues of orange
IMG_3048
I met a lot of cool people on the tour and ended up swapping emails and contact info. I ended up meeting with a few of the people on the tour later that day. But, I felt like I needed to sit and take in all the information that I learned and saw quietly somewhere. I wandered around the streets and found a cute cafe that had an alleyway. I sat in the alleyway and ordered a cafe con leche and some jamon iberico and pan con tomate y aceite de olivos (bread with tomato and olive oil). I sat and observed people’s eating and socializing habits. Occasionally, I received a sad stare from a few people and I could tell that they were thinking…”Oh, how sad…she is by herself” What was I thinking? THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!! I have absolute and complete freedom and I was on my own time and my own dime! I enjoyed every second, minute and hour of my leisurely time. For those of you that have a hard time enjoying quiet time to yourself, challenge yourself to sit, watch and think. You’d be surprised what you pick up on in regards to human nature and habits! ENJOY!
IMG_1137

Cordoba, A Real Local Feel of Spain


So Cordoba is a really small town, or at least I felt that way when I was there for two days. It’s a local experience and if you want to feel like you live in Spain, I would imagine that this place fits the bill. The charm of the town is in the people, the local shops, the local foods, and the old buildings that have so much history. I stayed in Old Town, so I really don’t know what it is like to travel outside in the other parts of Cordoba, so my view is very biased. I imagine that there are beautiful villas in the countryside with olive & pomegranate trees and even vineyards. I hope to go back to Cordoba with a rental car in the future.

IMG_3228

IMG_3227

I stopped at a local  bakery really close to La Mezquita and close to my hotel. As soon as I entered and sat down at the bar stool, everyone stared at me. I purchased a bocadillo with ham for 5 euros. The ham was a little tough, but I was happy to feel like a local for at least 20 minutes. I saw the owners talk to each person as they came in. I just wish I could pick up on some of the conversations. I picked up a few words about the weather, but that was about it. Although I love traveling alone, there are those moments, when you feel alone and Cordoba made me feel that way. Because everyone seemed to know each other in town and especially around the shops close to La Mezquita, I started to wish I had friends or family with me.

I think my loneliness started to set in when I realized that siesta does occur in Cordoba and things don’t open up till 12:30 pm. From what I gathered, shops opened up around 5:00 PM as well. I still till this very day, don’t know the actual times when stores opened up when I was in Cordoba for two days. The siesta made me lazy and I didn’t feel like doing much at all. I was however interested in taking photos wherever I could. I packed my camera bag and wandered and literally got lost in the side alleyways and corridors and cobblestone roads in the mystic old town areas.  I had heard that Cordoba had beautiful patios, so I thought I would go and see what I could find. I found a lot of cool things to photograph in the La Juderia (Jewish Quarters). The buildings were close together practically hugging each other and on each corner there was something mysterious or fun to photograph.

IMG_3230

IMG_3242

IMG_3348

IMG_3256

IMG_3252

As I got more into the siesta mode, I just liked the quiet and calm of staying in Old Town. Once La Mezquita closes down, the area that surrounds La Mezquita gets REALLY QUIET. So for some of you that like more night life, I would recommend that you stay around Plaza Del Colon. For those of you that love to shop and people watch, you can do that around Plaza Del Colon as well. I sat down at a cafe and had a cup of coffee, a pastry and then even a tinto de verano. I sat at that cafe for at least 3 hours. I watched people smoke cigarettes, feed little scraps of food to their dogs. I watched little kids kick a soccer ball back and forth. I just sat and journaled and enjoyed EVERY MOMENT OF IT!

IMG_3239

IMG_1236

It’s so refreshing to see the relaxed nature of everyone in this town. The easy going flow of this town allowed for me to decompress, to think about my present and my future.

IMG_3346

Walk…..just walk and be. You’ll find all kinds of cool things to experience. I loved walking into small shops that specialized in breads, meats and candies. I remember walking into a cute little candy shop that made marzipan and chocolate. A mom was letting her little child pick out the cute little fruit shaped marzipan candies. The smile on this kid’s face was priceless.

IMG_3236

IMG_3235

There are so many other things to say about this town, but go and experience it for yourself!

IMG_3293

Visiting La Mezquita in Cordoba Spain


IMG_3335

July 7th: woke up early for free admission to La Mezquita . If you wake up early, then you can go to the church and get in for free (Gratis!) Make sure you are dressed to be respectful. Ladies, this means, wearing a shawl or something that covers up your shoulders. Also, make sure if you are wearing a dress or skirt that is longer than the knee or just above it. Always be a good ambassador. They are strict here, which I appreciate. Guys, you should wear pants or slacks and a t-shirt, no tanks.

IMG_3263

Waking up early and touring La Mezquita was awesome!!! It was everything I expected and more. The left side of cathedral had better lighting for openings in the ceiling that the Christian Kings put in later during the time of the Reconquista. You could see older arches and newer arches stacked upon each other. Just to give a quick history lesson, the visigoths (a Germanic tribe) were in Cordoba first, then the Muslims (Moors) came and lastly the Christian Kings kicked the Moors out. So, as you can see this building has been through A LOT! It was bewildering to see the beautiful Islamic style arches and then walk around and see Catholic carvings and pictures of Jesus. The Mihrab was stunningly beautiful painted with shiny golds and hunter green shades. I could see moon shapes and flower shapes in many of the panels. You have to note that these panels and spaces were hand painted by many individuals and are painstakingly lovely. A Mihrab is an opening in the wall or a niche that is pointing towards Mecca, so it is a very important part of the building. If you were to make comparisons, it would be like walking into a Catholic Cathedral and walking towards the altar. When standing in front of a Mihrab, you will see more etches and intricate designs that go into the wall. You may even see beautiful tile work or Arabic writings if you look really closely into the designs in the ceiling part of the Mihrab.

IMG_3301

IMG_3304

Barely anyone was inside which made my experience better. Daily routines for maintenance were taking place early in the morning before flocks of tourists came in. There was a man cleaning the floor with a zamboni machine. I had to step aside so that he could clean the floors to shine. I was in the building for more than an hour. A early morning Catholic mass was taking place. There were speaker phones that were attached to several columns and I decided to go and stand right next to one. I didn’t feel brave enough to go and sit at mass. I feel like if I knew my Spanish a bit more, I could listen along and know when to be respectful. What a trip to listen to a Catholic mass that used to be a mosque. Talk about cultural diffusion! It is a surreal and mystical experience. For just a minute, I felt as if all the religions of the world had no hostilities and that every religion in the world was on the same page. This mosque has its religious differences set aside, because they kept the beautiful parts of the Catholic Church and they kept the exquisite parts of the mosque.

IMG_3295

Walking around, there is just so much detail to absorb and to feel. I had to touch some of the columns to try and feel what this building had gone through in history. It amazed me that this building had gone through several hands in history, yet maintained a quiet and serene and pristine beauty. Before I left, an Australian lady was so kind enough to take a photo of me inside the cathedral with the beautiful pink and creme arches. We exchanged a quick conversation and we both agreed that it was a spiritual and reflective experience to walk around with only less than 10 people inside. I finally decided to go outside and sit in the sun. I felt a sense of completion and purpose. I was exposed to these beautiful arches of Cordoba when teaching my AP World history students about the Ummayad and Abbasid dynasty almost 7 or 8 years ago. Something about the arches, haunted me and drew me in to its enticing story. The arches were so perfect, so geometric and so simple, yet they inspired me to travel to Spain. Kids that I have taught still taunt and tease me about the arches. I was able to tell them that I actually went and saw them!

IMG_3282

As I sat outside, girls were getting denied at door for not having shawls. This was the first place that enforced this rule and I appreciated this. I witnessed some small birds, possibly swallows flying around like a swarm of bats. At one point, I thought that maybe the birds were bats and still I have yet to answer that. I sat close to a water fountain and watched the local people and tourists hang out by it to be purposely splashed with water because of the escalating heat. It gets REALLY hot in Cordoba. There was some kind of bell device attached to the water fountain that made chiming noises and many people were videotaping it, including myself. Cordoba, is definitely a place that feels local. You can tell who is a tourist, who is a student and who lives there. I wasn’t used to the change in pace since I had come from bustling Madrid and Sevilla, but now when I think back and reflect on my experience, I would go back and enjoy it all over again. One more thing to note, is to go and check out the outside facade of the building as the day progresses with the sun placement. The light and dark of the day bring about a feeling as if the building is still alive and breathing. I can’t explain it, you just have to go and see it throughout the day. Oh…and if you get hungry, go eat a slice of Spanish tortilla (egg, potato & onion) at Bar Santos, you will thank me later.

IMG_3260

Fabulous Fish Display in Madrid


Fish & Hot Pepper with logo

Found this lovely monkfish with a pepper in its mouth while doing my daily walk on Calle Cava Baja in Madrid! I appreciate oddities wherever I travel and this goes in my book as one of the most RAW & RED statements EVER! Take This!

I was so lucky to stay next to Calle Cava Baja. You really feel the energy of people when walking on this street around the evening time. People are clinking their glasses of tinto de verano and red wine while conversing in exciting conversations. Spaniards love to travel in groups of 4 or 5, or at least that is what I picked up. Age was not a factor at all! I saw people in their 20’s to 30’s socializing with 50 and 60 year olds. How beautiful is that? Go check this street out and life will course through your veins.

Jaleo Dining Experience and the Cosmopolitan: Las Vegas


The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas is one of the premier newbie hotels that is getting a lot of attention and traffic in their hotel. The big buzz is the massive 3 story draping chandelier that glitters with dazzling sparkle. At first, I thought the chandelier was all cut glass, but as my friend took a closer look on the third floor, she touched the strand. The chandelier appeared to be made out of plastic. Still pretty though!

EAT

If you are going to eat a the Cosmopolitan, many of the famous restaurants get booked. With Vegas, you never know if it is a busy week with a Convention or event. Reservations are always recommended. Here is a list of the restaurants at the Cosmopolitan.

  1. Comme Ca: French Brasserie: Celebrity Chef: Los Angeles David Meyers
  2. Estiatorio Milos: Mediterranean Seafood: Celebrity Chef: Greek Born Costas Spiliadis
  3. Jaleo: Spanish Tapas: Celebrity Chef: Spanish born Jose Andres
  4. Holsteins: Natural & Organic Cuisine: Burgers are the emphasis here
  5. Scarpetta: Italian: Celebrity Chef: Scott Canant
  6. STK: Steakhouse: Celebrity Chef: Stephen Hopcraft

There are a lot more dining experiences with their more casual approach to dining if cost is an issue. You can always lounge it up as well and enjoy a colorful and classy act. We lucked out and saw a beautiful Big Brass Band 1940’s style! There was definitely a crowd that was mesmerized by this 40’s beauty. I asked my friend why women wandered away from this type of beauty! She was stunning and her band members were full of swag and smiles. If you enjoy the Andrew Sisters or appreciate history, you’ll love this lounge act. This music gets you in the mood to drink a dirty martini. There were a couple men smoking cigars with Cheshire Cat smiles.

If you are in the mood for shopping the Cosmopolitan is not really the place to shop. There are a few shops, but nothing like the Venetian or Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops. I would say that the shopping is geared towards a trendy 30 or 40 year old. The famous London based All Saints Spitalfields is worth taking a look at. They had beautiful women’s tops that were 100% hand embellished. The shop has a strong Euro feel and the display case in front of the store is worth appreciated. The window display has a collection of hundreds of antique Singer sewing machines. The articles of clothing are quite pricey ranging from about $270 for a shirt to $695 for a beautiful dress or some very expensive pants. The store carries both women’s and men’s clothing.

My friend and I decided to re-live our moments back in Spain by visiting self acclaimed Jose Andres’ restaurant Jaleo. I have great interest in Jose Andres since he studied with controversial chef Ferran Adria of Elbulli. Jose Andres has a festive personality and also has a show on PBS called Made in Spain.  He has made numerous appearances on travel shows including Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and On the Road: Spain.  He embraces everything about his beautiful country of Spain and shows extreme pride in his cooking. He boasts vivid colors and is experimental with the pairing of different ingredients to compose a colorful palette of taste in your mouth. He is full of life and creation! My friend and I made reservations for 5:00 P.M. at Jaleo. We knew that we would get better service and that we could take our time if we arrived this early. We were able to walk around the restaurant and snap photos to our delight. We had a great conversation with our server Spencer who had traveled to Spain and reminisced about his lovely experiences in the land of fiesta.

DINE

The first thing you are hit with is the color and eclectic patterns in the restaurant. You see vibrant reds, tangerine colors, lime greens that perk up anyone who feels a bit tired. Your server will bring you a alcohol and wine list via ipad. There was a button to press if you are feeling risky and adventurous for wine or cocktails. You press the button on the ipad and it does a roulette and chooses some wines or alcohol for you and your party. We went old school and ordered a carafe of sangria which will pour your 2 glasses each for a couple. The carafe cost $25.00. The sangria is poured into bucket glasses and is spruced up with a sprig of mint, a chunk of watermelon, accompanied with zesty slices of orange and lemon and has a sprinkle of cinnamon.

APPETIZERS

  • Pan Con Tomate: This is bread that is toasted. They then rub tomato and garlic onto the bread
  • Jamon Iberico: Prime Top Quality salted pork. This is not your typical pork. Jamon Iberico comes from a Spanish Black pig that eats acorns (bellotas). The jamon iberico slice is different from other salted pork because it glistens and sweats when you look at the slices. Also the slice of jamon iberico has a nutty flavor that you don’t experience with other salted porks. It is the best of its kind. At Jaleo the slices are few and between, but at least they have the prized meat in the U.S. now. The slices were served on wood carving board. Ran about $18. Place the slice on a pan con tomate and roll your eyes back into your head as your mouth has a party.

APPETIZERS ROUND TWO:

  • Escalivada Catalana: Roasted red peppers, eggplant, & sweet onions drizzled with sherry dressing. This dish was very colorful. You can eat everything on the plate including the flower petals. This dish reminds me of the careful plating & instruction that Jose Andres received while training and cooking at Elbulli. The eggplant looked like slices of eel or sardines. The dish was light tasting and full of pepper flavor. I loved eating a bite of the pepper, eggplant, onion and parsley. It all just melted in my mouth.

APPETIZER ROUND 3:

  • Croquetas con Jamon Iberico: This was a special for the night and was not on the menu. Our server Spencer recommended this lovely item. The Croquetas had bits of Jamon iberico inside. As you bite into the croqueta, the texture is creamy and there is a delightful crunch.
  • Datiles Con Tocino “como hace todo el mundo”: This dish was a definite finger food of dates wrapped in bacon and served with a apple mustard sauce. You pop them in your mouth and the dates flavor continues to prolong in your mouth with each bite.
  • Patatas Bravas: Jaleo’s Interpretation is very different here. For people who are used to chunky bits of potatoes served with allioli sauce, you might be a little disappointed. Jaleo’s version are light potato chips topped with a spicy pepper sauce and aioli. I was expecting them to be hot, but they were cold. I will have to admit, these chips were good and light, but I am a traditionalist. I was expecting chunky potatoes.

MAIN COURSE:

So my friend and I had some amazing paella in Spain. We ordered a paella that was recommended to us by our waiter. There is a disclaimer on the menu that says if you are going to order paella, that you must tell the server ahead of time as it takes 45 minutes to prepare. Why you might ask? They have a paella station that is out in the open where you can watch them fire and grill ingredients on an open fire. The chefs of the paella station use real wood to fire up the rice pan. On the other side you can see a chef grilling veggies and meat a la plancha (on the grill). If you look at the picture below, the paella station is off to the far right. When your paella is finished, all the chefs and people in the restaurant yell “Paella”. We ordered the paella that had several seasonal summer vegetables. I would like to say that I was excited about the paella, but I was disappointed by it. It wasn’t zesty yellow like Spanish paella that has large amounts of saffron. We should have ordered the paella that had shrimp and mussels and scallops. I’m not sure if it was on the menu. The portion was really small for two people, but we had a lot to eat so it balanced out. It was a bummer way to end the meal, but then again I have to think that I was comparing this paella to Spanish paella in Spain. I recommend trying another paella on the menu. I did mention to the server that I was disappointed and I could tell he felt kind of bad.  But overall, it was a great experience and I enjoyed having this dinner with my friend. Definitely check it out. Our bill was $119.

Other Snapshots of Jaleo & the Cosmopolitan

Private Dining room with a Dim Sum Table at Jaleos

Table Arrangements on the Outside Seating Area

MOOOOOCHAS Gracias Jaleo! Buen Provecho!

Sipping Sangria in Sitges Spain


Say it five times FAST..Sipping Sangria in Sitges Spain! GO………………………………………………

While traveling in Spain, a beach day or two is a MUST! Having a chance to have a little R & R from the walking around, achy feet and exhaustion from not speaking fluent Spanish is a FANTASTIC idea! Sitges, Spain was highly recommended by a few people we met in Barcelona. You can take the RENFE train from Barcelona. Most trains depart from the Passeig De Gracia train stop. It can be about a 45 minute train ride and cost about 4 Euros (about $5).

Sitges is a cute Boutiquish beach town tucked away and hugging the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Sitges is a gay friendly town and hosts a lively gay pride party that runs from July 5th to the 9th. You will see rainbow flags around the town and many gay friendly bars. During the summer Sitges hosts a lot of travelers and sun seekers who want to get away from noisy Barcelona to get their tan on.

Hotels can be moderate to expensive depending on the time that you go. My friend and I decided to stay in Sitges for about 3 days and it was a very good decision. We paid about $120 a night and split the cost, so $60 is not bad for a sudden beach vacation. You can look for pensiones in Sitges which are much more cost efficient for that budget traveler. The pensiones are very modest with minimal amenities. Keep in mind that most of us are traveling to get out and go see things and to do things, so pensiones are the way to go to save those pennies.

So transport yourself to walking around curvy & windy streets. You hear the crashing of waves and people laughing on the beach. A vespa whirs right past you. You walk past local hole in the wall bars where you hear the clinking of glasses filled with bubbling cava and see in depth interesting conversations taking place that may have been going on for hours. There are Rebaja signs everywhere that stimulate the tourists to shop till they drop. In the little shops you will run into lots of white dresses, you will also see skirts and pants displayed in the windows with summer espadrilles and strappy, flashy sandals. It’s easy to get lost into the magical spirit of Sitges.

If you are in the mood to learn something educational while drinking a cocktail in style then go check out Casa Bacardi. Of course this seems like an oxymoron, but Casa Bacardi takes you through their beautiful building to teach you about their special rum proprietor who made it big in the business. They also teach you how to make some cuba libres and mojitos, a skill worth having so that you can entertain your guests!

Source: sitgescb.cat

Source: tripadvisor.co.uk

Source: vi-franc.blogspot.com

We found a fantastic restaurant that roasted chickens in the entrance to entice you to come in. Needless to say, we went into this restaurant. They serve pizzas, appetizers, salads, and most of your traditional spanish homestyle dishes. This place really made us feel welcome. The staff (guys) were very nice to us and their service was impeccable. They recognized us each time we strolled by on our way to a shop or when we were going to the bar or the beach. Go here if you want to feel like you are being served a hot meal that feels like mom made it. Don’t know the name, but you will see the roasting chickens and you will smell the golden crispiness and chicken juices that are sizzling.

Other places that you will definitely see while strolling along is a restaurant called Los Vikingos. This place was great for my friend and I because the environment was open, clean and reasonable. I picked up a long black summer dress and spruced it up with some accessories, my friend did the same. We ordered a large carafe of sangria and went all out. We ordered jamon iberico, pan con tomate, a salad, paella, mussels and topped it off with a dessert and coffee. We ordered a nightcap of sangria and kept on ordering it! I love how they give you a large wooden spoon to stir up the sangria. By the way, free wifi!

We had a chance to experience some seafood on the Passeig Maritim which happens to be a great boardwalk. There are local fish shacks that fry up squid, cod, clams, oysters etc. The fish quality was super fresh, yet our bill added up quite quickly. The beer and the batter succeeded in making our hands greasy and making our bellies full, but also reminded us that it was summer time! The sun was shining as well as some of the men on the beach that had lathered themselves silly with sun tan lotion. We didn’t mind the view 🙂 By the way, most beaches in Spain allow for nudity. We saw mom’s topless talking with their teenage kids and older friends about everyday conversations. Speedos are also quite standard for men. Don’t be shocked or judge, it’s common and you are in their country. Don’t impose your values or standards upon them, just make a mental note that it is “different”. No one was staring at us or judging us like in America. Everyone was at the beach to relax, enjoy and rest and that is what we did! I wasn’t feeling bathing suit worthy at the moment, but no one on the beach gave a damn what I looked like, or if they did, they were experts at making fun of people on the beach without me knowing.

Here are a few more snapshots of Sitges, Spain. Enjoy

Photo Above: Ibericus carries all kinds of packaged ham

Above Photo: It was super cute watching kids & their parents shop for balloons

Above Photo: Catalonians are trendy when it comes to fashion

Above Photo: A shoe shopper’s paradise

Above Photo: I had a great view from my room!

Definitely consider taking a stop in Sitges, Spain. Lots of romantic restaurants, great shopping and things to see and do. Remember that it is 45 minutes away from Barcelona if you want a quick fix for the beach! You can rent parasols and beach chairs and make a whole day of it. You will go back to Barcelona sun kissed, glowing and much more relaxed!