Sitges; When Spanish eyes are smiling by Robert Jacob

Renowned worldwide for its film festival and often referred to as the Saint Tropez of Spain , you will find Sitges, a small coastal town southwest of Barcelona, A remarkably attractive town with lots of historic buildings and very interesting people sharing a cultured ambiance along with great beaches. Unlike Barcelona, here the beaches are not over crowded and there are quite a few to choose from.

Taxis are quite expensive in Barcelona and the environs, so on arrival at Barcelona Airport, head to terminal 2, where the train station is situated and here you can catch a train directly to Sitges for a mere €4.20 as opposed to €90 for a taxi fare.

Save the money for a nice meal, for Stiges is full of gorgeous places to eat.

Restaurants not to be missed are Al Fresco, on carrer de Pau,by far one of the best. Do try the Salad of Summer roasted vegetables & miso dressing and Baked summer fruits & yoghurt icecream. Set in a small terraced garden, Belen the manager is enchanting and very knowledgeable while providing a professional & friendly service

La Fragata, nestled beside the church on the seafront is very popular both with visitors and locals and with a more sophisticated and refined menu. Here you must try the Scallops and sweet potato or the Hake with baby squid &crispy leeks and the Noisette of lamb is exquisite too.

La Punta de Sitges on c/ Sant Damia. Maria for your fix of tapas. Maria the manager is a gem, while Sebastian the owner , really knows about his wine. Here, you will find real Catalan food like the Pan con tomate, the olive-oil-garlic anointed & tomato juice smeared toast beloved of the Catalans.Also the Carrillera de Buey, Foie gras Higos. It is all good and I can assure you that you will return again and again.

Costa Dorada, a family run fish restaurant, just round the corner on Playa San Sebastian where the very talented Chef Joan Vidal is happy to cook you the freshest seafood on this side of the Catalan coast. Ask for the Carpaccio de Atun with japanese dressing, Clams sautee in wine, garlic & herbes or the Turbina and not to be missed is the house speciality of Espuma de Crema de Catalan. To say that this dessert is good is an understatement, it was insanely divine. I tried very hard to get the recipe but alas to no avail.

La Salseta , is again one of my favourite on C/ san Pau serving seasonal and local produce. Here they are part of the slow food movement so you are sure to get the best. Here try the Ceviche with avocado, Duck foie mi-cuit with beet and Magret of duck breast or Crisp pig’s feet with Catalan blood sausage.

For a taste of local catalan cuisine, visit La Nanza on C/ San Pau. This is a simple bistro type restaurant but the food while simple is excellent. Ask for the Veal fillet cooked in Malvesian wine or the Cassola d’arroz a la Sitgetane, a paella type of dish from old Catalan recipe.

You wouldn’t go to Spain to eat Italian or Japanese, but however I must recommend these two as they are both excellent and excellent value.

Pura Vida on C/ Espalter for great Italian pasta & pizza and Onaji on C/ Marques de Montroig for very tasty Japanese.

However, here in most restaurants if you are offered a bread basket, olives or crisps, be aware it is not free. You will be charge per head for it, quite frustrating if you only had 2 olives and charged €7.50 for it.

If you are looking for a place to stay ; I would give the Award winning Avenida Sofia Boutique Hotel & Spa a miss. It is mutton dressed as lamb. While the decor is contemporary & the rooms elegantly decorated, it offers no privacy at all for the occupants as the bathroom is encased in glass. The windows only open on the inside,as none of the rooms have balconies, so should you wish to open them, you would need to draw the curtains , leaving you exposed to the buildings opposite as the windows are glass from floor to ceiling.The Sky bar & pool area, Well it is far from what I would call a pool, rather a large bath tub or lit up pond !! with very expensive mosaic.

The breakfast buffet was another travesty and by far the worst I have ever had. Dreary bits of meat, gellified scrambled eggs and fried eggs floundered about like the aftermath you would see on a beach after a hurricane. Slivers of cold meat & cheeses were exposed to the elements and wilted in the morning sun and heat. Thank God,for fresh fruits , a Nespresso machine and great views.

For half the price , try the 3 ***Hotel Capri across the road,While it doesn’t scream luxury, it is very private, comfortable and there are rooms with balconies and a proper swimming pool.

Or for something more upmarket, the 4 ****Hotel Estella del Arte on the Sitges Marina would be my choice, offering rooms with a sea view or pool and a breakfast buffet fit for a king and the staff here are very pleasant and helpful.

Barcelona is without doubt a fabulous city and Stiges a lovely spot, if you haven't been , GO because you are missing on something very special.