We had booked to stay two nights to give us a full day to explore the pretty town of Sitges. Early next morning we set out to walk along the coast towards the civic looking buildings. John had few memories of the place, just a notion there was a nudist beech, some craft shops and a promenade where he had watched a mass wine pressing. Our way into town followed the sea wall and at that time of day was the province of dog walkers and joggers. At the far side of the marina we came to what seemed to be a dead end only to discover a set of stairs climbing the hillside into the next bay. We were overtaken on the stairs by a little white, long -haired dog, short of leg, but wide of girth, gamely panting away ahead of his owner. A lady, he stood in the shade waiting for, who stood to pant in turn and chat to another dog owner, another woman with a Labrador, heading downhill. The two dogs sniffed at each other, then hung at the heels of their owners waiting. The little dog made us think of Scamp, though it was shorter, rounder and hairier. We carried on and the first bay was the nudist beach, though most beachgoers were fully dressed in the early morning chill, a few determined nudists paddled up and down the waters edge. The path took us in front of some villas to the next curve of beach, where John remembered watching the wine treading,, something of a raucous affair, where all comers were welcome to doff their sandals off and jump in. Here were some other hardy sun worshipers, mostly with small children wielding buckets and spades. A number of restaurants and bars had tables looking out onto the sea front, but we decided to head off into town out of the breeze before stopping for a coffee. You may call us wimps, but we get plenty of wind at sea.
The streets of the town are narrow enough to cast a chilling shade. We wandered up and down, bought some fruit then some bread and a table came free outside the bread shop so we sat in the sun for cappuccinos and tiny custard pastries. Unable to locate the craft shops we headed for an impressive looking building and wandered along it to a terrace overlooking the sea. A school party was ranged round their teacher, who was taking a photograph of them all through a large mirror window. The building housing the mirror was a museum and art gallery, so we decided to take a look inside. It was surprisingly engaging. The lower floor was a series of rooms painted vivid blue and housing a vast array of plates and tiles and artifacts from tiny Roman glass bottles to framed Edwardian comic strips. All arranged so precisely that the clutter formed a cohesive whole. Everything was gleaming immaculate in the light flooding in from the windows through which the sea glinted. The building gloried in the outlook onto the sea. On higher floors small windows seemed set low to frame a picture of the moving water and further round in the gallery sculptures were set against the backdrop of the water. Originally the building had been a hospital and had been converted into a house and gallery by a wealthy American at the turn of the last century to house his art collection. There was a portrait of him in one of the rooms, but other than that he had taken his collection back to Chicago in the wake of World War One. The present art collection was is of local work spanning several centuries donated to the state, who have done an impressive job of curation. Eventually we reached a gallery at the end of which a large doorway lay open on to an outside terrace. Except that it was fully glazed. We had arrived at the other side of the large exterior mirror and were treated to looking out through one- way glass at people preening and posing inches away on the street.
Once back on the street ourselves, we noticed it had warmed up a lot and we lunched in one of the seafront restaurants looking out at the blue. It was a good value set menu, with a superb starter of chilled melon soup with shreds of Parma ham piled up in the center and threads of raw spring onion. Quite a thick soup too, not sure how they achieved that and kept the fresh taste.
We had planned to make that our meal for the day and just planned to go out for a drink that evening before an early night, but the smells from one of the glass boxes strung along the marina wall tempted us. We shared a warm goats cheese salad to start and then John had a monkfish and potato stew in a rich shellfish based sauce and I had more monkfish, but with in an almond sauce poured over. Both were excellent and I now have the idea of almond sauce to conjure with. We need to put in some sailing days or I will be a small barrel, like the little white dog.