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With London's summer feeling like a bit of an anti-climax, my boyfriend Liviu and I decided to escape to Sitges for a couple of days of Spanish sun.
It was an easy flight into Barcelona, where we picked up a hire-car and drove the short distance to the beach-side resort town of Sitges.
Our base for our stay was the Dolce Sitges hotel. This is a big, resort-style hotel on the southern side of Sitges town. It's getting a bit tired around the edges, but was comfortable enough and they have easy on-site parking.
After a quick swim in the hotel pool, we drove into town for a meal and some drinks.
We don't own a car in London, so it's really rare that we drive together. Things get a bit tense when we're driving – we've tried Liviu navigating and me driving, and Liviu driving and me navigating, but neither of those combinations are good for our relationship. We've resolved to try and drive as little as possible on this trip.
I was amazed by how busy Sitges town was, it was almost impossible to find a park – we ended up parking quite a way out and walking into town. We soon realised that everyone was in town for the annual Fiesta Mayor – a festival that celebrates the town's patron saints: Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla.
Everywhere was crazy busy, with queues for restaurants, but we managed to squeeze into the bar Nieuw Amsterdam and had some solid food and a couple of strong drinks.
From there, we wandered around the corner to Parrots Bar for some big mojitos. This is the ideal position for people watching. Our friendly waiter told us when it was time to join the crowds heading down to the beach. Just as we found a position, the fireworks started – a massive, impressive display that lasted forever and lit up the sky in spectacular explosions of light.
I don't understand people who pull out their phones to video a fireworks display. When are you ever going to watch that video? Who else wants to watch your badly filmed video of a fireworks display that they're not at? The thrill of really good fireworks is just to lose yourself in the wonder of the moment. Put your phones away!
Sitges is a surprisingly family-friendly destination, but there's a noticeably strong gay presence everywhere you go.
There's three main gay beaches that you might want to check out in Sitges:
- Playa De la Bassa Rodona: This is the most accessible gay beach in Sitges — pretty much opposite The Calipolis hotel, overlooked by the Pic Nic beach-side restaurant. There’s a relaxed vibe, speedos on, and plenty of people watching.
- Playa De Las Balmins: You can walk from Sitges town to get this one – you’re heading beyond the church at Platja de Sant Sebastià. Follow the path alongside the beach, climb the hill past the cemetery. Alternatively, if you're driving, park somewhere near the Melia hotel and it's an easy walk from there. Of course, you could just stay at the Melia hotel and this would be your nearest beach. This is a mixed nude beach, with a strong gay area. Good swimming and a relaxed, fairly non-sexual vibe.
- Platja de l'Home Mort: Beyond the Terramar Hotel and a long walk past the L’Atlantida Disco is Playa Del Muerto. It’s a pebble beach and has a small bar. This is a lot further than you're probably expecting, but it's worth the effort. I think the first pebble beach with a bar that you come to is officially called Playa Del Muerto, but you want the next one along which is Platja de l'Home Mort. A small beach bar that sells drinks and (I think) some food, the beach is mainly sand but quite pebbly, and the swimming is good. This is a busy, gay, nude beach. Some guys were wearing swimming trunks, but most weren't. There's an official cruising area in the wooded area across the railway.
For our first gay beach day we headed to Playa De la Bassa Rodona. Starting off with some tapas and beer at Pic Nic restaurant and then squeezing into a square of sand. The weather was perfect, the water clear and warm, and it was wall-to-wall gays.
"I wonder if we'll see anyone we know?" I asked Liviu, only half-joking.
"Don't be ridiculous..." dismissed Liviu.
We were there for a couple of hours, soaking up the sun and occasionally striding out into the water to cool off. I was beginning to feel a bit red and burnt when I noticed a group of guys in the water hitting a volleyball around.
"Probably time to go?" I suggested to Liviu, recognising one of the guys as my ex-boyfriend Volleyball (which is what I called him because of his obsession with volleyball). Thankfully, Liviu didn't question my sudden decision and we bundled ourselves up to head back to the car and to the hotel.
After a bit of relaxing by the pool, and a jug of sangria, we headed into town for dinner. We opted for Vikings in the heart of the gay district. It was solid without being anything exciting. Then a big mojito at Parrots bar and a bit of people watching and we were ready for bed. Day two of our Sitges mini-break, done.
The next day our beach mission was the gay beach at Playa Del Muerto – surprisingly close to our hotel.
We drove as far as we could, and then we were walking along the cliff, unsure of exactly what we were looking for. This was harder to get to than I was expecting, but the best gay beaches generally are. This is totally worth the effort, when you finally get there you're in a little secret cove full of naked gay guys. A total mix of guys, old and young, all shapes and sizes. There's a beach bar selling cheap beer. We swam and sunbathed, swam and sunbathed. Behind the beach, and across the railway, is some woodland which is naturally a very busy cruising area. We didn't tackle it on this visit, but if you fancy a bit of outdoor action then it seems like a pretty good option.
After a quick stop back at the hotel, and another jug of sangria, it was into town for our final night in Sitges. There's a lot more to Sitges gay nightlife than just drinks at Parrots, obviously – there's a number of clubs where you could get a bit loose if that's your thing. This wasn't that kind of mini-break though, so we were happy to be home in bed around midnight.
Once we'd checked out of our hotel, our final Sitges beach day was Playa De Las Balmins. People that we'd spoken to described this as being favoured by bears and older guys, but it was actually a fairly mixed crowd which was cool.
You can walk to this beach from Sitges town, but we'd driven and fluked a park not far from the Melia hotel.
What's great about this beach is that it's sandy and the swimming is good. The water isn't perhaps as clear as Platja de l'Home Mort, and the vibe is definitely not as sexual, but it's a friendly nude beach with a mixed area near the beach bar, and a totally gay area just along a bit.
I saw Fabrizio – a teammate from my gay water polo days – emerging from the sea like a gay naked Jesus. He didn't hear me when I silently mouthed his name so I didn't get to speak with him.
We swam and sunbathed, and swam and sunbathed, and eventually my sunburn (on parts of me that haven't seen the sun for a long time) got the better of me and we called time on our gay beach expedition.
A sizzling summer break in the Spanish sun.
With my all-over tan topped up, I'm ready to dive back into daily life in London.