I am not sure how I ended up in Sitges, just south of Barcelona but it may be because it’s so close to Casteldefells where we spent time as children fifty (OMG) years ago. My father had rented a villa. We all remember staying in France the night before and my father came into our hotel room and said ‘ Do NOT drink the water’. As soon as he went out and closed the door all five of us rushed to the sink, turned the tap on and drank the water to figure out why we shouldn’t. We found out the next day. My older brother, #1, got sick first, while we were driving. His sick bag, thrown out the car window splattered against the outside of the glass at 60 miles/hour.
We stopped in Barcelona to pick up a few things and my mother took me, #2, into a department store where she stopped in the shoe department. I turned green. She dumped a pair of shoes out of the box, shoved the box under my chin and we ran for the washroom. In those days washrooms had staff that kept everything spotless and made sure you had everything you needed and you left a few pennies for them. The woman took great care of me and in rapid Spanish to my mother told her to get me into bed and take care of me. My mother assured her she would do that. On the way out we passed the shoe department again and there was a repeat performance and a repeat visit to the washroom. The woman almost called the police on the poor care I was receiving. We got out of there and off to Casteldefels.
Where, the rental agent toured us around the villa. With a flourish he flung the bathroom door open and we all looked in to see Cathy, #3, underwear around her ankles throwing up into the toilet. I can’t remember how #4 and #5 handled the water.
In any event it was fond memories of this area that must have led me here.
Somehow I ended up in aTeddy bear hotel. Seriously, there are teddy bears everywhere. There is even one in my room.
There are flags flying across the streets with what could be a bear, although it looks more like a Bigfoot. There are posters in the streets advertising a new Christopher Robin movie and a Paddington Bear movie. This is a pretty little town with an international flair and an affinity for bears. It was the shoe shop that gave me a hint. Incredibly beautiful men’s shoes.
And very hip clothing stores. Very fashionable shirts for men, Prada for women. Lingerie and, hmm, lots of men’s underwear. Then a sex shop with a huge teddy bear in the window. And it slowly dawned on me. I was staying in a gay friendly hotel in a gay friendly town. And I started to see the teddy bears in a new light.
I signed up for an AirBnB experience, learning how to cook paella with a local. Rosie met me one morning and took me shopping at the fish market and then to her architect-designed house where she taught me to make paella, gazpacho and garlic, tomato infused toast, and gave me a little history of the area while we sipped cava (Local Champagne).
We purchased some shaved jam (ham). The price can vary from €6/100grams to over €30/100grams depending on the breed of pig and what they were fed (regular feed or solely acorns). The fish stall also sold fish mixtures for making fish stock. We purchased a small amount of small fish, fish heads and crustaceans which we pressure cooked and then used a sieve with a pestle to wring out all the juices. This stock we used for the paella.
I asked her about the teddy bears. She laughed, not teddy bears, just bears. Apparently they have two bear festival weeks. I asked if I should ask more about the bears or is this something I shouldn’t know. Apparently bears are big burley hairy gay guys. That’s all I know about the subject.
The gazpacho was excellent, a refreshing cold soup. Easy to make. I was amazed at a German-made machine which I call a chef-in-a-blender. It weighs everything, blends and cooks! Between this and the InstantPot you probably don’t need anything else.
The paella was wonderful with deep complex Mediterranean seafood flavours. There is no chorizo in a paella apparently. This was an invention by James Beard and it created a controversy in Spain much like pineapple on pizza did in Italy. In this area paella is a seafood fish. Further inland they would add rabbit.
next stop, an hour south by train and a few days with Dag and Maria.