What a difference a day makes
Captain Clarke and I arose this morning – me having had a fairly disturbed night with a variety of noisy interruptions, him having slept through it. I decided that, after yesterday’s foul weather, I would consult my apps to see if today would be better. Good news, they all predict no rain. Bad news, it was only 6 degrees! However, having abluted and dressed we decided to take a walk into town in preparation for the ‘traditional bed race’. Actually, before I continue, I have good news on the walking front – yesterday’s rain saw a significant reduction in the distance walked having reduced to 13,304 steps or 8.9km (5.5m in old money). We are now approaching the target … albeit from the wrong direction! Having ventured out we discovered that it was warm in the sun although a little chilly out of it. Still, we went and took a small coffee (him a café con leche and me a cortado) and then took up position to watch the parade. The sun was so warm we had to take our jackets off!
The ‘traditional bed race’ turned out to be anything but a traditional bed race! Firstly, there were virtually no chariots that looked anything like ‘beds’. Secondly, only about half of those taking part took it seriously at all … many just took the opportunity for a new kind of party! Thirdly, the bed race only lasted about 20 minutes, it was then followed by a large parade of … more beds (or at least floats). There is a sense of organised chaos around the whole thing. People join the melee for no apparent reason and just sort of take part. No-one seems to mind and everyone has a good time. One thing we are learning as the carnival goes on – nothing is complete until the King arrives. There is no doubt that this chap works extremely hard and doesn’t seem to get any rest at all!
It is also another sad reflection on the current state of affairs that the carnival has a very prominent theme running through it – anti-Trump. There is a strong political message that is anti-Trump and that isn’t just coming from one section of the community, it is universal. It is quite clear that the Spanish have been offended by Trump as a nation and have aligned themselves as colleagues or allies of the Mexicans, the Cubans, middle Eastern countries, women’s rights, LGBT rights and anyone else that Trump has offended in his short tenure (that’ll be most people then!). He is definitely not liked in Spain and not welcome here. The Spanish are, amongst other things, quite proud people and the fact that Trump has had all Spanish language material and signage removed from the White House has offended them at the very heart of their culture.
We took a significant number of photos of the race and parade and we have included them at the end of this missive for you to peruse at your leisure (or ignore at your will). Below is a short piece of video footage taken as the parade passed. Note the anti-Trump signs around their necks!
Having watched the race and the parade it was time to think about lunch. Captain Clarke had a very good suggestion … why not buy a couple of bits and take then back to the hotel and eat them on our balcony. Considering the number of people and the queues for restaurants this seemed like an absolutely fabulous idea and this is what we did. A ‘Bocadillo de Jamon Serrano’ (Serrano ham baguette) was procured from a specialist in Serrano ham, some cheese, some ‘guindillas’ (the pickled chillies we learned about yesterday) and some crisp were procured from the mini Supermarket next door and we walked back to our hotel using the ‘back roads’ to avoid the crowds. Goodness knows what tonight will be like, but it is guaranteed to be interesting!
Saturday evening in Sitges turned out to be everything we expected – exceedingly busy, noisy and sights and sounds that you must surely only get here. Captain Clarke and I wandered into town a little earlier just to see if there were any retail therapy opportunities. There were. I ended up with two bags, one a pair of shoes and the other some trousers and as a consequence returned to our hotel to store them rather than carry them around all evening and whilst have dinner. This was fine, but has blown my daily target again (18,484 steps, 11.5km or 7.2m – this must stop!). Captain Clarke awaited my return near to the restaurant I had chosen to eat in. Now, I should say at this point that generally Captain Clarke has a better record than me at picking restaurants but because of the thousands of people in the town and the fact that almost everywhere was packed, I suggested an Italian restaurant on the edge of town called La Tagliatella (yes, I have spelled that correctly). True to form, I should have shut up and let Captain Clarke go in search. The restaurant was not good – as Trip Advisor will discover shortly!
On arriving at the restaurant we were greeted at the door by a waiter. Captain Clarke indicated that we wished for a table for two (I now wish he had used the international symbol for two, but you live and learn) and we were told, “that table over there” and the waiter pointed at a table. That wasn’t a good sign, but it didn’t deter us. After a few minutes a surly waitress arrived and gave us two menus. The menus were in Italian or Catalan – now I know we are in Catalunya but for goodness sake. This is a town that attracts international visitors from around the world and is part of Spain – a menu in Spanish wouldn’t hurt! We did decipher the menu however and I made another discovery … there was no arrabbiata sauce on the menu. There are three main sauces in Italian cooking (although only one is authentic to Italy) bolognese (actually American) carbonara (made in Rome but by a French chef) and arrabbiata (truly Italian made with tomatoes, garlic and chilli). The menu had bolognese, it had carbonara but it did not have arrabbiata!
Having therefore made a compromise choice I chose tagliatelle with bolognese sauce, Captain Clarke ordered a type of linguini with carbonara sauce. When the food arrived Captain Clarke had spaghetti with carbonara and I had tagliatelle with a vaguely tomato flavoured something with chewy bits of meat in it. It was not good! My pasta was overcooked (in an Italian restaurant!), the sauce was revolting and there was no garnish, no presentation it was just shoved on a plate. Captain Clarke said his was dry and needed more moisture. It wasn’t a great meal at all. We ended it by ordering two ‘Cortados’ (small Spanish coffees) and Captain Clarke asked if they had any 103 brandy (pronounced see-en-toe trez) but the waitress feigned that she didn’t understand him. He tried again asking if they had ‘Fundador’, but still no understanding, he tried for Soberano, still nothing. He eventually got her to understand the word ‘brandy’ and she disappeared. After some while she returned. She brought back one cortado and one black coffee with brandy in it (called a ‘carajillo’ in Spanish meaning a ‘hidden one’ heralding from the days of prohibition). Captain Clarke was very calm about it and just took the coffee but turned to me and said, “if I had wanted a carajillo I would have f*****g asked for one!”. Quite right too – we won’t be going back!
Once we left the restaurant we went for a short walk around town, but it was frankly too busy to be enjoyable. You couldn’t move from one street to the next and the chances of getting a drink were zero. We decided to head back to our hotel. As we were walking out of town we saw that the bar of the Hotel El Niño was open. The El Niño is a hotel that opened a few years ago on the seafront. It is very plush and, at the time that we stayed there for a weekend (when Gorgeous and her husband ‘S’ were here) it was very expensive. We decided that, stuff it, after a pretty disastrous meal and with the town packed, we would have a drink here. It turned out that the drinks were no more expensive than anywhere else in town, the surroundings were lovely, the staff were friendly and it was a good end to the evening.
We walked back to the hotel and have both commented this morning that we had one of the best night’s sleep since we have been here (albeit that I was awake from 04:45 until about 05:30 because a party had moved to just outside our hotel!). Today is our final day here in Sitges and tonight is one of the two big parades of the carnival week – the Rua de la Disbauxa (Parade of Debauchery) so that should be fun! Actually, S&M have been here once before for this parade as have Great Uncle Bulgaria and Madame Cholet, so they know what to expect! Let’s hope that I can get better photos than I did last night. I don’t know if it was the light, a dirty lens or what, but they weren’t good. Tonight we need good photos – it is RudyMenTerry!