place too. In July. De la Ribera beach is full of middle-class folk from Barcelona. who have taken the half hour. 5 euro train ride

along the coast to escape the blazing heat of

the city. It‘s all typically Catalan even the manner in which they let it all hang out is both refined and confidently democratic.

So it was nearly Ibiza. isn‘t quite Brighton and definitely isn't St Tropez. but Sitges is definitely a special playground. Although it grew up in the l96()s. the origins of the town as we see it today began in the 1890s. Sitges became the centre for the long-forgotten Luminist school of art.

Then the artist Santiago Rusinol. rather than join the industrial throng in Barcelona. settled in Sitges instead. He built Iil Cau Ferrat as his house and studio in the style we refer to as art nouveau but which Catalans call modernista. The best example is the

exuberant floral decorations on the facade of

the Casa Pere Carreras i Robert. You can still visit El Cau lierrat today. and Rusifiol‘s house was bought in 1912 by the millionaire Charles Deering to host his vast art collection. lirom it the Museu Mar l Cel. which contains a collection of Iil (ireco. '/.uloaga. Casas and Picasso pictures. was created.

Sitges became a place where people came to think. In 1928. along with the critics Sebastia Gasch and [.luis Montanya. Salvador Dali published the Yellow Mani/ism in Sitges. He used it to denounce the nationalist art of Catalonia and fiercely

defended the internationalist spirit of

futurism and cubism. Sitges was a place where people came to think clearly before challenging the orthodoxy of the day. It was the same in the 6()s. At the height of Franco's tyrannical rule. Sitges became a small safe haven where dissent could be expressed in relative safety.

A commune of artists and poets took to the town and. unlike Ibiza. that spirit endures. You can see it in the tasteful little bars away from the main drag and in the stylish curves of the modernist villas along the beach. By turning its nose tip at the money of the millionaires or the hedonistic mob. Sitges remains a calm yet intensely beautiful place in which to recharge the mind.



Living the travel dream

I GOOD HOLIDAY WEBSITES are few and far between but Kuoni has certainly upped the ante with its three-tiered Book Your Dream Holiday site. From Africa and the Indian Ocean to USA and Canada, this accessible new kid on the block is well worth a gander. Log on to

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I ROUGH GUIDES' MAGAZINE Rough News continues to be an impressive read, with the summer 2004 issue covering features on South America. Australia and Ball to name but a few. Subscription is free and well worth the effort for travel luwies wanting to keep an eye on the latest publications and offers. To subscribe email newslettersubs@roughguides.

I BUSMEN’S HOLIDAYS are back as Citylink sets up a range of super single deals from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Single savers start at £1, while Glasgow and Edinburgh to lnverness routes are available from £6. Call 08705 505050 for details or log on to uk/citylinkweb.

I FOR SOMETHING A BIT cool. look no further than the latest literary offering from the Thames and Hudson Hip Hotels camp. Beaches are the topic of this above average coffee table read. Inspired by the blissful best of all the. this nippy little number is enough to persuade those partial to a last minute cheapie deal to


I How to get there You can fly to Barcelona airpOrt from Edinburgh and Glasgow with Air Scotland or Fly Globespan for around $360. Sitges is on the same side of Barcelona as the airport so it takes only 15 minutes by train to get to the town with a small change at Prat (no giggling) de Llobegrat.

I Where to stay Pension Espalter at Espalter. l l is a great little guest house that charges $31 for a double room in

May and October and rises to £45 in the high season of August. It's clean and stylishly Simple. Stay in LOS Globos it you have a bit more cash it's 5368 a night at high season and you are amid the attractive Villas and only two minutes from the promenade above De la Ribera beach. Both hotels are gay friendly. The Beach House at Sant Pau. 34 is a great little restaurant run by two Australian guys.

I Where to eat El Celler Vell is an extremely friendly Catalan restaurant With a variety of meat and fish dishes. incongruously posmoned on the infamous Sin Street (Bonaventural.

blow the bank a little and go for something special.

2-". Jun—8 do” 2004 THE LIST 109