Christmas rings the bell of festivities, celebrations and winter vacation. Last Christmas our plans were to explore the north-eastern part of Spain; mainly known as Catalonia. We planned to stay in Sitges, around 35km from Barcelona. Sitges is around 1400 km from Brussels. So we planned for a night’s stay in Clermont Ferrand in central France. We started from Brussels on 30 December around 9:00 in the morning. We crossed Paris and drove southwards through the Loire valley travelling across Orleans and Bourges and enjoyed thoroughly the marvellous view of the volcanic landscape of the massif central, best known for its puys or volcanic cones, before reaching Clermont Ferrand at 4.30 pm. Later in the evening we visited the gothic cathedral of Notre Dame in the centre of the city which is entirely built in black lava stone. All of us enjoyed walking to the city’s main square, Place de Jaude and marvelled at the beautiful Christmas illumination and decorations. There we found Bartholdi’s equestrian statue of Vercingétorix, the Celtic chief ,who almost foiled Julius Ceaser’s conquest of gaul ( modern France and Belgium). This place was slightly crowded with tourists from all parts of the world. We bought from an old couple warm chestnuts which they were selling in small paper cones. Walking through the night’s wintry chill while having warm chestnuts and admiring the beauty of the palce are really some pleasant experiences which I hold close to my heart!
The next day we continued our travel southwards for Sitges, a small coastal town in Spain which is surrounded by the garraf massif and the blue mediterranean. We ushered the New Year by listening to the sound of the waves, walking by the seafront promenade and dining in a cosy seaside restaurant . We relished on the seafood – Paella – cooked with rice and seasoned with saffron petals.The picturesque afternoons and wonderful sunsets were quite mesmerising in Sitges.
On our third day in Sitges, we drove to Andorra, la vella, a small independent country situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountain. Andorra is best known for it’s ski resorts. We purchased cable car tickets to and forth from the city centre to one of the ski resort and spent 2 to 3 hours in the snow enjoying the spectacular view of the crowd sking down the slopes and children enjoying the sledge rides. It took us nearly 2 and half hours to return to Sitges.
The next day we visited Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s catalonia region. After parking our car in one of the city’s many underground carparks, we walked upto the church Sagrada Familia. This roman catholic church is designed by Antoni Gaudi. The construction of this church commenced in 1882 and in 1883 Gaudi took the role of the head architect and combined both gothic and art nouveau. The work of the church is still in progress and is anticipated to be completed by 2026. From the opposite side of the church we embarked on a hoff on hoff off bus and visited mostly the northern part of Barcelona and wondered at Gaudi’s innovative architectural ability. Gaudi’s another masterpiece, La Pedrera , is a modernist building inspired by nature with its undulating facade and wrought iron balconies. The sight of the stadium of FC Barcelona football club commonly known as Barca was quite exciting. Our bus also took us through the city’s financial hub adorned with tall black glass buildings and road side full bloom orange trees. After the visit of Tibidabo mountain our bus drove us through the lanes of the city centre and enabled us to wonder at the city’s medieval gothic buildings. We finally disembarked after visiting many of the grandeurs of Barcelona. It took us forty minutes to return to our nest in Sitges.
The final two days in Sitges were lazily spent in the lovely beach collecting sea shells and building sand castle. The hue of the nature while the sun sets beyond the sea captivates our imagination and satisfies our troubled soul with utmost divine pleasure.
Author: Mitali Sanyal
My love for travelling and exploring the history, culture and food inspire me to share my experiences with you. I am a homemaker and I live in Brussels (Belgium) with my husband and son.