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Barcelona and Sitges - Spain

Although the de facto capital of Spain is of course Madrid (see this guide) Barcelona has thought of itself in this role for centuries and the modernization and facilities that came with the Olympic games (1992) have given an enormous boost to the city. That however was not to the detriment of historic Barcelona. The Old City, the palaces churches and the modernisme (art nouveau) architecture, most notably that of Antonio Gaudi, gives the tourist much to see and enjoy.

The first to head for is Gaudi’s crazy La Sagrada Familia the yet to be completed cathedral that is the city’s most famous landmark. The sheer dottiness of the architect’s vision and the scale of it (almost 100m tall) are overwhelming. As a contrast the superb 13th - 15th century Catedral de Barcelona (Le Seu) is a gothic masterpiece which has a number of styles due to the length of time it took to complete. Take the lift to the roof for superb views of the city.

The centre of the city seems focused on the kilometer long leafy boulevard La Rambla, which runs up to the port. This contains some interesting items – The Liceu Opera House, the Boqueria market and a mosaic by Joan Miro. There are also some gay bars and shops just off the Rambla itself. There is a museum dedicated to this artist, the Fondacio Joan Miro, containing hundreds of his works from all periods. Fun way to get there – the funicular from Metro Paral.lel. There is also a smaller Picasso museum in the city.

There are several parks including the enchanting Gaudi decorated Parc Guell and the Parc de la Ciutedella which house the museum of Modern art and the Zoological Museum. It is also possible to cruise around the Cascadas monument and fountain.

There are a few beaches but be warned by those famous windmills – there can be a vicious wind that will sandblast you with the fine sand making sunbathing and snorkelling impossible. On this island are some of the most pretentious queens you will meet anywhere concentrating on wearing the latest in swimwear and sunglasses more than anything else. It is not difficult to find a gay bar or restaurant or club on Mykonos just look around in the street and follow the sunglasses, fashion and cologne.

Although an international major city Barcelona isn’t exactly 24/7 as it closes down every afternoon for three hours of siesta. This might well be a time to go to a sauna or cruise around the parks it might be just as well to get some shuteye as life in this city starts late and runs all night. Generally the bars start after 11pm , the dance clubs at midnight and late bars after 3am until dawn. You’ll need that siesta.
Start with dinner at Castro, go onto an early drink at Punto, then onto dance at Metro or the old established Martin’s. Feeling trendy then try to get into Salvation.

Twenty minutes by train takes you to the popular gay resort of Sitges with its free and easy attitude to same sex couples, 7 kilometers of beautiful beaches, and an historic and pretty old town centre dominated by Esglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Tecia.

The old town is in a time warp with its twisted street and old houses. Visit the preserved Town House of a 19th century wealthy family, the Museu Romantic and Museu Cap Ferrat with its eclectic mix of works from El Greco to Picasso and Miro. Then head to the beach for lunch and some sun. The center of gay life is in the streets around Museu Romantic not far from the station which runs a special train late at night for gay revelers leaving the discos. Finally remember they speak Catalan as their first language not Spanish so try to learn some simple phrases.

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