Situr Home, Sitges Spain

Sitges was our favorite stop on our road trip through Spain, and the Situr Apartment Sitges was a large part of the reason why. Beautifully decorated in blue and white, keeping with the theme of the town of Stiges, this apartment is so great we didn’t want to leave.

Situr Home, Sitges Spain

In the other two cities we visited in Spain, we stayed in hotels, and it was so nice to have a kitchen since our kids couldn’t hang ’til the restaurants opened at 9pm. Plus the extra room to spread out and a washer and dryer were pretty wonderful.

Sitges Apartment InteriorSitges Apartment InteriorSitges ApartmentSitges Apartment Interior

One of the hardest things about traveling with a toddler is that they don’t sleep on the go (or at least mine doesn’t!) but they aren’t at the point where they can skip a nap altogether. So it ends up that one of us has to be inside with her for a few hours each afternoon. With 2 bedrooms and a sweet little balcony, we didn’t mind our afternoons inside here at all! We could put the littlest to sleep in one of the bedrooms, put our 6 year old for some quiet time in the other bedroom, then sit out on the balcony and read and relax for a few hours. It felt positively luxurious!

Sitges Apartment BedroomSitges Balcony

Right in the cutest part of Old Town Sitges, and just a few steps away from the beach, it really is the best location in town. Just look at this view out the window!

Sitges Old TownSitges Spain

See you next summer, Sitges!

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Tossa de Mar, Spain Travel Guide

Tossa de Mar is a very popular beach town on the Costa Brava of Spain, famous for its medieval castle towering over the beautiful beach. Years ago, I saw a photo of this castle in a travel book, and vowed to someday visit. So when we planned our road trip through Spain, I made sure that Tossa was one of our stops.

TRAVEL

Tossa de Mar is about an hour and 20 minutes north of the Barcelona airport, and there are inexpensive, direct flights to Barcelona from anywhere in Europe. You will most likely need to rent a car, as there isn’t much in the way of public transportation up the Costa Brava. Tossa was our third and final stop on our road trip through Spain, so we drove up the coast from Sitges, which was about an hour and 40 minutes, and flew out of the Barcelona airport.

EAT

Tapas del Mar  |  Overlooking the Playa Grande, this restaurant has great seafood, and delicious tapas. Definitely the best tapas we had in Spain. We actually went there a few times, it was that good.

La Terraza del Diana  |  The restaurant at the Hotel Diana has a surprisingly good restaurant. We ate breakfast there every morning, and dinner one night. The upstairs terrace is perfect, with a slight breeze and an amazing view of Playa Grande. I enjoyed the terrace so much that I snuck away during nap time to sit there and get some work done.

Can Pini  | A great location, right below the entrance to the castle, and one of the most kid-friendly restaurants we ate at in Spain. But the real draw is the fresh fish. If you go early, there is a very reasonably priced 3 course dinner menu.

Natural Helado  |  There are ice cream stands about every 10 meters all over town. But the best place is right around the corner from the Hotel Diana, called Natural. Try the mango or coconut ice cream!

SLEEP

Hotel Diana  |  In a town a bit overrun with tourists and characterless vacation apartments, Hotel Diana is the place to stay. It is located right on the Platja Gran, between numerous restaurants and bars, and features beautiful architectural details and stained glass windows and doors. Built in 1906 by Antoni de Falguera i Sivilla, a disciple of Antoni Gaudí, the modernist building is an attraction in and of itself. Based on all of this, we should have loved it! Unfortunately, the hotel is being renovated in phases, and we didn’t luck out with one of the new, fabulous rooms. If you go, try to book one of the suites, which have been renovated and have an amazing ocean view.

SEE & DO

Vila Vella  |  The ancient castle Vila Vella is the only remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast. It is believed to have been built sometime in the 12th century, and to this day is still occupied with museums, restaurants, shops and residences. Spend some time wandering through the narrow, winding pathways of this charming walled-in old town.

Beaches  |  The main beach in Tossa de Mar is the Platja Gran, which lies right in front of the promenade and has a great view of the Vila Vella. Unlike the calm, sandy beaches of Valencia and Sitges, the Platja Gran is a pebble beach, and gets quite deep just a few feet past the water line. So although the beach was packed with families, we didn’t find it ideal for little kids. We much preferred the Platja d’es Codolar, hidden behind the walls of the Vila Vella. It is still pebbles, but much smaller and calmer than the Platja Gran. Plus, my kids thought it was really fun to climb through a little passageway in the castle to get to this more secluded beach.

Hike  |  The hiking trails leading from the Vila Vella out along the dramatic coastline of the Costa Brava offer some of the most amazing views you will ever see. Get up there early to beat the heat, and enjoy the peace and tranquility away from the crowds in town.

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Sitges, SpainSitges is referred to as the Saint-Tropez of Spain, famous for its film festival, carnival, and nightlife. It is also home to 17 different beautiful beaches, a super cute old town, and countless unique shops and restaurants. The entire town is colored in white and brilliant cobalt blue, and is the kind of place that you fall in love with and never want to leave. The kind of place you dream of returning to year after year.

TRAVEL

Sitges is only 20 minutes from the Barcelona airport, and there are inexpensive, direct flights to Barcelona from just about anywhere in Europe. We will fly into Barcelona next time we come, but this time we drove up the coast from Valencia, and it was a beautiful and easy drive. Just be ready with a lot of change for the tolls!

EAT

Beachburg  |  There is nothing better than a juicy burger and some hot fries after a morning at the beach. If you feel the same, you will love this laid-back little burger joint right off of San Sebastian beach. Just remember to ask for your burger well done or it might still be mooing.

Akelarre  |  Our first morning in town we saw a sign saying ‘desayunos’ in front of this little tapas bar between our apartment and the beach. We sat down at one of the wine barrel tables in the street and had a delicious breakfast with a view of the ocean. Then we repeated this every morning that we were in Sitges. Great food, great prices, great view.

Fontanals Xarcuteria  |  Like in Valencia, we had some trouble with the hours of the restaurants in Spain. Most nights our girls couldn’t make it until 8:30 or 9pm when the restaurants started serving dinner. So we started picking up a fresh baguette from one of the bakeries and getting some jamon iberico from this charcuterie and making sandwiches. You can’t find better jamon in all of Spain, I am certain! The ham is so unbelievable I wanted to fill my suitcase with it to bring back to Vienna!

SLEEP

Situr Home  |  When we planned our trip to Spain, I looked into Sitges, but couldn’t find a place to stay that was available and looked good. So we had planned a different destination, and I was hoping to just do a day trip to Sitges. Luckily, I kept looking and at the last minute found perhaps the very cutest place in the best location in all of Sitges. So we changed plans in the middle of our road trip and couldn’t have been happier with that decision. I can’t say enough about this little apartment. It is perfect. After one night, we were already planning our trip back for next summer.

SEE & DO

Beaches  |  There are 17 beaches in Sitges, so no matter who you are and what you are looking for, there is a beach for you! We love San Sebastian beach (Platja de Sant Sebastiá), just east of the church. It is a charming sandy beach, with shallow water and few waves, and doesn’t feel as crowded as the other beaches. It is also filled with babies, toddlers and small children, so we felt right at home.

Walk  |  You can lose yourself walking through all the winding narrow streets. The closer you get to the old town, the more quaint it is. And the Passeig Maritim is a great place to run, walk, scooter, or just hang out, anytime of the day. But in the evenings it is definitely the place to be in Sitges.

Shop  |  There are so many cute boutiques in Sitges, selling anything from handmade goods to fashionable clothes to original art. We window shopped as we walked through town, but were too busy at the beach to spend much time actually going into the shops.

Museums & Art Galleries  |  For such a tiny town, there is a surprising number of museums and art galleries. My favorites are the Museo de Maricel and the Palau de Maricel, right on the ocean in the old town.

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Valencia Travel Guide - City of Arts and Sciences

The third largest city in Spain, Valencia has a little something for everyone. A beautiful historic city center, gorgeous sandy beaches, great food, warm weather, plenty of culture, and as much nightlife as you can handle. We took a road trip along the Eastern coast of Spain this summer, starting in Valencia, before heading north up the coast to Sitges and the Costa Brava.

TRAVEL

There are direct flights right into Valencia airport (VLC) from most major cities in Europe. From Vienna, it was only 2 1/2 hours. From the airport, the city center is easily reachable by the underground Metro. Taxis are also plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

EAT

L’Estimat  |  My husband’s favorite food in the world is Paella, so of course we were on a mission to find the best paella in Valencia. The word on the street is that L’Estimat is the place to eat Paella, and the time to go is Sunday afternoon. We made reservations a few days in advance, and it was a good thing we did, as they were packed starting right when they opened at 1pm. The paella was amazing, and the view of the ocean from our table wasn’t too bad, either.

Horchateria Santa Catalina  |  Horchateria Santa Catalina is the oldest and most well-known Horchateria in Valencia, right in the center of old town. Horchata is a very sweet, creamy, slightly grainy drink made from tigernuts, usually served ice-cold in a tall glass with fartons. Fartons are flaky pastries in the shape of a breadstick, perfect for dipping in your glass of horchata. In addition to horchata and fartons, Horchateria Santa Catalina also serves delicious fresh churros con chocolate. But don’t expect the sugar covered churros we are accustomed to in the U.S. These are not sweet on their own, and are intended to be dipped in the cup of thick melted chocolate. For the non chocolate lovers out there (me!) you can sprinkle some sugar on top of your churros.

Bocados Café  |  A great spot for fresh fruit smoothies, a quick bocadillo, or sandwich, and a bowl of refreshing gazpacho.

Agua de Valencia  |  A very popular drink in Valencia, Agua de Valencia is a mix of Cava, vodka, gin, and orange juice served in a sangria pitcher. It was invented in the 1950’s at the Café Madrid de Valencia, but can now be found at almost any restaurant in Valencia. It is so refreshing, especially on a hot day. But be careful, it is quite strong!

SLEEP

Petit Palace Germanias  |  In the up and coming Russafa neighborhood, this is a great kid-friendly boutique hotel. We loved the location, right in the middle of a ton of great tapas places and a short walk from the Old Town. They also have free bicycles to use, which was great for an early morning ride before the kids were awake.

SEE & DO

City of Arts and Sciences  |  Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela in the former riverbed of the river Turia, the City of Arts and Sciences is a huge, futuristic complex housing many museums, an opera house, a performing arts center, a planetarium and one of the best aquariums in Europe, the Oceanográfic. If you are traveling with kids, the Oceanográfic is a great way to spend a few hours, and everyone will enjoy marveling at the incredible architecture of the entire center.

La Playa  |  While I wouldn’t visit Valencia solely for the beach (there are better beaches in Spain), the Playa de la Malvarrosa is a beautiful, family friendly beach that is easily reachable by bus from anywhere in the city. There you will find a very wide stretch of golden sand, relatively calm waters, and plenty of restaurants lining the promenade. We spent a beautiful Sunday morning relaxing at the beach, before heading up toL’Estimat for a delicious Paella lunch.

Old Town  |  There is so much to see and do in the  historic old town of Valencia. Although it can be pretty crowded and touristy, there are a few sights you simply must see. The UNESCO World Heritage Site La Lonja de la Seda, the hip Barrio del Carmen, Mercado CentralCatedral de Valencia, and Plaza de la Virgen are all within walking distance in the old town and if you head out early enough in the morning, you will have them all to yourself.

Russafa  |  The Russafa (or Ruzafa) is Valencia’s hippest neighborhood, filled with great shops, tapas restaurants, bars, sidewalk cafes, and a very popular and lively market. The neighborhood is funky, colorful, stylish, and a little gritty. In contrast to the touristy old town, the Russafa is filled with locals and will give you a much better feel for the city of Valencia and its people.

MORE

Spaniards eat dinner late! Most restaurants in Valencia don’t open until 8:30 or 9pm at the earliest. If you are traveling with little ones who are usually in bed by 7pm, this could cause a bit of a problem. If your little ones can’t make it to a 9pm dinner, try eating a big, late lunch, then grab a baguette and some fresh serrano ham to make quick sandwiches before bed.

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Kurbis Risotto Hokkaido Pumpkin Risotto

Happy First day of October!

When fall comes around, while everyone else is looking forward to pumpkin spice lattes and chunky sweaters, I am usually mourning the end of my beloved summer. But this year, I am actually pretty excited about the changing leaves and crisp weather. Maybe because we are living somewhere with 4 distinct seasons? Anyway, I’m completely embracing the fall and incorporating pumpkin and squash into everything I possibly can.

Starting with this delicious pumpkin risotto. Made with beautiful, organic Hokkaido pumpkin, deliciously fresh sage, crispy pancetta, toasted pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese.

Hokkaido Pumpkin Risotto

Almost every local restaurant here in Austria has at least a few kurbis (pumpkin) specialties on the menu right now. This risotto is a combination of a few of my favorites.

It is the perfect dish to serve to company, because it looks like you spent hours in the kitchen. But in reality you can have it completely done in about 40 minutes. It is also a great meal for baby, just chop the pumpkin smaller and omit the pancetta and pine nuts.

ReisHunger Risotto Rice fresh sage and pinenuts

You will need:

  • 1 organic Hokkaido pumpkin
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thinly sliced pancetta
  • 3 Tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Large bunch of fresh sage, chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese
  • chicken or vegetable broth
  • butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup good white wine, plus more to serve
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly wash the pumpkin, then cut it in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Chop the pumpkin, skin and all, into 1/2 inch chunks.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy bottom pot. Add diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and pumkin, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the arborio rice and sauté for a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
  4. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, to the risotto, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has been absorbed.
  5. In a separate pan, fry the thinly sliced pancetta until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan, but do not remove the fat. Fry the chopped fresh sage in the pancetta fat until crispy.
  6. Serve the risotto, topped with the crispy pancetta, sage, pine nuts, and freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese.

Hokkaido Pumpkin

I love Hokkaido pumpkin because it is so easy! The hard exterior softens up beautifully after cooking, so you don’t have to remove anything but the stem and the seeds. The rest can be chopped up and cooked. It is delicious in risotto, but equally good roasted and served with chopped sage as a side dish.

Kurbis Risotto with pancetta, sage, pine nuts and parmesan

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