We’re just back from a week in sunny Sitges. We were first there 25 years ago, and stayed in the amazing Hotel Romantica. This time, we hired an apartment from SitgesHolidayAccommodation (thanks, Brian and Ryan!), and were equally at home.
Sitges is a seaside town, outside of Barcelona. It has charm, and it is a holiday destination for both Spanish families, and a high proportion of gay men from all over Europe.
Twenty-five years ago, and we would have been out on the gay beaches and in the gay bars each and every day and night. This time, we were content to stroll around, enjoying the sights and eating out in the many restaurants. We particularly enjoyed the restaurant by the pool in the gardens of the hotel Xalet, which has been stunningly restored.
I took a day out to travel to the monastery on the Montserrat mountain (Martin lazed on the beach). I went to see the panoramic views from the mountain and its geology, not to bend the knee at the Black Virgin, I hasten to add.
Once I’d arrived, via the cable car, I took the funicular further up the mountain. I walked around for a couple of hours, and then walked back down to the monastery. Almost invariably, the people I passed on the way down, were Polish Catholics making a pilgrimage on foot to the peaks.
When leaving the mountain, I had a l’esprit de l’escalier moment. I had arrived at the cable car station ahead of time, to ensure a place. In fact, I was the third in the queue. I was joined shortly by a Polish family, a mother and a young boy, accompanied by another woman with children. The mother did not have tickets for the return journey, so she went to the ticket office, which was shut for lunch and waited for it to open.
Meanwhile, other passengers trickled in and formed a queue to wait for the cable car. The ticket office finally opened just before the departure of the cable car, and the mother purchased her tickets. She then attempted to move to the head of the queue to rejoin her child. She got halfway before she was forcibly stopped by another Polish woman who refused to let her move forward. It was clear that this woman did not approve of what she viewed as queue-jumping. In vain, the mother, and others, attempted to explain that she had been there earlier, but was forced to wait for the ticket office to open.
In the end she managed to give a ticket to her small child and told him to wait for her to travel on the next cable car.
I was sorry that I could not point out in Polish to the angry woman that her behaviour toward to the mother was neither Catholic nor Christian. My l’esprit de l’escalier moment came later whilst descending on the cable car. I realised that I should have given up my place in the queue to the mother and caught a later cable car and train. This godless atheist would then have demonstrated to the angry Catholic woman what Christianity should be…
I returned to Sitges ruminating on how easily we hit out at others, and how easily we fail to offer support to them.