Seeing a Different Spain in San Sebastian

Spain is my Up There in my list of favourite countries. It is so diverse and so full of history and tradition and their culture is definitely one of my favourite- who doesn't love a country that believes in napping from midday until 4pm?!

I loved San Sebastian- Donostia in Basque, both names meaning San Sebastian in their own language. The city was brought to people's attention in the book The Sun Also Rises- Hemingway. He spent a lot of time there as a journalist reporting on the Spanish Civil War and returned several times with his wife and friends- giving him the material to write his famous novel. The architecture of the city gives it the air of being a stylish resort.

a selection of pintxos
The city itself is quite small, and boasts more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else! Food is in abundance in the city centre, and you can stumble across a pintxos bar- Basque style tapas- on every street. You can generally replace meals with pintxos, and get a glass of wine for a Euro! Or you could have an introduction to kalimotxo, 50% [cheap] red wine & 50% cola- a similar concept to a Spritzer, just with red wine and cola instead of white wine and soda. Try all the different bars, most of the ones we went to were around 2€ per pintxos, which was great value but we found we were consuming a lot of bread based meals. On our last night we found a slightly more expensive pintxos bar with a better selection. Pintxos (and tapas) are probably my favourite way to eat.

San Sebastian boasts two beaches La Concha, and La Zurriola. La Concha is the larger of the two and the most beautiful. It's the one you see on postcards, overlooked by a statue of Jesus on Monte Igueldo. In the summer the shell- shaped cove is crowded with people sunbathing and taking a dip in it's deep blue waters. The cove is protected, partly by its shape and by the island Santa Clara just 500 metres from the shore. You can visit this island, also.

A busy afternoon at La Concha

La Zurriola is a surfer's beach- even the Aussie's I was with admitted it had great waves for surfing. You can rent surfboards, wetsuits and even get surfing lessons here. It is a much smaller beach on the eastern side of San Sebastian. You can watch the waves, and surfers all through the night from the bar People.

If you're feeling active, you could attempt hiking up some of the hills, the more difficult of the two is from Zurriola beach where you head up the hill to some steps which you can follow a red, green and white trail. The green trail diverts halfway, but the red and white one is around 5 miles long and takes around 2 and a half hours- unsurprisingly I didn't attempt this trail!

The view from La Concha to Monte Igueldo with Jesus at the top 

The one we did attempt was up Monte Igueldo, the mountain between the two beaches. It is a walk up to the statue of Jesus overlooking the city. You can get to this from the edge of La Concha. This trail takes around an hour each way, and there is a bar halfway up if you need refreshments (more on this Friday!).

San Sebastian was a great start to my trip, reminding me to slow down and relax- as life in Spain is always much slower.

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  1. I absulutely love San Sebastian. It's one of my favorite towns in the world. The food there is sublime. At home, we often try to recreate dishes we had on our visit to San Sebastian. Love both beaches, especially La Concha!


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