My lovely husband Dan who is ridiculously good with words is taking over the blog today to tell you all about our getaway to San Sebastian in Spain.
Getting to San Sebastian is easier than you might think, although there is no flight to the city and the closest airport happens to be in neighbouring France, for under €10 and a 1 hour bus journey you can arrive to San Sebastian from Biarritz. The scenery along the way is truly breathtaking and although you are travelling from France to Spain, you are never leaving the Basque Country. What a country it is! Superlatives were invented to describe things as beautiful and incredible as the rolling hills of the Basque Country. Like many other places in Europe, the Basque is susceptible to a changing climate which can result in four seasons in a day. On the day that we happened to be travelling through the country side the sun was shining but the mist prevailed in the valleys as we drove through the border lands of France and Spain.
Walking through the old town we stumbled across a beautifully authentic pintxos bar, buzzing with customers and oozing the charm of the Basque that we had excitedly come to find. Delicious pintos snacks covered the bar area so we quickly nabbed a seat and got settled in. Be careful in this situation, Sara quickly went up to the bar whilst I secured the table, Sara chose a selection of pinxtos which she was asked to pay for and did so. At the same time a waiter asked me what wine we would like, which I ordered. Sara arrived back at the table with our pre paid food but the waiter then proceeded to add those pintxos to the bill and although we tried several times to tell him that we had already paid for them and after many more pintxos had been ordered and many glasses of wine drunk the original pintos were added on anyway so it was awkward. No great drama but just a little bit irritating.
In other places we were told prices were €2 but when the bill arrived we were charged €2.80 per pintos which doesn’t sound much but if you’ve eaten 10 or 15 between people it quickly adds up. In Bilbao on the other hand we ate 8 pintxos and got a bottle of cava for €20. This may sound a little negative but this is just a cautionary note, San Sebastian is the most beautiful of cities with so much to offer and the perfect backdrop to eat good food, drink wine and watch sunsets.
The beach of San Sebastian is a perfect crescent of golden sand caressed by the calming waters of the bay. The beach is divided into two sections with the busiest section of the beach towards the old town. The beautiful nature of the beach almost guarantees that it is always busy, especially in the summer months but this is to be expected and if you wish to have the beach more to yourself then choose a more out of season time to visit. My wife and I were lucky enough to be here during the festival which meant that although the beach was busy both day and night it was still very enjoyable. The water was lovely and warm when we visited and despite the large number of beach goers it was incredibly clean. The respect of the people for their beach environment was commendable.
At night when we went down on to the the beach to drink wine, admire the beautiful bay and watch the amazing fire work display (which was part of the San Sebastian festival) along with the many thousands of other visitors and residents alike, one could be forgiven for falling in love with San Sebastian all over again.
A picturesque stroll around San Sebastian bay heading west will bring you to the funicular station. Although it’s heyday has long since passed, the charm and character of this quirky, yet functional way up the mountain still endures. Within three minutes you arrive at the summit where you are greeted by arguably one of the most spectacular views in all of Spain. More shocking than the breathtaking scenery is the slightly surreal theme park awaiting you as you come out of the funicular. Complete with dodgems, log flume, pony rides and a questionable roller coaster. As well as all this there is a 250 year old light house and a house of horrors if you’re in need of further stimulation.
A picturesque walk above the old town takes you up and round the hill to Monte Urgull where Napoleon once sited a battery to keep the English out of his conquered kingdom of Spain. Unfortunately for him the English under Wellington stormed San Sebastian in 1813, destroying half the town in the process but also quickly renaming Napoleon battery, Wellington battery. Some of the old fortifications are still visible on your way up the hill to Monte Urgull but today a more peaceful scene awaits visitors. With young and elderly couples alike picnicking on the green slopes and in the old ruins of the fort, soaking in the beautiful summer sun. The view of San Sebastian bay, as with every other part of San Sebastian is predictably stunning, yet the climb is well worth it. We chose to do as the locals do and took ourselves a picnic to the top and took in the spectacular view.
Anyone thinking about visiting San Sebastian, my advice would be to stop thinking and start doing. You won’t be disappointed.
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