Our trip to the basque country, would not have been complete without a trip to San Sebastian. Therefore, without much ado we woke up early Sunday morning and headed to the bus station and caught the first bus we could get on to San Sebastian.
After an hour of driving through the lush green countryside we arrived in San Sebastian. Neither of us did all that much research before we came. Lauren had recommended a few things, such as climbing Monte Urgull, and Beñat had recommended some others and so we figured we would wander and enjoy the city and the ocean and see what we saw, rather than following a strict agenda.
The bus dropped us off right along the river within a ten minute walk towards downtown. With such nice weather, we headed along the river as a guide.
To fulfill our coffee or caffeine necessity we broke off from the river and headed into the town where we struck by the mixture of architecture. Lexie commented that it was one of the most beautiful cities she has seen, a fact which with I would agree. We found ourselves wandering exclaiming, ooh look at that building, let’s go see it up close. Here are a few of our favorites:
We could not get this close to the beach without running our toes in the sand.
While we were looking for a place to have lunch we stumbled upon this collective dance in the square. It was more like a circular line dance. I am not sure why they were dancing, if this was a special occasion or occurred every Sunday, but it was fun to watch them all enjoying being outside and being active.
We were told that there are two buildings in San Sebastian, roughly modeled off of the Hotel de Ville and the Opera House in Paris and so we started a hunt to find these buildings. It took us all around the city since we didn’t have a map and were not quite sure what exactly we were looking for. Comically, we learned that we found the first building when we found the water. But the journey allowed us to see more of the city. Here are such buildings, you can judge for yourself the similarities between the buildings and there referents.
(I somehow do not have a close up photo of the Constitution House (or the Town Hall) which emulates the Hotel de Ville)
We then began our journey to Monte Urgull, which is a statue of Jesus on top of a hill overlooking the cove and city. Instead of walking along the water, we wove throughout the streets, which led us to this church as well as the district of bars. You can see how active these streets were on a Sunday afternoon.
Upon making it to the top, we were rewarded with such views:
We returned back to the streets with all of the bars in hopes of trying Sidra (Cider) for which the city is known. It was much flatter than typical ciders and to me tasted like someone had mixed club soda with apple juice. One of the hardest parts was actually ordering the drink because instead of written in Spanish it was in Basque which mixes tx’s together. This mixture sounds somewhat like the english sh or ch, nonetheless, my mind gets a little confused when seeing these two letters placed next to one another.
After our sidra we wandering into different bars trying their different pintxos, which are open bite size sandwiches and other meals. The bars advertise their different treats by placing them all along the counter and you can then fill your plate with all of the ones that you want. The options are endless!
Our day was starting to wind down, but as we were starting to head back to the bus station, we ran into the parade for Carnival. There were many different floats that had troops of dancers ranging from children to adults in front all dancing to music. Each group had a different theme and thus different music and costumes. Instead of focusing on forward movement, they put on a dance show for each set of spectators causing the parade to slowly move through the streets. I think snails might have moved faster. However this played in our favor since the parade was moving the direction that we had to go to get back to the bus and so we were able to walk and see most of it.
After viewing the Parade we headed back to the bus station. It was surprisingly hard to get a ticket home because there was not clearly marked where one could by a ticket. The buses all sat in an open parking lot and so we had to ask a couple of people where we could in fact get a ticket home. Once it was purchased, we had one last snack before getting onto the bus and heading back to Bilbao.
(One last church that I found on my way back to the bus station)
Back in Bilbao we wanted to grab some jamon and cheese to make a quick snack for dinner; however, it was rather late and no local stores were still open. After wandering the streets we settled upon a restaurant close to our hostel that had delicious huevos rotos (scrambled eggs with jamon). I realize in posts like these how much of them revolve around food, but I guess my stomach is one of the ways that I experience these different cultures.
The following morning I woke up early and headed to the airport. On the bus I met up with my good friend June, who had somehow done almost the exact same trip as us, but we did not see her in either Bilbao or San Sebastian. We made it uneventfully back to Madrid concluding my weekend getaway!