by Erin Elaine
Our second stop was the beachfront town of San Sebastián. The highlights were the delicious pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”, the Basque version of tapas) and the beautiful scenery. Unfortunately it was cold and pretty windy while we were there, so we didn’t go swimming, but we had a great time regardless.
Now that you have a preliminary vision of San Sebastián in your mind, let’s get started.
Most important first: PINTXOS!!!! Yum yum yum. Imagine a bar completely covered in dozens of plates of fingerfoods, each type looking more appetizing than the next. Such creative mixtures of cheeses, seafoods, vegetables, meats, fruits, sauces… Essentially you grab whatever strikes your fancy, and you end up with a huge amount of variety and deliciousness. Plus you can eat only as much or as little as you want. Think about ordering a plate at a restaurant – the first few bites are the best, right? When the flavor is fresh and new on your tongue. With pintxos you get that new flavor experience after every 4th bite or so. (Tapas in general are similar, but pintxos are even smaller).
Next, the culture. This region is called Basque Country, and they consider themselves to be completely separate from Spain. A lot of people in this area would prefer to be a separate country. The feelings of separatism are fueled not only by the fact that they speak a different language, but also by their unique history, as well as the solidarity that formed during times of oppression. So, if you ever visit here, even though you’re technically in Spain, don’t say it outloud. Here are a few pictures from the culture/history museum:
NOW, the scenery!! The town is situated around one of the most highly-regarded beaches in all of Spain – Concha Beach (or “Shell Beach” because of its shape). It’s nearly 2 miles of perfect sand and gentle waves, with a tiny island in the middle that keeps the biggest waves out. It was nearly empty while we were there, but I hope to return when the weather is warmer to be able to truly enjoy it.
After walking along the beach, we took the Funicular up the steep hill to the very top to check out the views. These pictures don’t convey how steep this hill was. I felt like if I stood up straight I might fall backwards. And here we were in this rickety little funicular that looked as if it was built in the 70s and hadn’t been updated since. But we made it safely up and the view was totally worth it.
We also saw a pretty cool aquarium:
And last but definitely not least, we ended with a night out on the town, enjoying pintxos. The people were overflowing from the bars, filling the streets, and the atmosphere was so nice I almost didn’t want to leave.
I will see you again, San Sebastián!!