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Published: October 25th 2012
What a wet weekend! It was raining when we left Pamplona on the Friday and the bus drove through thick cloud most of the way. By the time we got to San Sebastian it was quite torrential. That was how it stayed throughout Saturday and Sunday too!!
Still, we're hardy British travellers and bit of rain (well, a lot of rain!) isn't going to put us off. The Hospedaje Ibai
was excellent and mercifully dry. When we got there, about 40 minutes walk (or paddling) from the bus station, we had to wait outside because the landlady was cleaning her other hostel. Not a great start but she turned out to be from Mendoza, Argentina, so we were able to have a good chat. it's amazing how we still find Argentine Spanish so much easier to understand.
Our first excursion out into the tempest was a walk around the headland with huge waves lashing the coast and the views almost completely obliterated by low cloud and rain. Still, it was nice to see the sea again! We could just about make out the small island in the bay but a boat trip to it is out of the question until
the summer!! The area around the harbour was quite nice and must be incredible when the sun is shining. The aquarium has disappointing reviews so we didn't venture in but some of the nearby touristy shops were nice for a browse. You can even get a basque beret embroidered with your favourite (Spanish) football team's logo. Wonder if they do bespoke ones!!
San Sebastian is known by some as the gastronomic capital of Spain. We certainly tried out some pintxos
while we were there. It was a good place to sample some different dishes such as bacalao
(cod - usually dried, reconstituted and fried in batter) and morcilla
(black pudding / sausage) amongst many other choices. They were delicious and the beer and wine that accompanied them were lovely too. As well as the small pintxos, we found a restaurant with tourists in it having a proper meal at 8pm so we ate there! We also had a paella one evening which was good, but it clearly hadn't been cooked in the pan it was served in because there was no crust at the bottom much to Russ's disappointment. We made the most of several bars too, discovering a
bit of Basque tension between those from Pamplona and those from San Sebastian along the way. Luckily we won the barman over as it seems quite unusual to find an extranjero
in a bar who can speak Spanish well enough to have a conversation! There were certainly a lot of foreign tourists around.
Nightlife aside, we spent a lot of time walking around the city, usually in torrential rain. We had to buy new umbrellas because we left our old ones in a bar and forgot them because of a momentary ceasefire from the heavens!! We weren't the only ones walking in the rain and clashes of brollies were frequent. It came as a big surprise to see people paddling in the sea, either with or without an umbrella, and sometimes even without clothes. A 70 year old naturist was not what we wanted to see!! In the summer they say the beaches are heaving with tourists. You can also learn a water sport which is new to us. Paddlesurf involves standing on a surf board and pushing yourself along with a paddle. It looks odd and we think everyone who does this must secretly wish they were a
At the end of the Concha
(We're not comfortable with that word for the name of the beach - in Argentina it had a very different and offensive meaning!) we came across San Sebastian's famous Wind Combs
sculpture. To be honest, we were not too impressed. They looked like rusty old Euro signs falling into the sea. Maybe it was a premonition by the sculptor!!! Nearby we went into a Michelen starred restaurant for a coffee. Not recommended! It wasn't great coffee and it was hardly friendly, plus it was expensive.
The rest of our time was spent wandering aimlessly around the old town which was very nice, even in the rain. On the other side of the river someone has built a monstrosity completely out of keeping with the rest of the city. This is a concert hall which glows in the dark. Had it not been for the rain, we would have had a photo to show you. Another monstrosity is the new San Telmo museum. Guidebooks will tell you it is free but that's only on Tuesdays so we didn't go in!
Despite the rain, we had a good weekend. Because of
the rain, we have no doubt we'll be back. Having said that, students have warned us that it wasn't exactly unusual weather for San Sebastian. They recommend phoning ahead as it can be sunny in Pamplona but dreadful on the coast. We'll see!
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