San Sebastián rest day!

 
 
 



Yes, this blog has been posted about 2 weeks late, but I’ve been super busy climbing and enjoying life in the South of France. Thanks to a few summer thunderstorms that have slowed us down, this post has finally taken priority over going wine-tasting and eating more goat cheese..

When Chris and I arrived in San Sebastian after a pretty full day of climbing (and an even more epic search to find parking) we were pretty damn hungry and were ready to go out and do some pintxo-bar hopping. For those who don’t know, Spanish cuisine is pretty famous for its “tapas” which are pretty much small samples of food that are served on small plates, such as tortilla española, chorizo, stuffed peppers, fish.. etc. In the Basque country, where the local language is basque, tapas translate to “pintxo” (the “x” is pronounced as “sh” so “pintxo” is pronounced as peench-o”) and they are typically served on small pieces of bread. As a historial side note, basque is said to be the oldest language in all of Europe whose roots are still unknown, though it is definitely not derived from a romantic language. It’s totally different from Spanish and really rather interesting. If you go to the Basque country, you definitely have to go pinxo-bar hopping, aka go to different bars and have a drink and 1 or 2 tapas at each place. Though I do suggest you proceed with caution if you’re on a budget; while individual tapas are pretty cheap (1.50-3 euros each ), if you’re hungry this little excursion can add up pretty damn quickly. Before we set out Chris and I decided to be forward thinking and look up the list of the best pinxo bars in San Sebastian, the majority of which were located in the old town, where we were staying. So, with a list of 10-15 bars we set off with high hopes to fill our stomachs with some delicious Basque country pintxos and maybe try some local cider, or sidra, the typical alcohol of choice. We started off at Paco Bueno , which was supposed to be a traditional pintxo bar. I say “supposed to be” instead of “is” because we never actually ate there… it was closed. As were the next 3 pinxo bars we went to. We managed to squeeze in one recommended bar on the list called Bar Gandarias.  were we sampled some really good solomillo, or sirloin steak, which is another Basque speciality. We stared our pintxo bar hopping late and on possibly the worst day to go, Sunday night, so out of a desperate hunger we walked into the next bar that looked sort of busy and open, which had the not so classy name of “Bar Sport”. However, despite the low expectations its name inspired, Bar Sport was as surprisingly decent find. We had around 4 tapas there until last call around 1 AM for a cheap price. We had one more night in San Sebastian the next day so we vowed to go again, hoping to have a bit more luck with finding recommended pinxo bars that didn’t have the “en vacaciones” (on vacation) sign posted on their door. 

 
Morcilla (blood sausage with rice)… so damn good.. so damn happy I am not a vegetarian anymore

 

 

The next morning we slept in and went out to explore San Sebastián. We started by hiking up to the top of some old bunkers from which you have a decent view of the city. I say decent because there’s quite a lot of trees that block the view, but as a major fan of trees I can hardly object to their presence. San Sebastián is gorgeous; it sits right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the Cantabric Bay, or Bay of Biscay as some call it. It houses some pretty nice beaches (See photo) as well as a prominent surf culture. Eventually we headed down to one of the beaches called Playa La Concha with the intent of swimming. Despite the fact that it was June it was cloudy and not very warm, so I, along with a new Australian friend we met at the hostel named Fi, sat on the sand soaking up the not-sun and watched Chris run in and jump off one of the floating docks-his courage didn’t change my mind because he looked freezing when he returned. It was about 1 or 2 and the beach was pretty empty and we, fueled only by the free cereal provided by our hostel, were pretty hungry so we looked up a good place to get a decent menú del día. Personally, I am a big fan of the menú del día during lazy travel days… or lazy days in general. For those who don’t know the menú del día is provided by a lot of restaurants and consists of two meals, generally a starter and than a main course, dessert or coffee, and free bread and a beverage. Most of the time you get to pick between several options for each meal and they bring it out to you in order. Basically you spent 1-2 hours eating lunch and relaxing.. you can easily stretch it along further than that and into the siesta that most restaurants take around 4-6. For the amount of food you get, menú del día is usually a pretty sweet deal. But, if you  want to get any sort of work done afterwards I tend to find it a task that is close to impossible to accomplish. The menú del día is not only a dining choice but a lifestyle… by ordering one you have decided that the rest of your day will be tranquilo., or decisions and tasks will either be completed at a snail’s pace or put off until the next day. So, we had our menú del día (which was quite good.. I had peppers filled with cod puree, chicken  and a coffee) It was right about time for a siesta so we headed back to the hostel and while Chris took a power nap I chilled and wrote in this fabulous blog. Afterward we both went for individual runs ( since both of us like to run alone and Chris would probably kick my ass anyways) along the entire beach promenaded that hugs the coast. The sun had burned through the cloudy sky and now the promenade- and the beaches- were pretty much packed.. running alongside the beach consisted in me playing frogger half the time or running in the bike lane. This is one thing I definitely miss about the states (and Davis in particular)- going on really long runs where you are pretty much guaranteed to be more more or less alone with little or no stop-lights along a bike path or trail etc. Still, this run was pretty nice- I think it was about 8-9 miles and it came with an amazing sea-side view for the entire length of the run.

We got back, showered, and went for pintxo bar hopping round 2, this time leaving much earlier. However, we were yet again shut down as most of our destinations ended up being closed. So this time ,we just winged it and went to places that we hadn’t read about. At the end of the night I had a delicious Crème brûlée (I tried really hard to add in all the right accents)  at our final stop, which I have recently discovered is the exact same thing as crema catalana, a dessert catalans like to boast is their own unique culinary invention. Well, I hate to burst their bubble but literally it’s the same thing people.. even on wikipedia they put “crema catalana” as another name for Crème brûlée. But hey, I’m not hating; you can call it whatever you want, it is delicious!

The next morning we packed up and headed back to go do some more rock climbing at Valdegovía!!  Sorry I failed as a photographer in San Sebastián.. didn’t take too many photos!

 

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