Just back from a wonderful 5 day break in San Sebastien, Spain. Only a 4.5 hour drive from here so easily accessible for a long weekend. We booked an AirBnB apartment but the choice was a little restricted as we needed parking for the car – this meant being on the outskirts with a fair walk into the centre. Managed to fit the bikes into the Land Rover which made things easier – great for exploring and getting our bearings on the first day but we subsequently used the car to get into the city having worked out some good parking spots.
The apartment was just on the edge of the city in the University district on the western side and completely surrounded by trees and greenery – incredible to be so close to the city and the sea and yet out in the countryside.
Living near Cahors and hours away from the sea it was lovely to spend some time on the coast – just watching the waves and the light…
We were near the Western side of the large bay of San Sebastien with an elegant promenade running all the way round to the old town on the Eastern side.
My usual habit is to head out in the morning for breakfast and we managed to keep to that routine, although typically some hours later than I am used to! The freshly squeezed orange juice was amazing, the Spanish coffee less so. We avoided the pastries for breakfast (wasted calories apparently), but mainly because they were likely to disappoint compared to the French offerings and we wanted to sample the local fare as much as possible. This came down to a choice between different types of spanish tortilla or tostada (toast). The tostada can be served with jam, but the locals prefer it with olive oil and tomato and it was delicious – as was the tortilla (strangely served with bread).
Having worked out a parking strategy we went out each evening and enjoyed a lovely walk along the promenade towards the old town to find something to eat.
This area is packed with what you would like to call tapas bars, but in this region they serve pintxos rather than tapas – a similar concept but nearly all the pintxos are served on a piece of bread.
I get complaints if I post too many food pictures, but the fresh fish was wonderful – we tried monk fish, turbot and sea bass and they were all amazing. We had to ask for a serving for one person as it was invariably enough for two!
On the second day we walked up to the castle which is above the old town at the eastern end of the bay. There are lots of old defensive batteries and cannons with complete command of the harbour down below. Plenty of people swimming and surfing and the water was still warm (apparently)
Heavy rain was forecast for the next day so we drove along the coast to Bilbao to visit the incredible Guggenheim museum and it didn’t disappoint.
Designed by Frank Gehry, the intention was to create a building that would be as interesting as the art works and exhibits that were contained within. In many cases the building actually surpassed the contents with it’s incredibly complex shapes and titanium panels that change colour with the light.
Of the exhibits “The Matter of Time” installation by Richard Serra was the most impressive – huge elliptical/toroidal structures made of rusted steel plate. Walking through the structures was a memorable experience – changing your perception of the space around you and confusing your mind so that it became difficult to pass through without touching the sides.
On the last day we ventured along the coast road to the West to a small but very active fishing village called Getaria, with a beautiful sandy and deserted beach.
Lovely boats in the harbour and about a dozen seriously big fishing boats.
We found a small shop on the quayside to stock up with local wine and olive oil and get a recommendation for lunch – barbequed fresh fish..
We had a sea bass (for one!) – so simple but absolutely delicious.
Back in San Sebastein for the evening there was a beautiful sunset over the bay as we walked along the promenade into the old town.
Deboned rack of Basque lamb with chargrilled leeks for dinner (well we had fish at lunchtime)..
Breakfast on the last morning before the drive home was the traditional tostada with olive oil and tomato…
What a wonderful week…