Day 50: San SebastianApril 6, 2017 in Spain
Another UNESCO free day today! Not that I'm looking forward to them particularly, but they do tend to take up a lot of time! We hung around in Bilbao for a while at the apartment before setting off around 11am. Today we were heading eastwards towards the French border, and the famous seaside resort town of San Sebastian. First stop was a lookout over an island called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.
Beautiful little spot, overlooking a tiny with a monastery and a dramatic man-made bridge across to it. Considered walking down and across to it, but the cliffs were quite steep and neither Schnitzel nor I felt super up for it. Settled for the viewpoint instead and a couple of pintxos at the nearby restaurant.
Back on the road for the 90 minutes across to San Sebastian, which for the last hundred or so years has been a hot-spot for rich European vacationers and fancy restaurants. Apparently it has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in Europe! All very expensive places though, so we'd be passing on that but hoping the cuisine has trickled down to more affordable places!
Checked into our apartment with no problems, and we've got a great spot high on the cliff above the bay. Since the beach view apartment was unoccupied for tonight, they let us upgrade for a tiny charge which was nice. Enjoyed the view briefly before heading out to meet our local guide at 4pm.
Shandos had arranged for a "locals on tap" tour around the city through Intrepid, and after about a 25 minute walk around the bay we met our guide Tomas. Although not a native here, his wife was from a nearby town and they'd lived here for a few years. We walked around for an hour, him explaining the history of the town and the culture of Basque country, as well as showing us some great places to eat.
After he departed we crossed the river to the ocean beach where quite a few people were out surfing! Hard to believe, as the water must've been very cold. Air temperatures are around 15 degrees, though it feels quite nice in the sunshine. Lucky for us, Thursday is "pintxo poté" night; essentially happy hour where you get a drink and a pintxo from the bar for 2 euros at most venues. So we cruised around and visited a whole bunch of places picking and choosing!
The most common thing here seems to be creamy mashed seafood (crab, codfish, octopus etc) on a slice of baguette bread, but you can get plenty of other things too. The most unusual things we had were octopus stewed in squid ink (delicious, and surprisingly sweet), and I had the "first ever" pintxo created, known as the Hilda after a Rita Hayworth character. It's a skewer with an olive, an anchovy, and a pickled chilli pepper. Tomas had recommended it even though I don't like olives, don't like anchovies and don't particularly enjoy pickled chillies either, but it was actually really good! The anchovy was totally different to what I expected, crunchy rather than the stale crap from a can I've had in the past.
Last stop for the night was a place where they bake giant cheesecakes on the tables in front of you, so we had a portion (three large slices) along with coffees before staggering back home very full. Just in time to discover how high on the cliff our apartment was - 241 stairs up, I counted! Then up a short shallow hill, another 15 stairs into the building, plus of course another 20 stairs inside to our room. Feel the burn!Read more