Spain
Gipuzkoa

Here you’ll find travel reports about Gipuzkoa. Discover travel destinations in Spain of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

113 travelers at this place:

  • Day7

    We hired a car to drive across the north of Spain for the next five days. Three of those will be in San Sebastian and surrounding areas, and the other two will be in Santiago de Compostela.

    The drive from Barcelona to San Sebastian takes about five hours. It is across a range of different territory, from dry flat plains, lush agricultural land, to green forests closer to the northern coast.

    We took a diversion early in the trip to visit the famous monastery in Montserrat. It is located high on the mountains about an hour from Barcelona. The original monastery was founded about 1000AD, but it has been added to and restored ever since. The basilica here houses the famous Black Madonna, which is an icon to which many pilgrimages are made for religious purposes.

    The real attraction of the place is the extraordinary location, perched as it is on the side of a rocky mountain with amazing views all the way to the outskirts of Barcelona. It is a peaceful and awe-inspiring place, no doubt the reason for the monastery being built there in the first place. There are still 70 monks living there, as there has been for centuries, although they were outnumbered by the tourists by 50 to 1 easily when we were there. We could have spent more time there, but the drive was still largely ahead of us so we left after about an hour or so.

    The rest of the drive was only interrupted by a stop for a late lunch. The route took us through Pamplona, where the running of the bulls festival (San Fermino) starts tomorrow.

    We arrived in San Sebastian, located in Basque territory, about 7pm to be greeted by our kind Airbnb host, Gloria, who is a young Spanish girl who owns a very nice apartment in the centre of town, right near the magnificent beach. The beach here in San Sebastian is known to be one of Europe's best and very well patronised by French and British tourists in the summertime.

    Gloria has given us a list of Pixtos (a Basque word for Tapas) to try and which restaurants to find the best ones. They look delicious and we look forward to trying them all.

    The drive through northern Spain took us through some high country, just alongside the Pyrennees mountain range. It was challenging to get used to the left hand drive. On one occasion I instinctively took off into the left lane rather than the right lane and gave some innocent Spanish driver a near-death experience. But generally it was fine. Sam kept his head down most of the time. The speed limit was 120 on most of the freeways and the traffic was travelling at about 130. The roads were fantastic, although they were many toll roads and I had to pay a toll on at least five occasions, which added up to about 30 euros.
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  • Day8

    Donostia

    July 5 in Spain

    We are in Basque territory. I had heard of this area before but did not realise what it really meant. The Basque people were displaced when the border between France and Spain was drawn up after the war. The Basque people were just forgotten about. They had lived in their own country in this region for centuries. They have their own language, culture and history. They insist they are not Spanish or Catalonian (another group in Spain wanting their autonomy, centred in Barcelona). The Basque people are proud of their heritage and they live in a semi-autonomous area which bridges France and Spain. San Sebastian is the name General Franco, the Spanish dictator, gave this city, but the Basque people call it Donostia.

    The Basque people have their own version of Tapas. They call it Pintxos (pronounced Pinchos). They are proud of this amazing way of presenting food and the chefs in the Pintxos bars are very competitive. The idea is that customers move from bar to bar, having one or two pintxos from each location. It means that people move up to 12 times to have dinner. The streets of the old city are packed with this crowd every afternoon and night, all seeking the best pintxos. It is amazing to see this take place. It's like the whole city is having a progressive dinner.

    The pintxos are only a couple of euros each, and the variety is extensive. It is difficult to capture the atmosphere in photos but here are a few in an attempt to do so. This finger-food is a fantastic way to provide food for a large number of people. They take the idea to the extreme and the taste combinations are very adventurous - too adventurous for Sam. He couldn't bring himself to try any. He thought the octopus legs and fish eyes were lurking in every pintxos. Sam lacks courage when it comes to trying new foods.
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  • Day8

    San Sebastian

    July 5 in Spain

    Sam and I set off to explore the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian. It sits on the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean. It faces north and the aspect of the city is magnificent. The beaches in this city are said to be among the best in Europe and, from what I have seen here and elsewhere, I don't doubt it. The beaches have beautiful sand and they are horseshoe-shaped with boats and ships dotting the waterways. There is a shipping harbour and a river that goes out into the sea.

    There is a fort on each headland of the horseshoe shape, and two hills which can be climbed for a splendid view of the city. The views are quite breathtaking. Sam and I spent a few hours exploring and climbing the headland. The fort has areas called batteries, and one of them is called the Battery of Napolean because he took the city of placed his army in the fort. About a decade later the Spanish reclaimed the city in another battle and the French surrendered in that very fort. There is a sign that marks the spot. It is incredible to be walking in the very place where such major historical events took place.

    There is a museum in the fort, and the chapel is in the centre of the fort right on top of the hill.

    This city has about 400,000 inhabitants and it reminds me of Newcastle in terms of size and scale.
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  • Day8

    Atmosphere and Culture

    July 5 in Spain

    The atmosphere and history of European cities reached out and grabs you and drags you into its spell. It is captivating to learn about the culture and history of each new people, the Basques being a new people and culture to me. They are respectful and do not behave drunkenly or disorderly. They obviously respect their culture and what it means to their families. All the families seem to work together in their communal projects, including the restaurants and shops.

    The culture here does not revolve around massive shopping centres like it does in Australia. The individual shops are all side by side and provide a specialty and they don't try to do everything.

    The historical buildings are all architecturally attractive and they are preserved carefully. There are a couple of modern buildings that have been architecturally bold, like the concert hall and the museum, but they blend with the old rather than create any dissonance.

    The city is a place where one could spend weeks just getting to know and relaxing into its beauty and charm. Its are pity we only have a couple of days.

    I sat for an hour this afternoon and listened to the best busking violinist I have ever heard. I spoke to her when she concluded her time and she told me in a strong accent that she was Russian and here on two weeks holiday. She was clearly a professional and she confirmed that when I spoke to her. She plays in Russia and teaches older students. Her English was poor but when she played it was like we were in a recital in the Opera House. It was a blessed hour in the town square. Many people were stopping, captivated by the surprising quality from someone merely busking. Hundreds of people walking past felt compelled to dig into their wallets to put money into her violin case. How could you not?
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  • Day55

    Donostia-San Sebastian

    October 27, 2016 in Spain

    Although it was a 5 hour train journey from Barcelona, we decided to go to Donostia-San Sebastián in northern Spain to get a taste of the Basque culture which is very unique. The Basque people actually at one point wanted to be independent from Spain (like many regions in Spain) and continue to retain their identity with their own language, traditions and more importantly food! This is also why this city has two given names: Donostia in Basque and San Sebastián in Spanish.

    This region is well known for it's culinary expertise. We enjoyed going to typical Pintxos (pronounced Pinchos) bars where a wide array of tapas would be displayed to choose from. The selections are heavily focused on seafood as San Sebastián is located on the coast but you can also find some good meat as well. We enjoyed trying both hot and cold Pintxos like veal cheeks, octopus, and sea urchin to name a few. Everything we ate was so unique and different and definitely very fresh!

    San Sebastián reminded us a lot of California with its beaches, surfers and chill atmosphere. It was a nice stop to explore this unique region in Spain and we highly recommend it for any foodies.
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  • Day2

    Nach einer unruhigen Nacht im Keller einer Herberge ging es endlich los. Durch Irun Richtung Gebirge. Heftig sag ich euch. Steigungen die ich mir so nicht erträumt hätte aber nach der Mega Anstrengung hat der Ausblick alles wett gemacht. Nach 27 km das gewünschte Etappenziel die kleine Herberge vor San Sebastian erreicht wo wir insgesamt mit vier Pilgern übernachten. Mega Schön und so liebe Deutsche Versorger. Gut das ich das hier mache ❤️❤️❤️Read more

  • Day3

    Nach einem Mega Frühstück und tollen Gesprächen gehts weiter durch traumhafte Natur nach San Sebastian...mega Stadt wunderschöner Strand aber zu laut !!! Für mich gerade nichts. Dort treffe ich auf einen Spanier und eine Dänin und wir laufen kurzerhand die Etappe nach Orio gemeinsam. Hammer tolle und sehr tiefe Gespräche auch wenn wir uns per Worte nicht ganz verstehen. Doch dann in Orio ist die Herberge brechend voll. weiter nach Zarautz und Gerteria wo viel Platz ist in einem Schlafsaal mit über 60 betten🙈bin gespannt aber echt nur tolle MenschenRead more

  • Day4

    Nach einem Mega kargen 1.Frühstück gehts weiter erst zu zweit dann kurzzeitig zu dritt und schnell wieder alleine für ne Zeit was auch wirklich gut ist zwischen durch. Unterhaltung ist sehr schön doch Ruhe zwischendurch auch. Plötzlich taucht mitten im Wald ein Versorgungsauto auf. Geillll 2.Frühstück. Dann gehts weiter mit zwei Deutschen, eine aus Frankfurt und einer aus Wiesbaden. Eine so schöne aber auch steile anstrengend Strecke die durch die vielen kleinen Steine sehr rutschig ist plus Muskelkater in der Wade😉21 km sind um 14:00 Uhr hinter mir und für heute reicht. Nach dem beziehen einer wunderschönen Herberge in einem alten Bahnhof. 56 Betten topp gepflegt, geht es zum Gemeinsamen Essen. Frischer Seehecht in Ei angemacht...ein Traum. Der Rest des Tages nur Ruhe denn die Strecke wird morgen mehr wie heftig 💪🏻Read more

  • Day668

    Adios España!

    April 25 in Spain

    We toured Spain for just over 100 days from January to April. For a fortnight we volunteered at an organic farm in the Sierra Nevada and for a week we stayed in a villa near Ronda with our friends Cath and Paul.

    Vicky, having spent less than 24 hours here previously, was particularly dubious about what we'd find. Neither of us liked the idea of spending much time in high rise resorts occupied predominantly by sun seeking brits who demand full English breakfasts and a good chippy. Whilst we did find areas like this, they were easy to avoid and we discovered so much more in this beautiful and characterful country.

    We are very fortunate to have been able to spend so much time in one country, but Spain is a big place with very different areas and so we'll just have to do our best to summarise our thoughts on it succinctly!

    So, how will we remember Spain?

    🗑 Things we'll be happy to leave behind:

    Scary speedbumps and huge kerbs - we don't like speedbumps at the best of times but the ones in Spain seemed gargantuan. Unless we slowed down to about 10kph they would scrape the underside of van and flip the back end up, so anything that wasn't bolted down would find itself in mid air!

    Lunch time shutting - although things seemed to get better the longer we spent in the country, Spain's shops has the longest lunch time closing of any we'd so far found in Europe. From noon or just before, the town centre shops remain closed until 5:30pm or later. The large out of town supermarkets are open but we missed the interactions with small shop keepers, because we found it difficult to adjust.

    Parking vs camping - Spain has campsites and it has aires and wild camping spots. You are allowed to camp in campsites and but only park in the others, meaning that in the vast majority of places we stayed, we weren't allowed to leave anything outside, such as chairs, drying clothes, mats, the bike or canoe. It was our choice to avail ourselves of the free accomodation and we can see the sense in the regulations, so did adhere to them (many didn't), but it meant we felt more restricted than in some other countries.

    👍 What got a thumbs up?

    Great bins and recycling - All domestic refuge and recycling is disposed of via communal bins so we were never far from a place we could empty our rubbish. There are also standard bin colours throughout the country, which made things easier for us.

    Free places to stay with free services - we spent a grand total of €74 on parking and services and 60 of this was for 2 nights secure parking in central Barcelona. There were some beautiful wild camping spots and plenty of free areas de autocaravanas whose services remained accessible throught the winter. There were only a few urban areas that were struggling to cope and had 'no van' signs up.

    Good quality roads - having spent last winter in Italy, we were super impressed by the quality of the roads. On the whole they had smooth surfaces, were well layed out and other drivers were reasonable. The low population density meant we often had the highway to ourselves. The only difficulties we encountered were the pull offs used to cross the carriageway (like roundabouts with the main road running through the centre), these were fine once we got used to them. Torrential rain in March also caused road closures and meant you needed to keep your wits about you.

    Eating out - we really enjoyed the tapas culture and it was cheap enough for us to eat and drink out regularly. The food wasn't spectacular like it had been in Italy, but it was tasty and changed with the regions, so there were often new dishes to try. Bars would open from 12noon or 1pm and everywhere gave the option of alcohol free beer, sometimes on tap. Excellent for when you are keeping an eye on your weight and health.

    Access to Nature - Spain has a huge number of national parks, regional parks and natural parks, all with good parking and walking trails. The countryside was beautiful and often stunning. We loved watching the numerous Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, as well as spotting more birds we'd never seen before, including a Wallcreeper and Iberian Magpies.

    Cleanliness - on the whole we found only small amounts of litter and rubbish. Some areas had a problem with dog mess, but we saw a lot of street cleaners and litter pickers in towns and cities and they made a big difference.

    Open throughout winter - in other countries, many shops, attractions and services shut down out of season, but apart from a few hyper touristed areas such as the Costa Brava resorts, places remained open.

    Low population density - where the UK ranks 10th highest of all European countries in terms of population density, Spain comes in at number 34. Sure, there were places like Madrid and along the south coast where the high rises seemed endless, but for the most part it was sparsely populated and very easy to find some rural patch of peace and quiet, even at the beach.

    Fuel costs - we travelled several thousand kilometres in Spain, but it didn't break the bank because on average we paid €1.19 for a litre of diesel. We could have bought it for less, but chose to pay extra at stations with van facilities and those that employed people at the pumps. Spain's youth unemployment is high at 36% and this was one of the ways we contributed to the economy.

    Horse culture - ok, so this was more a thumbs up from Vicky than from Will, but we may well have seen more horses in Spain than in all the other countries we've visited put together! We saw a lot of men riding, as opposed to just women and girls we'd expect to see in other places and many of the horses were of arab descent, making them a joy to watch.

    👀 Overall observations:

    》The weather was mixed while we were in Spain. Although undeniably warmer than in the UK, we had our share of snow, sleet and ice, even experiencing one night at -12.3°C; the coldest temperature of our trip. In March it warmed, but the rains came, causing landslides and road closures. This being said, we still got our fill of southern sun!

    》Before we entered Spain, Will had learned a good amount of Spanish on Duolingo. However, this was Mexican Spanish and the language it is most similar to, Castilian Spanish, wasn't the first language in the regions of Catalonia or Galicia, nor was it the only language in Basque. It was interesting to see the changes, but they often made communication and comprehension more difficult for us.

    》As we left Northern Spain and entered the central band, we were shocked by the vast areas of exposed, dry earth that seemed, to our eyes, almost like desert. Many of the reservoirs we'd seen were well below expected levels and had been for some time. We feared the further south we went the worse it would get, but to our relief the mountains and the change from sea to land brought about more precipitation. The soil type also changed and plants were able to get a foothold. We found the these changes fascinating and thought provoking.

    》The police had more of a presence on motorhome aires here, than in any other country we've visited. The Guardia Civil would often drive by on a morning and evening, noting down number plates and checking on the state of the aire. They were friendly enough and we were never made to feel unwelcome.

    🤔 Our Treasured Memories:
    (In no particular order)

    ☆ City visits: bar nights in Barcelona and Madrid and spontaneous street dancing in the latter. Will fulfilled his ambition of visiting the remarkable Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and we were both captivated by Seville's Alcázar.

    ☆ Stunning Sierra Nevada mountain landscapes covered in almond blossom. Vicky will always remember riding through it!

    ☆ Charming Alpujarran white villages

    ☆ Tapas culture

    ☆ Sand, Sea and yes, Sun. Will got in plenty of swimmimg, snorkelling and even a little surfing.

    ☆ Countryside walks and the wildlife we discovered on them

    If you've managed to get to the end of this lengthy outpouring, well done! As you can probably tell, we think Spain is brilliant. Sure, it has some drawbacks, but these are outnumbered and outweighed by the huge list of wonderful experiences the country has to offer. We felt very relaxed living in the van here and if it wasn't for the impending heat, we would have found ourselves very tempted to stay!
    Gracias España!
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  • Day666

    It had been a long day, but the sight of the parking place at Listorreta lifted our spirits. Set in a Natural Park the rest area with a 2 place van aire was a green haven, surrounded by oak, ash, elder and hazel all bursting forth with bright new Spring leaves. A central meadow area sat behind a wooden post fence, speckled with buttercups and an array of other wildflowers. Picnic benches and brick bbq areas were provided and used by a trickle of people during our stay. What a lovely peaceful place to spend our last few nights in Spain!

    There were plenty of walks in the surrounding woodland (a beautiful black horse came along one of them each evening to canter in the meadow). We'd planned to do a hike but late on our first morning, a British van pulled up and we met Sandie. Sandie had retired and together with her old Springer Spaniel Rosie, they'd been travelling in the van for a year. We made coffee and tea and sat out on one of the picnic benches putting the world to rights. Rosie was deaf and fairly blind and we were really pleased that Poppy got on well with her, even having the confidence lay down in the long grass and enjoy the sunshine.

    Sandie was very easy to talk to and we got on so well that we occupied the picnic table again in the afternoon- this time with red wine, sangria and strawberries. When comparing motorhoming experiences we found she had written a book: 'A Blonde, a Dog and a Motorhome'.

    Although it wasn't what we had planned, it was a fitting and enjoyble end to our time in Spain/ beginning of our journey home, to be sitting in a meadow surrounded by familiar woodland trees and chatting to a friendly Brit. It seemed even more fitting that overnight it began to rain and a steady drizzle persisted as we filled, emptied and said goodbye to Sandie, who was also making her way towards the UK, although over the course of a month instead of a week like us.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Gipuzkoa, Provincia de Guipuzcoa, Guipuzcoa, Guipuzcua, غيبوثكوا, Guipúzcoa, Província de Guipúscoa, Γκιπούθκοα, Provinco Gipusko, استان گیپوسکوا, Guipúscoa, Guipuscoa, Gipuskoa, Գիպուսկոա, ギプスコア, გიპუსკოა, Гипускоа, 기푸스코아 주, Ipuscoa, Provinsia de Gipuzkoa, Gipuskoa provincija, Gipuskoja, Prowincja Guipúzcoa, Provincia Guipúzcoa, Guipúzcoa eanangoddi, จังหวัดกีปุซโกอา, Guipúzcoa ili, Гіпускоа, GUI, گیپوسکوا, გიპუსკოაშ პროვინცია, 吉普斯夸省

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