Spain
San Martin

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

14 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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  • Day52

    SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

    May 21 in Spain

    I liked it from the moment we stepped in the taxi.

    We are staying in Miraconcha, at an AirBnB overlooking La Concha beach. This huge, old flat has a gigantic terrace, so we can have dinner outside, overlooking the bay. The boys are thrilled because they each have their own bedroom.

    The first day was spent exploring streets of the old town, swimming at La Concha, and climbing Mount Urgull to the Castillo de la Mota, a 12th century fortress with amazing outlooks over San Sebastian and its beaches. Today we tried out Zurriola beach, famous for its surf. The boys rented boogie boards and spent a very happy hour catching (and getting pummelled by) big waves. They came out exhausted, with bellies red from sand-scrape and purple/white skin from the cold (only 16C today). I was happy to laze on the beach and watch a bunch of French high school kids at surf-school. Also simultaneously tried to avoid seeing (but it was so hard not to look, too!) the big, naked man walking up and down the beach, Borat style.

    Buz and I started a few morning runs, which brings back memories of the old backpacking days. Glory days. The only downside to Basque country is how much they like their ham. There’s even a ham museum in Spain. Everything has bread and ham... not my thing. Luckily, Jesse and Zach have been cooking for us at nights, getting to be the talented little chefs. We are contributing to the local economy in our excessive consumption of baguettes and gelatos. It’s a very relaxed, easy place to stay.

    MONDAY NIGHT
    San Sebastián (now aka ‘Ham Sebastián’ to us) has given us just the right amount of playtime. Loads of boogie-boarding at Zurriola, the ‘epic’ surf beach, until our fingers were white & numb with cold. We were bruised, battered, and ‘smashed’ by some rather fierce & large waves that often took us by surprise, breaking before we had a chance to escape. Good fun comparing surfing wounds. Some calmer plays in La Concha beach. Lots of hiking up to El Castillo, ‘rock wall climbing’ on the cliff face, frisbee whenever and wherever (thank goodness it broke). Zach had the clever idea of trying to get the frisbee looped around the finger on the Jesus statue. Good thing his aim isn’t that advanced. Pottered around the old town and generally enjoyed this laid-back city that is surprisingly non-tourist focused, despite the great number of tourists they get. In some ways, that is super refreshing. In other ways, you wish that the stores would open on Sundays and you could buy something from the restaurant that does not have ham. On the bright side, I feel like I’ve become good friends with the check-out lady at Spar who I buy groceries from twice a day. I bet she will miss me as I will her.

    Tomorrow is the train to Madrid, and en route to Reykjavik. Adios, Espana!
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  • Day2

    Appreciating the simple things

    September 13, 2017 in Spain

    The waves were huge this evening on La Concha beach. As I enjoyed the childish pleasure of swimming into each one and being thrown around as if in a washing machine, I realised how lucky I am to get such enjoyment from the simple things in life. Swimming in the sea, walking all day, laughing with new acquaintances .... and a hot cup of tea when it's most needed. Thank you @Laurie Reynolds for introducing me to this wonderful little gadget that boils a cup of water in no time at all. Truly life-enhancing!Read more

  • Day48

    Day 45

    July 15, 2017 in Spain

    Just another bus trip today so nothing to report there haha. We had a really good guide and bus driver so I'm going to miss them hopefully I meet them at some stage on the network again. Ciara (the Irish guide) and Didea (the Portuguese driver). Just really lovely people

    We went on a pinxcos crawl last night which is basically a smaller form of tapas which was lots of fun😊

    Photos are from the view along the boardwalk at night (San Sebastián is a very pretty city)Read more

  • Day2

    And here we are again - San Sebastián

    September 13, 2017 in Spain

    We got up nice and early this morning and took the 6.30am airport bus. Within 25 minutes we were hopping off just after Irun, ready to start walking. We met Heather from Canada who was hunting for the non-existent arrows and we all walked together for most of the day.

    As happened last time, I was determined to take the so-called Alpinista route, but we somehow ended up on the boring flatter one. We eventually decided to forge our own trail up the side of the hill, and ended up bushwhacking through some difficult terrain. It felt like a major achievement when we reached the top and saw the amazing views of the Bay of Biscay. Well worth the exertion and the badly scratched legs!

    We lad lunch in Pasai before taking the little boat across the river. After that, we took the GR alternatives to San Sebastián. A great day of walking, conversation and laughter. Time for a swim now!
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  • Day3

    Hobdarribia to San Sebastian

    May 10, 2017 in Spain

    Today's walk was about 25kms, on natural trails and country roads. It even included a little boat ride, across the river at Pasajes. My plan was to take the 'alpinista' option, but I accidentally missed the turn and took the easier (and somewhat boring) route from Gauadalupe to Pasajes.

    When I arrived in San Sebastián, I had a swim in the sea to ease the aches and pains. It felt great, although the water was colder than I expected!

    Blisters on day 1 - not good! Because of all the reports of rain and mud, I'm walking in my favourite hiking boots. I should have known better - my feet get too warm when I wear boots in Spain. I should have brought my lighter walking shoes.

    Early night tonight - looking forward to a long sleep.
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  • Day1

    Camino Del Norte -Day One

    June 9, 2017 in Spain

    Camino Del Norte - Day One
    Irun to San Sebastián
    Distance 26.5km
    Total Ascent 710m Descent 720m (And don't my legs know it!)

    First of all, thank you very much for supporting me in raising some money for the BIRD charity. See my just giving page for details.
    Today began with catching a 7.30am bus from Bilbao to Irun on the French/Spanish border. A great journey but made me realise how hilly this route is going to be. The bus wound it's way through the narrow valleys with villages, farms and industries all jostling for space. There were lots of low dark clouds hanging on top of the hills.
    Finally arrived at Irun station at 9.15am so after a quick cup of coffee and a croissant, off I went on my merry way trying to find the yellow arrows to begin the Camino Del Norte.
    It is only 860km to Santiago De Compostela. I must be off my head.
    I promptly got lost until a friendly alberque manager found me and put me on the path.
    The guide book makes it sound easy. It's not!
    It does say that the first day is probably the most spectacular. It offers incredible views from the high ridge and passes Neolithic dolmens, medieval towers and castle ruins.
    The only problem is that you have to get on the ridge. Almost 700m straight up.
    Thankfully, it was slightly overcast which kept the temperature at around 21c. I, however, was at gas mark 6 for most of the day.
    It was an amazing day with stunning views. A long climb out of Irun followed by a long descent into Pasal Donibane where I caught a small ferry (70 cents) across the harbour with some other perigrinos.
    The numbers of pilgrims are increasing on the Del Norte as the Camino France's appears to be getting busier. 368,000 walked the Camino France's last year.
    After crossing the harbour, it was another long slog up the other side for 700m. I dragged my sorry body up another ridge and back down the other side into the beautiful seaside town of San Sebastián/Donostia. I wound my way through the town trying to find the Albergue with no luck and finally decided that life was too short and I was too tired, so I have checked into a lovely hotel.
    Washed and admin done. I am about to go and find ANYTHING to eat.

    Don't expect future blogs to be so long.

    Do donate to my just giving page for B.I.R.D. It may encourage me to post more pictures etc. Thank you for your support and messages of encouragement. I have a feeling I am going to need them.....😎
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  • Day51

    Day 51: More of San Seb

    April 7, 2017 in Spain

    Time for some more relaxing in this playground of the rich and famous (and us). Had breakfast in the ocean-facing sunroom of our apartment (the housekeeper lives here and breakfast was included), then decided we'd head down onto the beach for a walk. This time we headed westwards to the other headland along the beach.

    Schnitzel had a great time running around on the sand, and there were lots of other locals around walking their dogs too. Tide was quite a long way out so lots of sand to explore and sniff (it's a very gentle slope beach). Got to the end of the beach and the headland, where there's a furnicular heading up to the top, so we bought tickets and jumped on.

    Schnitzel had to pay full price as well so we put him on the seat because, well, why not? Up top you get a fantastic view across the entire bay to the city opposite, so we took some photos and enjoyed the view. There was also a slightly crappy-looking fun-fair scattered around the top, all of which was entirely closed. No great loss! There was also a hotel at the top which was built to look like a castle from the city side, but when you walked around to the ocean side it just looked like a mid-20th century concrete block. Probably very expensive for a Mercure.

    Had a drink and some snacks in the restaurant at the top, enjoying the lovely warm sunshine. After an hour or so we headed back down on the furnicular, amusingly accompanied by the exact same group of people we'd been with on the way up! We'd hoped to have another drink at a restaurant on the water near the bottom, but unfortunately it was closed. Checked out the sculptures at the entrance to the bay, including the man-made blow-holes in the boardwalk which, although cool, absolutely terrified Schnitzel who ran away only to turn back on discovering a boxer dog drooling at him. Very funny.

    Back to the apartment where Shandos had a siesta and I spent a couple of hours writing and catching up on various things in the lovely warm sunroom. Had a chat to the newest couple who'd arrived earlier in the day as well.

    Around 7pm we headed back into the old town for more food and beverages. Saw a beautiful sunset over the bay entrance, then headed into the restaurant area for more delicious pintxos. Went again to a few different places, though everything was a little more expensive tonight as it wasn't 2 euro happy hour night. We revisited out old favourite with the "chipirones en su tinto" (literally squid in his own ink), and at another venue I talked Shandos into trying the Hilda (olive, anchovy and chilli), which she liked as well.

    Also returned to the cheesecake place, though it was absolutely packed tonight! I think we arrived just after a large group had turned up, so things were pretty crazy. Managed to find a spot outside and enjoy our cheesecake before making the long walk home. Schnitzel looked as tired as we did - huge day for him!
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San Martin

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