San Sebastián, Spain Part III

While eating pintxos, someone told me that there’s a four-mile stretch of the Camino de Santiago that you can hike from San Sebastián to Pasaia (or Pasajes).  Many posts suggest that it’s easy to find the beginning.  Give yourself a break if you get lost–we did, and so did a couple we met at a nearby restaurant who had temporarily given up on the idea of finding the start.  Spain-holiday has pretty good instructions on finding the beginning–once you see the stairs below, you’ll know you’re nearing the path.  If you’re in need of some exercise, which after eating non stop, you may be craving, I definitely recommend this hike.

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© Sarah Milstein 2018

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San Sebastián, Spain Part II

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As indicated in the annotated Google map above, there are four beaches in San Sebastián: (1) Ondarreta, (2) La Concha, (3) Zurriola, and (4) Isla Santa Clara.  (The pink hearts on the map denote my favorite pintxos bars and spots for coffee that I mentioned in Part I.)  You can walk the entire length of La Concha and Ondarreta in about 30 minutes, and Zurriola on the other side of the city, is even shorter.  The day we walked along Zurriola, it was drizzling and the ocean was brimming with surfers.

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I explored La Concha and Ondarreta on our last day in San Sebastián.  Unfortunately, right as I settled into the perfect spot in the sand, I had to leave for the airport.  All the more reason to return!

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La Concha (top four photos); Ondarreta (bottom photo).

© Sarah Milstein 2018

San Sebastián, Spain Part I

Before about a month ago, I thought I only knew one person who had been to San Sebastián and I don’t recall him ever saying anything memorable about it.  However, once we started planning this trip, people started coming out of the woodwork to rave about how it has the best food.  They weren’t kidding.  The New York Times 36 Hours in San Sebastian is essentially a menu of which pintxos to order in each bar in the old city.  (An over simplification, but pintxos are similar to tapas.)  If you’re someone like me who gets full quickly, but wants to try everything, this is your city.  If you’re someone who doesn’t get full quickly, this is also your city: the pintxos are plentiful and cheap.

I cannot say enough good things about San Sebastián, which within about 10 minutes of arriving, I already knew it was my new favorite city.  Not only does this city have epic food, it has old world charm and bridges that reminded me of Paris and Prague, modern art exhibitions, gorgeous beaches, and amazing hiking and surfing.  My only complaint is that I had to leave.

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Stay.  We stayed at the One Shot Tabakalera House, which is steps away from the bus station and in a converted tobacco factory, which now houses various art and cultural exhibitions, and several places to eat and drink.  The hotel was a bit of a walk to the pintxos bars, but frankly, I think it was necessary to walk off food between meals.

Eat.  My favorite part about pintxos is you can try a ton of things—they’re relatively cheap (often under 4€ each) and small, although many are very rich—so pace yourself! At Bar Txepetxa, I loved the anchovies with bell peppers and the toothpick with green beans and an anchovy.  I even went back a second night in a row—this coming from someone who doesn’t usually like anchovies (they weren’t so potent and salty as the ones I’ve had before).  At Borda Berri, the crispy roasted octopus was the best I’ve had (and even though not on the menu, they didn’t miss a beat when I ordered it).  The creamy, almost soupy risotto, was delicious as was the slow cooked beef cheeks (carillera de ternera al vino tinto).  People lined up at La Viña for the tarta de queso, which was similar to, but in my opinion, better than cheesecake.  I also loved their albondigas.  At Bar Nestor, we ate tomatoes and peppers, but they’re known for their tortilla, which you apparently have to arrive early for, and they were also serving the largest pieces of meat I’d ever seen.  At La Cuchara de San Telmo, I tried the foie con compota de manzana, and made friends who let me try their blood sausage, pig ear, and an “ugly” tomato.  While everything was good, I think it was too rich for my taste.

I also drank a lot of great coffee.  My favorites were at Sakona (which also had great toasts), Old Town, and Taba.

I took so many photos on our hike to Pasaia, Playa de La Zurriola (the surfer’s beach), and Playa de Ondarreta that I will post these separately.

© Sarah Milstein 2018