San Sebastian is a beautiful coastal town of Northern Spain, right next door to France. The streets are bursting with locals enjoying life and the plethora o’ pintxos bars (tapas bars, that is) to choose from are so overwhelming, you will not know where to start. Street after street, bar after bar, the city is literally overflowing with food choices. Fresh squid, seafood, fish… it’s all spread out on top of crostinis, small plates and piled high on skewers (pintxos, or pinchos, means “spike” in Spanish). Take what you want, eat what you can; in the end YOU tell the man behind the counter how many you consumed, and your bill is printed accordingly (they believe in the honor system). Cups of local wine are merely €1, and each pintxo is equal in price or slightly more, depending on the bar you’re eating at. Hardly any seats are present, and that’s fine; you don’t want to sit. Locals stand at the bar or at high tables conversing about the day, the night ahead or reminiscing of days past. No stress. No business. No worries. Just happy, happy people.
The beach is amazing, surrounded by mountains and a cute harbor with candy-colored sailboats. You will find Spanish as well as Basque language being used, as well as signs printed in both languages. I had no problem using the Spanish I know everywhere I went, however I did hear some people had issues regarding confusion when using maps. I say just “wing it” and walk without having any sort of direction! That’s the best way of seeing a city (in my opinion).
So how exactly can a place this awesome be so terrible at the same time?? Madrid. I blame it all on Madrid. I contracted a delightful parasite from fried sardines in Madrid, and the little asshole decided to join me for the rest of my trip. This lucky little jerk got to see Bordeaux, San Sebastian and had a tiny glimpse of Paris, including a 16 hour bus ride one day and a 3 hour bus ride the previous day. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper. Not only was I more miserable than I had ever have been, I had to stare at food. Amazing food. Delicious food. I made myself eat the first night, and regretted it within the next hour. So, basically, I need to take another trip back to this phenomenal Spanish Riviera city and do nothing but stuff my face to make up for a good time lost.
However, I MADE myself leave my hostel and do some sightseeing (bad, bad idea…). I met some really cool people (in between bathroom runs), and I ate some of the best seafood I have ever had (although Mr. Parasite didn’t seem to agree). The city is super close to Biarritz, France, so I would suggest if you are looking for the perfect beachy get away to take a couple of weeks and visit both (they’re like a 40 minute car ride apart). If you are looking for accommodation in San Sebastian, I stayed at the Urban House Hostel, which couldn’t be in a better location. It’s literally right in the middle of all things amazing, a 1 minute walk to the beach and centrally located to all the best pintxos bars. Most importantly, it’s totally affordable, safe and comfortable, although they do not provide enough lockers for your bags. I hate the idea of leaving my stuff lying around, however I did not feel as though I needed to worry.
All in all, I’m sure there is way more activities to partake in than hangin’ out in the bathroom. I just wasn’t fortunate enough to enjoy my time like I had hoped. What I did get to see and experience though was absolutely amazing, and I will return soon to eat and relax on the beach….
Have you had the opportunity to see more of this city than I did?? I’d love to hear about it!