Our first night in San Sebastian may have been the best night of our trip thus far. After a night in Barcelona we felt pretty icky and needed a pick-me-up. Goodness were we glad after our gorgeous drive in to San Sebastian that we found Bodega Donostiarra in the heart of the city. We were greeted with a smile, shown around the menu, and then told about Txokoli. We were made to feel like locals. Oh my…it was a perfect night to say the least. When we woke the next morning we all were not about to let the wind and rain beat us out of seeing this new city.
We bundled up in our rain coats, warmest layers, and boots and took a 20 minute walk from our apartment into the city for breakfast at Hogar Dulce Hogar. We chose an apartment just outside of the city because San Sebastian is pretty small, but also pretty pricey. To save a little we decided a little extra walking meant that we could buy a few extra pintxos (Basque’s word for Tapas). We didn’t feel guilty because, after all, we would be getting 40 extra miles of walking everyday. Truthfully we never were bothered by the walk, and it honestly was very cool to get a view of the city this way.
We arrived early enough, to see the town’s morning routine. The vendors were out even with the chill in the air. There was fresh food everywhere on the street. A fresh scent of the ocean left you realizing you were but blocks from a surfer’s paradise. The sweet scent took over the air of the town and I had no complaints especially after the smell of the city that we had become accustom to in Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona.
The people here were friendlier than any the people we encountered in the other cities. They were very open and willing to help. There was a true love for life in this city that was very contagious.
Before the weather worsened and before we got a good cup of coffee, we were determined to see the water, so we took the extra block to wander over to the shoreline. We felt instantly at home as we watched brave surfers take the waves head on that the storm was bringing in.
After breakfast, Wes and Linda decided to wander around the city. We opted to stay in and work for a while. The weather got pretty rough and it ended up being the perfect day for some extra work. Once the storm broke we headed out to explore Old Town and to let our feet guide us through the city.
The city is split by a river and there are gorgeous bridges that connect each peninsula. It is absolutely magical. The town felt somewhere between parts of Paris mixed with classical Spanish decor. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
As we wandered over the bridge, we entered into the hippest area of San Sebastian that is known for the multitude of winding streets, pintxo bars, and the ever flowing streams of Txokoli (simply put this is a white wine with an over 12% alcohol level. They pour it high above the glass to release oxygen into the drink which brings out the flavor. It is very cheap, and I highly suggest nabbing a glass or bottle with friends). The design and type was very interesting throughout the city. All of the pintxo bars had a very distinct type to them that felt like something out of the Flinstones, but every once and a while you would catch some really amazing type that seemed to break the traditional mold.
The rainy days, which were a large part of the beginning of our trip, made me really glad for a few items I packed in my bag such as my backpack from Everlane that kept our laptops, cameras, and other equipment dry. My waxed jacket (this one I am wearing will release in the Fall..see similar) from Bridge and Burn has seriously been the only way I have been able to get through the crazy weather…FOR REAL! This coat has been my daily wear nearly everyday we have been in Spain. If you need a new versatile coat for life or travel check out their coats because I am in love with mine. Also my Madewell biker boots have been great for wandering the cities. Even in the rain they have kept my feet warm and dry and have gained quite the well-traveled patina in the process. These are all things I feel so lucky to have with me especially during a day like this one in San Sebastian.
After nabbing a few pintxos at a traditional bar in Old Town, we saw an amazing staircase that went up the hill so we thought why not take it up. This is how we travel. Whenever we see a cool street that feels “right”, we take it. Sure enough as we wandered up we found the trail that takes you to an amazing view of the city.
We wandered up the hill over the harbor and then around to a gorgeous view of the bay. Even in the cold and drizzle the churning water below was gorgeous and refreshing to see.
Honestly we could have hung out up there forever, watching the water crash against the rocks of the island. The small white lighthouse flickered its light in the waning daylight, and we simply took time to enjoy the view as long as we could without getting a cold.
There is no way that any camera could take in the view and experience of this landscape. The smell alone could never be expressed through a photo. It could only be experienced if you were to stand on that perch and take in the decadent aromas of the air for yourself. Oh the scent of fresh rain, the ocean, and lush trees. It was like heaven.
One thing is for sure, San Sebastian is a true treasure. This city may be one of my favorites in Spain so far. I love the big cities for other reasons, but San Sebastian stole my heart that first full day. I felt alive, renewed, and as if life truly felt clear again. It was the moment in our trip I was waiting for. I never expected it would be this small coastal town that would have brought me to where I needed to be. It still shocks me, but there, even in the chilly rain and blowing sea mist, I felt that I could see clearly again.