San Sebastián (Spanish) or Donostia (Basque) lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km (12 miles) from the French border, and an hour and a half travel time from Bilbao via bus.
The city is well-known for its Basque food and art culture; holding numerous food festivals and an annual international film festival which brings scores of celebrities from all over Europe to the city (in fact Hugh Jackman was here for the film festival last week). It has fantastic city beaches with a complementary temperate climate, and as such, San Sebastián is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.
Like most European cities, San Sebastián also has an old town, which was surrounded by walls up to 1863 – and is where most of the renowned pintxos bars are centred. You can actually pick up a brochure from the tourist office in order to navigate (eat) your way through the Parte Vieja, visiting no less than 8 separate bar suggestions.
San Sebastián is a pretty city, with parks and plazas and beaches and old churches all worth a visit. Due to the sheer number of cafes and bars, you can rest your feet pretty much anywhere by grabbing a coffee, which is exactly what I have done over the last couple of days here.
I also visited the beach to top up my tan and managed to come away with most of the sand as well. There was a slight wind and so I have sand everywhere – it’s really fine and sticks to everything! (I did however discover the beach showers and locker rooms this morning as I walked along the esplanade. They have an entrance like a subway – which is what I thought it was yesterday).
It’s a good thing I went to the beach yesterday. It started raining last night with a fantastic lightning storm and I went to sleep to the sound of rain on roofs and woke up to the same (best sleep in about 8 weeks).
Today there are fewer people wandering the streets; and for me, today I have more time to shop as my train to Porto leaves at 7pm tonight.
It’s now 10:43am, I am writing this sitting in a cafe with my second cortado of the day, and the proud owner of a pair of bensimon sneakers, a long skirt and a cross-body handbag…
I have no idea how I am going to get these into my pack.
There is a chic casualness I love about Spain. I have found Spanish women look effortlessly so well put-together. It’s made me think about what I wear as I walk past women at 10am on a random Friday dressed little black dresses and slouchy boots or skinny jeans, oversized white shirts and sandals.
Apparently the shopping is also fantastic in Portugal so that may prove logistically difficult for me. At least my flight from NYC to Oaxaca has a 2 checked bag policy.