Hidden in the deep mountains of the Basque Country of Spain, San Sebastian is an easy spot to be overlooked by many travellers. In San Sebastian the locals speak Basque a very different version of Spanish although the Basque people are a lot more forgiving then the Catalan people when it comes to attempting to speak their language. Like Catalonia the Basque Country were immensely affected by Dictator Franco's repressing and are one of the regions in the fight to make Basque a separate country of its own.
With more michelin star chefs per captor then any other city in the world San Sebastian is one of the greatest places to feast. Instead of tapas the Basque Region have pincho's, miniature sized tooth picked foods. Bar counters are lined with plates of every type of combination possible where you fill your plate with as many delights as you can and then your tooth picks are counted at the end and you pay per pick. Each night we would find ourselves on an unofficial pincho's bar crawl, feasting from one place to another. Our favourite by far was La Mejillonera tucked down a little lane way it was the perfect seafood haven. Marinated mussels, tender calamari and the best patatas braves I have ever had in all my time in Spain. The place was packed as we stood elbow to elbow, bells rung, everyone was screaming orders it was true Spanish mayhem, it was brilliant. We had already learnt that it is good manners in Spanish culture to throw dirty used napkins on the floor but La Mejillonera had taken it one step further with any used mussel shells also getting tossed. I could see in the back of my mind my mothers piercing disapproving eyes if she were to see me doing something so atrocious. I laughed at the thought as we spent all night slurping up the delicious mussels and happily chucking them about, when in Spain.
Voted as having some of the best beaches in all of Europe San Sebastian is also another popular surfing hotspot. Although after surfing in Portugal we found the swell not to be up to our now Portuguese high standards and never bothered hiring a board. Instead we spent a lot of our time exploring the beautiful streets finding some great vintage hide aways and one off little boutiques.
The weekend we were in town happened to be the same weekend the International Film Festival was in town also. It was all lights, camera, action with red carpets lining the streets. Everyone was in extreme party mode with even shops staying open till midnight giving out free wine and beers. Fireworks lit up the sky and music blared until the early morning. The Spanish truly love any excuse to throw a fiesta and party hard. Its one of the beautiful parts of there culture and there way of living that I enjoy most.
Up on the top of a hill over looking the city and sea was a statue of Jesus Christ. The walk to the very top was only 20 minutes from the city. On our last evening just before sunset we began the climb to Jesus. As we wound our way up the steep hillside we found ourselves amongst the most beautiful gardens. The views from above were sensational, like promised they overlooked the entire city. We were on top of the world! as we sat with Jesus waiting for the sun to finally set on our last day in Spain.
I think to get a true representation of Spain as a country it is important to delve deeply into the different regions it has formed amongst it. They are all so diverse with so many different views and ways of living you can not go to just one or two cities in Spain and have a true grasp on it. I loved the beauty of the Basque Country. It is definitely a region I am looking forward to coming back to and exploring deeper and further as there is something so mysterious and alluring about it to me.
The Wanderer's Daughter xx