Yesterday we made a day trip to the coastal Basque city of San Sebastián. We debated and decided our best mode of transportation would be the bus, if only for the facts that we wouldn’t have to figure out where to park once we arrived in the city and that we wouldn’t waste 20 euros paying to park in a garage. I think we both boarded the bus yesterday at 7:45 am hoping that this would be the trip that redeemed the public transportation system in our minds. After enduring two hours and fifteen minutes each way on a bus that reeked slightly of urine, I still can’t say I advocate the bus over your own personal automobile. I can also safely say that even if you have a iron stomach, the highway between Bilbao and San Sebastián will make you feel queasy. Although it is the one of the most expensive stretches of toll road in all of Europe, it boasts hairpin curves that cause even those cautious enough to take mulitple dramamine (ie me) to turn pale with bus sickness. Once our feet were on the ground though, we found San Sebastián to be quite pleasant, charming, in fact.
San Sebastián’s main attractions are gastronomy and a picturesque beach. The city has a layout similar to Laredo, with a seashell shaped beach encompassed on both ends by hills, which offer impressive views back onto the old town. We roamed the puebla vieja, ate overpriced, but delicious pintxos and tried to deal with the soaring temperatures. I don’t know if global warming is real or not, but there were people sunbathing and swimming in the pristine ocean on the 12th of November at a latitude equal to that of Nova Scotia’s. You can chalk it up to el viento del sur and call it an Indian summer, but I’m not so sure anymore. Either that, or I myself live in a perpetual summer. Anyway, we were wishing we could don our swimsuits and join them.
We hiked up to the top of Monte Urgull along with the rest of the French tourists. I felt satisfied that I’d made it (almost) to the summit on the way down, because every single expression on the travel weary faces headed the opposite direction told me they were wondering why they’d attempt to hike uphill on such a scorching day.
We tucked in at a popular local restaurant, where we treated ourselves to el menú del día. My meal consisted of a first plate of mushroom and chicken risotto, followed by fried pork ribs and french fries, and finished with a coconut flan. Needless to say we took an hour break in the shade after we pried ourselves from our seats.
Afterwards, we walked along the beach to the Palacio Miramar and enjoyed a rest in the shade on the sprawling green lawn. San Sebastián is a great place to spend the day eating, relaxing, sitting on the beach, or people watching. We observed people of all ages, dressed to the nines, out for only a stroll, seemingly without the proposition of really going anywhere. It is glamorous to pass a day like this once in a while, but as a lifestyle, I would go crazy. San Sebastián is posh, upscale, a little expensive and exqusite. It’s Laredo with a makeover. You should go.