As we headed south from France towards the border, we noticed that the mountains started appearing on the horizon, which after nearly a week of flat plains was a welcome change in scenery – I was just a little worried about taking Gunter uphill…
We enter country number two with little fanfare. We didn’t even see a ‘Welcome to Spain’ sign, just a small European Union symbol with Spain written inside. Those mountains that were looming came, and… well, as I learnt in Wales a week earlier, it gets up them, just rather slowly, having to use 3rd gear.
Arriving in San Sebastian was challenging. We looked for some outdoor car parks (since we can’t park underground), however, it was unsuccessful. We circled a few times, hoping to find a street park – also unsuccessful. Started driving out of town, and managed to find something not too far from a bus stop, which worked out well.
Sadly, this meant that we arrived after 3PM, which is when most kitchens close – and don’t reopen until after 7PM. Undeterred, we headed into the narrow bar filled alley looking for food – and did we ever find it! The streets and the bars were still packed with people, and most bars still had pintxos sitting on the tops of the bar table. A small observation, it looked like most bars were using the same weird font – that looked a little like Comic Sans, with serif. Risa had saved a few bars that she wanted to visit, and luckily one still had pintxos left for sale. We planned do a bar crawl, eating a few plates at each, picking/sampling the best from each. But, I was hungry, and I wanted to eat the whole restaurant!
The food was amazing, like miniature works of art – I was too excited to eat, and didn’t put much attention into photos. It was washed down with some local cider, which after the sweet fizzy drops we’d been enjoying in Normandy, was flat and sour/vinegary – at least it was only €1 for a glass.
The second bar was considerably less impressive, but it was open. It seemed to be aimed at tourists, so my expectations were lowered somewhat. They were still super tasty, though my hunger might have skewed it a little.
We still had amazing weather, with blue skies, warm air, and sunshine. There was a small hill just next to town, which we climbed to get a better view of the town and coastline – which was beautiful. It was interesting to see the Basque flag flying, rather than a Spanish flag – which was much like we saw in Catalunya a few years ago – both regions want independence.
We walked across the river to the beach, and while it looked amazing, there weren’t many people in there swimming. We dipped a toe, and satisfied ourselves with that as it was still freezing!
Amazingly, after wondering around a little, and relaxing by the beach, the bars were starting to open again! There was one recommended by Lonely Planet just around the corner, so we headed there. The food looked (and was) amazing, and once again, we got a little over zealous, ordering a little too much food – though successfully finishing it all.
It’s still surprising how long the sun stays out, as it was still hot/sunny at 8PM. It was also amazing to see so many people still out and about – and they didn’t look like tourists.
We had a quick trip to the cathedral, which was beautifully lit up by the low sunlight hitting the stained glass windows, and then we made our way back to Gunter and drove as far as I could while fighting a food coma. Sadly, that was only 50km outside of town, and a dirty looking roadside rest stop car park. It was dirty and noisy, but we both needed sleep!