San Sebastián Spain : September 2017
We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Donostia, the Basque name for San Sebastián, most things here are written in both Spanish and Basque.
Gros, the area of SS where we are staying, is just over the bridge from the main part of the city and is well know for its surfer beach and hence it’s slightly more laid back vibe. It’s only a 20 min walk across the bridge so we rate it as a good choice. The apartment is owned by Lourdes and she was extremely hospitable. Provided us with everything we needed as well as some fresh tomatoes and peppers from her garden.
We have been to Donostia before and really fell in love. It’s just a beautiful city. With beaches and shopping and amazing architecture; then we come to the food which as you know features high in our list of life’s priorities. The pintxos bars are world famous. Pintxo means stick, the idea being that these are mini mouthfuls of deliciousness pinched together with a stick. Not to be confused with tapas ( although I think it’s a fine line). They are not as bread based. The secret is to not only order the cold ones on the counter ; but to also order hot ones from the kitchen which are freshly made. And then each bar has its speciality. Sounds like Logroño? Very similar.
So Lourdes told us that Gros was as good for pintxos but without the bodies packed together like in the old city. She gave us 2 recommendations and both were right on the mark!
I’m digressing from our story but in fact my poor darling husband Chris started feeling ill, so our first night was spent at home with him in bed. Although we did manage some bread and yummy jamon!
Next day he felt well enough to venture out BUT it rained, no it poured! Bucketing down with a force preventing us leaving the house. So we stayed and read and relaxed and waited for the rain to stop ,eventually it did.
We wandered around Gros and admired the beautiful architecture . We had a look at the prices of apartments and realized that San Sebastián including Gros were really quite pricey. In fact I read that it’s one of the most expensive areas in Spain. I suppose who wouldn’t want to live with 3 beaches, shopping and food Mecca on your doorstep.
We had done the city in depth a while ago as we had stayed for 3 days but this time we went into the old part of the city and explored the pintxos bars for a late lunch. Not a bad idea as they are less busy. Seriously, last time we came you had to literally squeeze your body into a bar to get near a pintxo. So this was a much more pleasant experience. We had a ‘bola de bosque’ which were croquettes made with seasonal mushrooms. We had foie la plancha which is foie seared on a grill with a grape sauce. Hard to describe the food as it’s a myriad of tastes in a small mouthful. We had to find the cheesecake place we remembered and we were quite pleased we could. Here they serve a ‘queso torta’ which is essentially a baked cheesecake. You order one portion and we could barely manage to finish it. We also ordered a portion of boquerónes( anchovies) which were the best I’ve eaten. A lovely lunch followed by a walk around town. Maybe we bought a pair of sneakers or a few bits and bobs for ourselves and then home for a siesta.
That evening we started our pintxos crawl at 8.30pm. On Thursdays, it’s good to know they do ‘pintxo-pote’. This is a free drink with your pintxo, or a free pintxo with your drink. It’s normally the house specialty but still it’s a good deal. Of course the Parsley’s pursuit of the perfect pintxo meant the bar we eventually settled on, a place named Bergera, was the only bar in Gros not offering pintxo-pote. We ordered some cold and some hot with my improving spanish and found a spot to sit and enjoyed our pintxos. Because we enjoyed them so much and because we saw a few other delicious things to try we ordered another round. See pics as I cannot quite remember each one. Again one featured foie la plancha and one a sardine. Our staple diet it seems. It was a lovely place and a lovely atmosphere with people just chilling and chatting. After this we took a long walk around Gros admiring the many bars. Really nice ones from a Ginoteria to artisanal beer bars. Then we landed up at Senra, another of Lourdes recommendations. Here we decided on a dessert that brought back a memory for me! All my life when I ate French toast at a restaurant or at someone’s house it was just not the same as the one my grandmother made me. Her’s was sugary and oh so delicious. Through the years I added sugar to my kids fresh toast to get a caramel flavour but it was never right. Now at this restaurant we ordered torrijas and what arrived was exactly how my meme made it! Thick slice of bread with an almost vanilla cinnamon custardy type of sauce soaked into the wedge of bread. Indescribable for me and I’m so happy I rediscovered this childhood memory.
The walk back home up the steep hill was the best thing to walk off those calories.
The next morning is ‘the day’! Time to pick up our camper van. I’m sure you will remember from last time that the camper van depots are never in the city or close to public transport so this time was no different. We had to collect from a depot close to Hondarriba which thankfully is close to the airport ( where we have to drop our car off) . We had left Gros early as we decided to spend some time exploring the coastal town of Hondarriba and have a nice lunch.
All very well but as we get to the car park it pours and pours and pours. And you would think that we would not be put off by this. Just put on our rain jackets and take out our umbrellas and go? No it’s a long long story of the Parsley’s Pursuit of the perfect rain jacket. It started in London( the perfect place to buy the perfect rain jacket ) but no we have looked and looked and tried on and decided to buy it in Spain. Not sure sunny Spain is the best place but then it’s raining so maybe they do need them and so do we! Right now but we don’t have one.
Ok moving on. We read our books in the car for 30min until the rain abated. Then we explored. Hondarriba is right across the river from France so you look out from the car park over the river mouth and harbour to France. Chris says he can see the French influence in the town with delicious French style pastries. We had coffee and a piece of toast with jam.( tostado con marmalade )
We wandered around exploring small shops and wandering down little alley, poof just like that it was lunch time. We found a place offering a menu del día for €18. It was packed but the bosslady found us a spot and the rest was heaven. Mussels for Chris and clams with beans for me. Fresh hake and duck confit followed by a flan and a yoghurt with mango dessert. All yummy see the menu below. Washed down with wine, water and coffee. PS: gossip alert. The guy next door with his family of 5, drank 4 big bottles of sidre( cider ). He drank most of it! Not judging of course, but seriously lunch time and driving.
Only bad note was that we paid the bill seeing that they added the wine and coffee. We were a little unsure to complain but then we went outside and it poured so we had to wait a few minutes. It was a sign and when we saw the barman we asked him why it was not included. He said it was and apologized. Some story that the wine I drank was not part of the deal but credit to them they refunded us.
So after this lovely lunch we off to pick up Pozzi2.( new version is ScootR)
Such a different vibe, the Spaniard was chilled smoking his cigarette flirting with me cos he thought I spoke Spanish which I did tell I couldn’t anymore. And then he showed us around. None of that Germanic efficiency, much more fun 😉
Same as last time but called a Globescout R. Basically the same but slightly older model. The shower config is better and the fridge at eye level much better, but the storage space too shallow.
So we rush off to drop off the rental car down the road and hurry back in a taxi.
And we are off … Pamplona here we come!