There’s nothing like living a city with the locals. Just to give you an idea of how magical and seductive this city can be, Ana, who is from the south of Spain (Murcia), originally only went to San Sebastián for a couple of weeks to cover for a friend who worked in a guest house and wanted to take some leave. Fact is that she fell head over heels in love with the city and its people and decided to stay. It’s now been 3 and a half years and she’s not looking to leave anytime soon, so read on to explore San Sebastian like a local.
Honestly, I can relate. If it weren’t for the fact that the weather is so unreliable and kinda mirrors the English climate, San Sebastián, also known as Donosti, is a corner of paradise. The city is breathtakingly beautiful, the food is simply superb being one of Spain’s culinary paradises, ‘blessed by the stars’ as some may say given the numerous famous Michelin Star restaurants. It is big but not huge with its population of around 200,000 and it has lovely beaches where one can also surf.
I know that some of the Spanish may say that the Basque people come across as cold, however I love the people there; they have always been extremely friendly and cheerful, never rude. For anyone who is just learning Spanish, their accent is also very clear and easy to understand 🙂
Our day started around lunch time, which given our hangover was quite convenient. Ana and her boyfriend who is Basque born and bred in San Sebastián took us up onto a mountain which is scattered with sidrerías (cider breweries) and very typical local restaurants. These are not the kinda places you would just stumble upon by mistake; we drove about 30 min up a mountain, full of lush vegetation and arrived at Taberna Ermaña. I don’t think I’d ever been anywhere more rustic: they only speak Basque (Euskera – a language with no known origins), the décor is composed by dark wooden tables and benches, covered with red and white checker table cloths, there is a set menu and it smells divine. I already love it.
Thank God for Ana’s boyfriend Mikel, who took care of ordering for us, proud to give us a taste of his local cuisine. The food was INSANE. Our first dish was a gigantic bowl of bean stew with chorizo and blood sausage that could have fed 8 people. Followed by an enormous and exquisite steak (txuletón), which was so good, we ordered a second one. And to finish, local cheese with walnuts and a sweet jam.
We were so full by the end of it we could barely move! All this accompanied by home made cider, which is very different from what we have in England: it is flat and contains no sugar; it must also be served in a particular way, poured from quite high up so that the air mixes with the carbon dioxide of the cider and the organoleptic characteristics of the cider, like taste and perfume become significant and are released. Asturias is the most renown region for producing cider, I’d love to go some day. Mikel gave us a good demonstration which I tried to follow but ended up just showering the entire table.
After trying to digest our food babies, we set off to do some of the sight seeing, which included the spectacular view up on Monte Igueldo, where there is also one of the oldest theme parks in Spain, dating back to the Franco era, and a view of the entire city.
Another must see if of course La Playa de la Concha (the shell beach), right in the centre of the city: you are shopping around Zara and wandering round the little alleys when suddenly the beach is right in front of you. It’s quite breathtaking!
As you can see our day ended with a stunning sunset – the cherry on the top of a perfect day 🙂