San Sebastian (aka Donostia) … here we come !
It’s a pilgrimage of sorts. Tony (Bourdain) sold me on Basque country when No Reservations aired an episode on this food mecca back in 2008. Critics and journalists have debated as to whether San Sebastian is truly deemed the world’s greatest city for foodies. I guess we’ll have to find out for ourselves.
But we’re just not going to San Sebastian to eat.
San Sebastian was voted Cultural Capital of Europe in 2016. It’s a city known for artistic expression. It’s filled with architectural interest. Museums such as the Tabakalera and San Telmo are worth visiting for its structural framework as well as its creative output. Several outdoor performances take place throughout the year, along with music and film festivals that attract global audiences. There’s a rich natural heritage with plenty of hiking trails and a mountaineering spirit.
With a population of only around 188,000, this small Basque city in northeastern Spain is also a resort town. It’s a small vibrant, fashionable city that centers around the Bay of La Concha, one of Europe’s most famous urban beaches. There are cliffs jutting over the bay with stunning views of the soft sands and urban landscape. From the photos it looks B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.
Culture of Coexistence
Basque Country is an autonomous region with its own parliament within Spain. This territory accounts for five percent of Spain’s population. The Basque fight hard to preserve their own language, Euskera. It’s not a secret that there have been economic, political and even personal divisions that have the Basque people uncertain about a peaceful coexistence within Spain. Basque society desires for a deeper coexistence in the public agenda. Despite this history, they apparently embrace outsiders – perhaps their experiences make way for a deeper empathy towards diversity and inclusion.
I’m fascinated with this cultural anomaly. What does their cultural heritage mean to Basque people presently and for their future? I have been to Catalan Spain twice, another autonomous region within northeastern Spain and they also fight hard to preserve their ethnic, artistic, culinary and linguistic entities. What is it about deep-rooted culture that defines a way of life? I must find out.
San Sebastian has been touted as a family friendly destination. The Basque are known to include their children in all activities and expect to have them take part in all aspects of their everyday culture. SJ gets to play in the sand, eat little bites of pulpo and ride a funicular to the top of Mount Igeldo. They even have a tourism organization, Hagoos, solely for family activities. We will be on sensory overload with the art, architecture and cultural tours we have arranged.
It’s hard to believe this trip will disappoint in anyway. We hope the sun rays are in our favor. That British Airways doesn’t oversell our seats. Or that no one gets sick. OK, so we can’t control everything when it comes to travel. That’s when you just let go … breathe and enjoy the ride.
For food enthusiasts, I will write about our Basque culinary adventure.
Have any of you been to San Sebastian? Any tips?
What do you guys look for when planning, traveling with or without kids?