There are many stories to be told from each travel experience. Some remain private and a few fade away in memory. The notable ones make their way into dinner conversation or you suddenly find yourself laughing thinking about the server who kept only pouring water for you and not the whole table or the lost in translation with the lady at the ticket counter. It’s these funny little reminders that make travel special.
Then there are pictures. Snaps, hundreds of them, captured in time that freeze frame a moment, a taste, a laugh, or a sigh. All of us utilizing ubiquitous digital equipment that somehow stores images in a mysterious and expensive cloud. Some of you may recognize these photos from my Instagram feed, but most of them have not been posted before. Now that we’re back and into the swing of daily life, I find it hard to document everything that went down in our 10-day May Basque adventure. For now, here’s a glimpse of our time in San Sebastian. For your viewing pleasure.
A must-eat pinxto bar in Old Town. Mushroom heaven.
The Sert canvases by Spanish artist Jose Maria Sert are eleven varnish-on-metal paintings. Commissioned in 1929, these vast sepia-toned murals tell the story of their industrious accomplishments from ship building, fishing to blacksmithing and unveil the resilience of Basque people from their freedoms and rights to legends. Sert’s haunting but elegant beauty portrays scenes of industriousness and conscientiousness that still exists among Basque people today.
San Sebastian is a destination for foodies. Pinxtos are the name of the game. My favorite is the original ‘gilda.’ Skewered guindilla peppers, Cantabrian anchovy fillet and manzanilla olives. Take it all in one bite. You’ll be satisfied.
Sunset through stained glass panels inside Buen Pastor Cathedral.
We had the opportunity with Basque Cool Tours to visit a sheep farm outside the city. I’ve never witnessed a sheepdog in action corralling 150 sheep in the field. I didn’t expect to get so up close and personal. We returned to the farm where we learned about the indigenous idiazabal cheese making process and to taste the freshest cheese in its most pure state. It was an enriching part of the trip.
The San Telmo is home to some of the most critical Basque identity artifacts. The building itself is notable for its modern and traditional blend of history mixed with the contemporary.
Our apartment with a lovely but noisy view. Bells chimed every hour but after a while it becomes a rhythmical background noise that reminds you another hour of vacation awaits. It blends into the charm of the place.
There’s no escaping San Sebastian’s beauty. It’s not the easiest destination to reach but once you arrive, this European beach city surrounds you with Donostia vibes of sun and supreme relaxation. It’s visually stunning everywhere you look and you can’t help but start planning your return or retirement home.
Second favorite pinxtos of the trip – grilled octopus.
This water fountain greeted us daily as we exited our apartment onto the plaza.
We weren’t prepared for 90F! No swimsuits on hand but it didn’t stop us from cooling off in the warm water.
Perfect blend of sun, city, beach, sky.
Narrow balcony of our rental overlooking Buen Pastor cathedral. Central location although bells ringing at the top of every hour!
Old town. Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus.
Begona Munoz of Tabakalera gave us a private tour and showed us one of the best views of the city from the veranda.
Tabakalera is a unique international center for contemporary culture. They emphasize they are not a museum but a place for citizens and visitors to engage in visual, sensory, technical art projects for educational purposes or personal learning. I was amazed at the importance Basque place on the need to enhance the individual by collective culture and engagement.
Views from the Tabakalera veranda. There’s no way around it. This city is beautiful.
One of the museum’s juxtapositions indicative of Basque culture is this Michelin Tire exhibit housed on the upper floors of the San Telmo. Contemporary in nature, raw and graphical. Such a contrast to the Sert Canvases by the abbey below.
Jetlag day one. Taking in the views of La Concha beach.
One of our favorite lunch spots al fresco. We went twice.
Meeting baby sheep!
Idiazabal cheesemaking process. All suited up.
This emblem was everywhere in San Sebastian. Of course, the initials ‘SS’ take on special meaning for a little someone we know.
San Sebastian is more than child-friendly but rather child-centric. There are playgrounds everywhere you look. No shortage of play time for SJ.
We spent our last few days of the trip in Bilbao. I will post another gallery of our time there as well as a write-up of our ultimate dining experience at Arzak.
Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like me to write about! I’m happy to indulge your questions. Buen viaje!