san sebastian

I’ve been away this week for a mini-tour in Spain, participating in Dferia 2016 Theatre Festival. I took my phone with me and thought of giving you a sneak peak of the city.

** this is not your usual travel vlog with lots of fancy food shots, OOTDs and exciting events. it’s just my walks around town, whilst preserving the privacy of my fellow travel companions. sorry, not sorry… **

I only got a couple of mornings off, so I couldn’t dive in to the cultural life as I usually do — shows, music, museums, that’s my thing when I’m away —, and that was a bummer because San Sebastian is the European Capital of Culture this year. but I didn’t let the rain and cold get stop me from having some great walks through the old city and that amazing boardwalk.

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with San Sebastian. It’s well known as a beach resort for those who can afford it — if you know what I mean —, and that’s usually not my cup of tea. you know… night clubs and hangovers on the beach… I know I’m an actress and all, but I don’t fit the stereotype, what can I do?
yet, being there off-season was the best experience I could have had to really get a taste of how the locals live their city and… it was amazing.

Donostia-San Sebastian is part of the Basque Country, located in the north-east end of Spain, just a few kilometres from the border with France. it’s a little sea-side city surrounded by beautiful mountains — we could see the peaks covered in snow from afar, and it’s cut on the east by a small river. it is mostly flat, with two beautiful bay-like beaches, but has some cliffs that hang over the water with impressive manor-like houses facing the ocean — the Spanish royal family was the first one to decide this would be the perfect beach retreat, hence the big manors and amazing buildings…

its architecture, mostly a mix of gothic, medieval and belle-époque whilst keeping some typical Spanish plazas and façades, is just breathtaking, reminding me of a cross between Barcelona, Amsterdam and a touch of Paris.

it’s incredibly clean, organised, and it. has. no. traffic. that was absolutely impressive. everybody walks or rides a bike wherever, and there are plenty of buses if you need something extra. but you can walk end-to-end within about an hour.

this may be a city for the wealthy and very tourism-oriented, yet the people are pleasantly warm, fuss-free and informal — never in a fake or subservient way as you would expect, considering other European cities that thrive on tourism (yo, Lisbon). they laugh, compliment, hope you enjoy and help you out with a proud and sincere smile.

this is not the average summer resort, empty and sad in the winter: it is built for and enjoyed by the locals first: people go out at night and get together as a community once they are off-duty. it has great restaurants in every corner (did you know they have the second highest concentration of Michelin Stars per capita? whoa, Nelly! — YET, you don’t need to sell a kidney to eat well), in a cool mix of traditional tapas, pintxos and local recipes with innovative — yet never presumptuous — ways of recreating them. as you would expect from a place with beautiful surrounding pastures, the meat and dairy-derived products are just out of this world delicious. not the best of destinations for vegans, though.

keeping the Spanish tradition, shopping is out on the streets, not in malls. the little innovative indie and artistic shops live happily alongside the traditional crafts — I fell in love with the beautiful  hat shops —, fresh groceries and fruits, as are the best known brands. you will NOT find dodgy postcards and kitchen magnet shops in every corner. they’re there, just not annoyingly-everywhere.

I really really loved this little town, and I hope to come back. probably off-season, so that I can still feel at home.

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