Wonderful Donostia!

What a surprise! I don’t know why, but I had this idea in my head that Donostia (in Basque, San Sebastian in ‘Spanish’ which is actually Castilian) was a horrible, industrial city and not worth a visit. Goodness knows where that idea came from as it is completely wrong – it is a lovely city and well worth a visit.

Our aire was a 20 minute walk from one end of the bay, with the old part of the city another 20 minutes away at the end of the bay, following a wide promenade all the way. The whole bay is lined with an interesting mix of old-and-elegant and new-and-less-elegant townhouses and apartment blocks. At one point, the promenade runs through a tunnel under the gardens of a fancy hotel – a handy place for soggy people to shelter when a sudden rainstorm hits.

We visited the naval museum in the old port. It turns out that it is less ‘naval’ and more ‘anything to do with Basques and the sea’ – the current exhibition relates to their whaling industry. Not quite what we were looking for, but interesting nonetheless. I didn’t know, for instance, that Basques controlled the whaling industry in Labrador in the 16th century – and now I do.

Aussie Dad & Jan were keen to have tapas while in Spain and apparently Donostia is known for having the best there is – perfect. You don’t order tapas from a menu in Spain – it is served buffet-style along the top of the bar and you have no idea what anything is. A bit risky if you are veggie, particularly in a country which doesn’t really recognise the concept of not eating meat. A quote from our guide book – “In restaurants, you’re faced with the problem that pieces of meat – especially ham, which the Spanish don’t regard as real meat – and tuna are often added to vegetable dishes and salads to ‘spice them up”. Lovely as the food looked, D & I decided to play it safe and eat at a pretty average cafe down the road which had both veggie options and an English menu. We joined Aussie Dad & Jan back at the bar for wine and dessert though, including something that was shown on the menu as helado queso or cheese ice-cream. It was exactly that – an ice-cream that tasted decidedly cheesy – D & Aussie Dad loved it but I think I’ll add it to the list of tastes I haven’t acquired yet and stick to the wonderful chocolate brownie with toffee ice-cream instead.

We all agreed that we could spend longer exploring Donostia, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be…


Categories: Spain | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Wonderful Donostia!

  1. lvmx

    Yes ,i think I’d go for brownii & toffee icecream ……. however plum/cumquat gelati from Bermagui is my favourite.

  2. StuckinWandsworth

    Meet any separatists? I was there (a long time ago) and it was raining then. So much so that our tent flooded and the campsite owner at Camping Igueldo offered me and my schoolmates space in his garage (cosy!). He also insisted (without much resistance) that we join him on a bar crawl along the promenade with some of his mates. In every bar they bought us whiskies and started singing Basque Nationalist songs and in every bar the bartender promptly locked us (and all the other patrons) in until we were ready to move on. Between bars members of our entourage would point out people on the street and whisper ‘secret police!’ A memorable evening, and a memorable morning, waking up on a concrete floor with a hangover but arguably better than in a Spanish gaol. I’m not sure if you’re still there but, if you are, try popping into another bar or two and asking them if they know any good songs.

  3. While we were eating tapas there was a series of small explosions that brought people to their windows and a caused minor stir. I heard a local asking a bartender what was going on: neither knew so I said in my best Spanish accent “Revolution?” The bartender rolled his eyes and said (I think) “Oh no, not again!” There was general laughter then everyone got back to eating, drinking and conversation.

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