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…