San Sebastian is the greatest place on earth! Please deduct about 20 percent for embelishment. but this place is amazing. We took an overnight train from Paris and met up with two really cool cats from Canada (yes...it is possible, just joke, there great!) So we arrived bleary eyed and delirious...Nick, Joss, Mike, Bryan and myself and stumbled off the train after a mediocre nights sleep with a strange french man sawing logs in the bunk next to me. Its a very strange feeling to sleep sideways, moving at 180 some odd miles/hour and then put your feet on solid ground and try to walk. Anyhow, due mostly to our laziness, and my mediocre spanish skills we took a "residencial" with a man who accosted us at the train station. (never do this when traveling, despite the number of "very nice"s and "very cheap, my freind"s that you recieve...there is a better deal out there!) anyhoo, he took us to his place which wasnt that bad, all told...just a little far from the beach and similar in smell to sweaty track clothes, but you cant win them all.
Seeing as our train arrived at 6AM we were somewhat delirious, but decided nonetheless to scope out the surroundings that we had gotten ourselves into. We bought up some bagguetes and cheap meats to munch and headed for the beach! Oh what a glorious beach it is, amigos and amigas...if you ever have the chance in your respective lifetimes...
San Sebastian is basically smack dab in the middle of the Basque country and along with that comes with staunch basque prowess that ive seen in few other places. The city was spotless in terms of street cleaning and appearance, and clean as well in the area of drugs and other debauchery...a yang to the ying of Amsterdamage and Paris! This is the sort of place you feel truly blessed to have visited and people seem to never lose that luster for thier home town! We found most everyone to be extremely friendly and helpful, with plenty of english speakers when my spanish ran out and i reverted to the age old Texas Spanglish!
This first little jaunt was our shooting off point, so naturally we went to the 1st beach we found. its a harbor directly in front of the "old town" of San Sab. This is called Bahia de La Concha and its dwarfed on both sides of the entry way with massive, tree caked, green hills. upon the top of the larger of the two (Mt. Urgull)is a church/fortress from the 16th century and has a massive tribute statue to Jesus on top of it (seriously towering somewhere in the arena of 50 to 60 ft. or so). the statue is large enough to take the breath away from the distance of miles, so up close its all the more intense...
So back to the lecture at hand. we spent this first day swimming out the docks that were about a quarter mile out in the harbor or so. (the water was as placid as a swimming pool and shallow enough to swim to the flat, sandy bottom even that far out). Nick and i spent a large portion of the day in search of a back up frisbee up and down and throughout the maze of shops, churches and TAPAS BARS that make up the streets of old town san seb. At this point in our trip, you wont find any more representative picture of a place than those ive uploaded on the site for San Seb. So hopefully theyre supplementing your mental picture pretty well.
After changing homes the next day, our routine stayed pretty much typical for the rest of the days we were ´stuck´in the black hole that is San Sebastian. This is worthy of mention, however because im convinced that there is no one on Gods green earth that does life quite as right as the Spanish! Its a "chicken-and-egg" type deal, so let me start my description with the morning and follow through chronologically so as not to completely confuse my American counterparts (the majority with whom this schedule would simply not jibe...). These folks wake up around, oh, 11 AM for a nice light desayuno, work for maybe 3 hours until its time for Siesta. Thats right freinds, thats not just a funny gringo word for a nap. These people actually drop what theyre doing, close up shop and just kick it for about 3-4 hours. (are you with me on the profundity of this detail!) Contrary to popular beliefs, however, Siesta is not simply a big kids nap time...most folks can be found in the innumerable tapas bars, enjoying snacks (or tapas as we locals like to call them...see the "featured food" section at the end of this entry), have cold drinks or coffee and enjoy long relaxed conversations. The homeliness of this is simply amazing to say the least, and breaks up the day quite nicely! Anyhow, this is followed by a couple more hours throughout the day and then the partying begins and the streets are flooded with backpackers, locals, and the like partying and snacking lightly througout the night! You heard it here first, the Spanish have it DIALED IN as far as the night life goes...you couldnt walk one square block without running into about 60 to 100 bars (literally)! its simply amazing, and i believe i am going to fervently market Siesta time in the good ol U.S. of A. (Whos with me?). Not to mention that the sun doesn't set here until well past 9 PM which is wicked for beach going but throws off your clock.
Joss and myself managed to dedicate one of our mornings to summiting the previously mentioned Mt. Urgull, to get simultaneously get a work out and take in the massive sweeping vistas that the top offers. We were well rewarded for our efforts (huffin and puffin...well at least J was) when we got to the top. the fortress is still in tact and on the top of it, just below the massive statue is the church del sangrado corazon...the church of the sacred heart. It was amazing to stand under the statue and look 360 degrees at the craziest most beautiful hill country ive ever seen (except of course for THE Texas Hill country)! On the way down we stopped and kicked it in an old, old graveyard with a dedication to the English unknown soldier who must've helped with the Spanish independence movement, and strolled through the beautifully manicured lawns. We felt kinda bad being sweaty and smelly and all because people were actually attending church up there and were making their long ascent as we were coming down.
In the end we split with Mike and Bryan and headed for the semi finals in Portugal, Nick also left at this point in search of old freinds and 'the perfect cut of ham...' we are yet to here back from him. So Joss and i are setting off alone for the first time and loving whats ahead.
The aforementioned Tapas deserve special note, but you may not appreciate them if youre not the adventurous sort. Bar pinxtos are the way to go and during lunch time and well into the night, the bar tops are literally covered with plates of finger foods (see tapas, tapas and more tapas). These range all the way from omelletes to some of the extremely weird combos that we sucked down...(i.e. bread with some strange patte, prosciutto ham, and a sardine to top it off) i'm not making this up, it fo real! Tapas are paid for on an honor system, which makes them even tastier! and they only cost like 1 buck a piece.
As for Euro Flair, this place was rocking it to a T, my freinds. You also heard this first here... THE MULLET IS ALIVE AND WELL IN SPAIN! Believe it, although the little devils were hard to catch on tape, believe me the mullet is thriving on the sun baked streets and dark alley corners of San Seb. Of particular note is the Fullet, or female mullet...this seems to be something of a right of passage, whereas you would be poked fun at if you had one in the states, only the losers go without in this sweet land! Also of particular note is the Rat Tail. The last one i remember seeing was on Jeremy Burman in the 1st grade, but in Spain it was not at all uncommon to see 1, 2, yes even 3 rat tails on the same dome!! Naturally i am insanely jealous but cannot pull myself to go under the knife!
OUR EURO OF THE WEEK is displayed behind Nick (brave soul that he is) and he exudes all the qualities that it takes to be euro winner material! The hair is somewhere in between a mullet and a rat tail, delicately manicured and primped for the occasion (whatever that may be)...the white watch and pastel type CAPRI pants are bringin in the ladies, and the rest is for your eyes..
WE HAD SO MANY RUNNERS UP that we are dedicating a whole section when we get a chance to the infamous mullet fiesta 2004! Hold your breath, its only a day away!