Friday, November 13, 2009

San Sebastian

After an entertaining day on Tim’s 29th birthday, we drove to San Sebastian – Spain’s gastronomic capital and a stunning seaside town that is obviously a very popular place to visit. We booked into a luxurious four-star hotel where Adriana managed to get us 40% off through her connections – sweet! It was nice to say the least and the bed was like sleeping on clouds!

When we arrived in San Sebastian, the weather was borderline monsoonal – crazy wind and rain, we didn’t know if we wanted to leave the hotel! However there was obviously too much to see and amazing food to be tried so we braved the weather, hopped into a taxi and went out to a pretty fancy restaurant where the food was incredible. Despite not living up to our previous gastronomic experience at Marcos’ restaurant in Gijon it was impressive nonetheless. The bill of about AU$400 for all of us did hurt the hip pocket a little bit, but asked ourselves – when do we really get to experience restaurants like this? That was our excuse anyway….ha! We finished dinner at about 12:30am and we were all ready for bed after a long drive that day, but the question was, how were we going to hit the sack with our bellies so full! I think we both felt a bit sick laying down that night and we woke in the morning still feeling like we’d just eaten!

Unfortunately I woke up that morning with excruciating pain in my lower back and hip – as most of you would know, the recovery after my hip operation has been extremely complicated, but I honestly thought I was past the worst of it. When I woke in this much pain, you can imagine how devastated I was….I wasn’t leaving the hotel room that day, because I couldn’t walk! So, for me this was one of my lowest points of the whole trip….Tim went out with Marcos and Adriana to check out the beautiful sights of San Sebastian while I was stuck inside four walls. I couldn’t understand why this was happening and it was that day I felt extremely homesick. I desperately wanted and still want, to experience to the full everything I can on this trip and being limited by my body is a real downer. The thing I have to keep holding onto is everything usually makes sense in hindsight. I have learned a lot about life and myself through all of this – the journey continues. At least I got to eat the entire contents of the mini bar (almost) that day! lol

So as I said, Tim went out with Marcos and Adri that day – here’s his version of events….

Started off the day on the foreshore at a placed called the Windcomb. All along the foreshore were many sculptures by a well-known artist, which were amazing. After spending a couple of hours walking along the foreshore we arrived at the Old Quarter of San Sebastian. The Old Quarter is filled with narrow laneways plenty of Pinchos bars. Again the vino and pinchos started flowing again as we proceeded from bar to bar, I was starting to feel quite sick from going to bed on a full stomach every night and really needed a break from the excessive food and alcohol lifestyle of the Spanish. On this particalur day the King of Spain was in town to open a new section of the aquarium. The atmosphere of the place seemed to be on edge as there was a lot of police activity. I grew to learn from Marcos and Adriana that the reason there were a lot of police was because there is a known terrorist group that fights for the independence of the Basque country from Spain. They are sort of an extremist group that have terrorist bombing attacks from time to time to make their point. Many of the police were wearing balaclavas to hide their identity to avoid being personally targeted by the terrorists. As we continued through the old quarter we came to a bar were I could tell Marcos and Adriana were a little edgy about entering (which I didn’t fully understand the reason at the time) but we decided to go in anyway. There were some crazy looking characters smoking weed, not really caring about the fact that it was illegal. Marcos told me the police turn a blind eye to it as long as they are not doing it in public; the police have bigger fish to fry. I saw there were Basque flags available at the bar and wanted to buy one only to be told by Marcos and Adriana that I should buy one elsewhere otherwise I would most probably be directly funding the terrorist group. So I left it…

Already feeling full, we made our way for another gastronomic session at a restaurant on a hill were I tried salmon roe (eggs) for the first time and loved it! It was a good meal but I still think Marcos’s cuisine was better. Although the chocolate dessert I had was absolutely amazing. It was filled with chocolate pieces that crackled in your mouth; a bit like the chocolate I tried a couple of days ago. The views of the city from the restaurant were beautiful to say the least.

After being more than full to the brim, I decided to return to the hotel to give Sal some company because I felt really sorry that she had missed out on such a great experience. We hung out there until about 8pm when Sal was feeling a bit better and was keen to go out for some non-minibar food. So we went out and managed to eat more pinchos! Not sure how that was possible!

Sal – Thankfully, I was feeling a bit better the next day (Thurs Nov 12) and was able to get out to see the beautiful city of San Sebastian. The sun was shining and it was about 20 degrees so I was loving it! Although I was still feeling a bit sore, it’s amazing what a bit of the sun’s rays on your skin can do for making you feel a whole lot better. San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen…..every building has been so creatively built, with the old and new perfectly blended together and it’s set right on the ocean surrounded by mountains. Tim and I walked the laneways of the old quarter, ate more pinchos, had another 3 course lunch and wandered along the boardwalk on the foreshore. It was such a relaxing day that we were able to spend on our own as Marcos and Adriana went to experience a Michelin star restaurant at 180Euros per head!!! It would have been nice to join them, but we just could not justify 300 Australian dollars each for lunch no matter how amazing the food was. Maybe for another time, when we’re richer!

Marcos and Adriana picked us up at about 7pm and we drove to our next stop on our way back to along the coast – a small village called Zarautz.


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