San Sebastian: food & drink

As with most places in Spain, we found San Sebastian to be absolutely delicious. One thing I had to get used to was that ordering wine at most of the pintxo bars was done at the mercy of the bartender, who rarely spoke English. With no posted menu available, I generally requested a ‘tinto’ and drank what they gave me. At an average of $2 a glass, this worked fine most of the time but I definitely preferred the places with a wine list.  Also, the pintxos skewed heavily fishy so Eric wound up eating quite a lot of jamon and cheese on toast.

Here are a few of our favorite snacks from the trip…

gilda pintxo with cava and white wine  pirate pastries!
the most famous pintxo in town, the Gilda (guindilla peppers, a Cantabrian anchovy fillet, and manzanilla olives on a toothpick); pirate donuts from a local bakery

pintxo @ Zazpi (our favorite spot in town) 
Zazpieverything we had here was amazing, but the best was the roasted beef cheek – plus they had a great rose on the menu

red wine in Old Town  a crowd gathers for snacks
Paco Bueno – crowded but good wine and blue cheese / sardine toasts

tasty mussels w/ lots of company
La Mejillonera – mussels & Padrón peppers; also very crowded!

pintxos @ Bar Sport
Bar Sport – my second favorite place for quality of pintxos


La Viña – much touted cheesecake was tasty but I am pretty sure they gave us two portions when I only ordered one

little fish on bread  how am I going to eat this?
Bar Zeruko – this place was hit and miss – the tabletop items were good but my hot tuna dish was not

Unfortunately, one of our top choices, Bar Nestor, was closed for the exact three days we were in town. Boo. We also visited La Cuchara de San Telmo but were unimpressed with the beef cheek after falling in love with Zazpi’s version.

San Sebastian: sights and beaches

Our first night in San Sebastian we spent avoiding drunk teenagers in the Old Town by walking across the bridge to the Gros district. Tasty food was found, along with peace and quiet and this view of the gorgeous sunset…

sunset in San Sebastian

sunset in San Sebastian

The next morning we spent walking along La Concha Beach to Peine del Viento, a lookout point with sculptures.

La Concha Beach

Bay of La Concha

Peine Del Viento

overlooking the Bay of Biscay

La Concha Beach

Between clothes shopping, sitting on the beach, and stuffing ourselves with small, tasty plates of food we found San Sebastian to be a delightful place to spend a few days.

Artzain Onaren katedrala  Iglesia de Santa María
Artzain Onaren Katedrala; Iglesia de Santa María

Bay of Biscay sunset
watching the sun set over the Bay of Biscay from Pasealeku Berria

Public Library
Public Library building

sculpture
sculpture near Playa la Zurriola

San Sebastian: where we stayed

For the San Sebastian part of our trip we wanted to be near the old town (for all the wonderful pintxo bars), but not necessarily in the old town (due to noise). We eventually found El Concha Centro, a one-bedroom apartment with a great location – a five minute walk to the beach, five minute walk into Old Town, and surrounded by shopping!

The owner met us promptly out front and showed us how to work all of the appliances. She even sat down with us and recommended several museums, sites, and best spots for good eats.

our apartment for three days - cozy and great location

The living area had plenty of room for the two of us, with a comfy couch and dining table. The adjacent kitchen was great, with a huge fridge, coffee machine and washer/dryer combo (big bonus on long trips!)

spain-63   spain-64

The bedroom was comfortable and the huge bathroom had everything we needed.

The only downside was the lack of air conditioning, which normally isn’t a problem except that during the two days we were in town there was a heat wave and temps rose into the mid-80sF. Thankfully there was a box fan, so we moved it from bedroom to living room as needed, but this was just a bit of bad luck as we found the place charming and perfect for our stay.

15 year anniversary trip overview!

It’s safe to say we love Spain with trips to Barcelona (1, 2), Madrid, and Granada & Malaga over the past eight years. When a good fare to Spain popped up again we decided to try Northern Spain for our 15th anniversary, eventually focusing on the Basque cities of Bilbao and San Sebastián.

bus_interiorTo get between cities we found buses to be the easiest and most direct option. For both legs we choose Alsa due to price and timing. For one leg we got Alsa Premium which was extra nice, with 2 seats on one side of the row and 1 seat on the other side, plus USB power and snacks.

The Bilbao bus station was easy to connect to from the metro, but many buses weren’t listed on boards, so it was a bit confusing. The San Sebastian station was quite easy and well-located too.

In both cities we shopped, ate pintxos, drank wine, visited museums, walked on the beach, and viewed sunsets. It was a very happy 15th anniversary for us!

Instagram photos | Bilbao flickr photos | San Sebastian flickr photos