It’s time for another travel blog post – my favourite kind of throwback. It was one of my best friends Hayley’s 30th birthday and she kindly invited us to join her on a trip to San Sebastian in Spain. It is a coastal town in the Basque region, renowned for their cuisine and world celebrated restaurants. She has been several times and raves about it so I was excited. I worked a 12 hour shift and didn’t have time to sleep so when we finally arrived at our accommodation, I had a long disco nap.
We stayed in a gorgeous apartment that we found on AirBnb. There were 7 of us so we needed somewhere big enough and close to the centre. It was absolutely perfect for the occasion, individually decorated bedrooms with bright colours and ornaments, 2 bathrooms, a lounge and a kitchen equipped with Prosecco and cakes. Our bedroom had wide windows that let in the warm sunlight and the vanity desk of my dreams with a huge floor lamp. I’ve tried to find the flat on the website but it has either been taken down or it has been booked up.
We ventured out to the restaurants on our first evening, excited to be immersed in the Basque culture. The majority of food served in the city is in the form of pintxos or as you may know it – tapas. This means that you order bite sized portions from a counter, to be eaten whilst standing up. There were no chairs anywhere. Locals flit between restaurants grazing on whatever is on offer, a walking and tasting experience. All restaurants were very relaxed with the bill as well, happy for you to wander around outside and pay at the end without leaving a card behind the bar. It was truly alien compared to standard British hospitality.
I’ll be honest and say that there was not a lot of vegetarian/vegan cuisine around. I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs or most cheeses so it can be hard finding something I fancy eating. We had an incident where I ordered a “vegetable soup” which actually came with pork. I was luckily introduced to Padron peppers, which changed my experience for the better. They were griddled, served on a wooden board and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt. I survived on these and tasty patatas bravas – fried potatoes with spiced tomato sauce and fragrant aioli – for most of the trip.
When it was warmer, we visited Europe’s best beach, according to TripAdvisor. La Concha is the main beach in Donostia and crescent shaped so you can see right across to the other side. It is absolutely beautiful, the yellow sand seems to stretch out forever and it wasn’t over crowded like most beaches I have come across. I ran into the sea like a mad woman because I can’t keep away from the water on holiday. I love the feeling of the waves crashing against me, despite how cold it actually was. Let’s just say, there was a reason why most people were just sitting on the sand, fully dressed.
Every morning we had coffees in the flat but ventured to a bakery afterwards for pastries and espresso because you are allowed to do that as an adult. I am a chocolate eclair or pecan plait kind of girl, accompanied by the hot, bitter sting of espresso is just bliss. If I had a better metabolism, I’d eat cakes for breakfast every single day.
Strolling through the streets of San Sebastian is lovely because there is always a hustle and bustle and I love being able to sit outside and people watch. For lunch, we had pintos – octopus burgers, calimari and seafood risotto for the others, I had more potatoes and bread. The one item on the menu that we all had a mutual love for was Sangria. Not the kind where they mix Fanta Fruit Twist into it but the sort of berry red, potent stuff that gets you feeling merry in the middle of the day. It didn’t touch the sides.
We had to pay a visit to Bar Nestor so the guys could try their world famous Steak. It’s the kind of restaurant that they have in Europe, where you pick your joint of meat before it is cooked. As a vegetarian, watching it sizzle on the hot plate was not really a vibe. My boyfriend absolutely loved it. Although, my life was changed when I was presented with a plate of plump tomatoes, drizzled in olive oil and salt. Since this moment, I always eat them like this.
One of my favourite things to do on holiday, wherever I am, is to explore all the quirky boutiques, searching for the most bizarre objects. I bought all my colleagues a braided bracelet as it is one of our cute traditions. Other than those, I never buy tourist tat but love to look at it. However, Sam decided that he couldn’t live without this unsightly hat with artificial hair so it came home with us.
The majority of our evenings were spent mixing Aperol Spritzes in our apartment and playing incessant games of Shithead, my new favourite card game. Then we’d all migrate to the local bars and sample the gin menus. I can’t recall every place we visited as our evenings were essentially a posh piss-up but my favourite bar was Minuto y Medio. This was a rock bar where the bartender let us use him like a jukebox. He even played Triple H’s Entrance song for the boys so they could reenact it, a turning point in the evening.
Overall, San Sebastian was a great location for our trip. It was warm, the customer service was great and there were lots of restaurants and bars to enjoy. The best part of the trip was spending time with the friends I was with. If I went back, I’d definitely check out the aquarium, beach club and Miramar Palace.