By the time I had to leave San Sebastian I was in love. Then I got on a train and laid my eyes on the interior parts of Basque Country and felt even more love for it all. The lanscape, with its rolling green hills and autumn coloured trees, dense wooded areas and old country houses reminded me of Oregon and England simultaneously. Like a combination of these UK and US based places rolled into one and flung across to Spain’s north east coast.
San Sebastian sits on the Atlantic Ocean, only about 100km’s from the French border and 600km’s from Barcelona on the Mediterranean. After having spent a month in Barcelona, other traveller’s San Sebastian stories seemed reason enough to choose it as my next destination. And I haven’t made such a good travel-related decision in a long time. San Sebastian blew me away.
Literally and metaphorically. I wasn’t welcomed with the best weather, to say the least. There were moments of borderline gale force winds, which on one particular night had me cowering under the covers after attempting to go out. At one stage, on a walk up the town’s iconic Jesus-statued-hill, I failed to exit the labyrinth of roads and pathways successfully while having the wind and rain let me know who was boss.
The wintery weather wasn’t a dampener for me. The clouds, rain and stormy seas almost add a certain charm to the place. Perhaps my love for the English countryside and the USA’s north-west coast is what’s got me feeling so passionate about San Sebastian. Those of you who have seen England’s rolling green hills will have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. For those who have watched the Twilight saga…… its filmed in Oregon.
The reason why San Sebastian is doable and lovable in spite of the weather is mainly because of its gastronomic situation. Certainly the culinary leader within the country, this unassuming town recently surpassed places like Paris and New York in becoming the ‘world’s greatest Gastronomic destination’.
It boasts more Michelin Stars per capita than anywhere else in the world and attracts all kinds of people, from the average traveller, to the food-loving-traveller, to the travelling chefs of the world who want an insight into San Sebastian’s food scene. I met one on my first night- an Indian chef of a European Restaurant in Mumbai. His culinary-eurotrip had him shadowing in all kinds of top notch restaurants across the continent. Follow him here, you wont be disappointed!
If you happen to be as much of a surfer as you are a food-lover (and you also don’t mind the odd bit of rainfall), then San Sebastian is the place for you. I counted at least 20 surfers out in the water, even with the weather as it was. Perhaps its the laidback ‘surfer atmosphere’ that is attractive about this place. Who can resist chilled vibes with good food?
Getting to San Sebastian from Madrid, Barcelona or pretty much anywhere in Spain is fairly easy. There are buses and trains that run there frequently. The bus option being the cheaper one. The cheapest option however is the online carpooling site blablacar.com. People already travelling to your destination will post an ad with details like time, dates and price. Just be sure to confirm how much luggage you’re travelling with in case they can’t accommodate it. Drivers can be ‘vouched for’ or ‘verified’ by others who have travelled with them before. I Paid 100 euros (cringe) for a return train ticket to San Sebastian from Barcelona. Carpooling would have cost me half of that.