San Sebastian, Spain: Travel Essay
Thank god San Sebastian is a mere hour-long bus ride from Pamplona. While the San Fermin festival is centered around a martyred Saint, the city of San Sebastian is centered around a statue of Jesus Christ. And if Jesus is forgiving, let’s just say that San Fermin is something of a motherfucker. The two atmospheres could not compliment each other more.
Located in the north coast of Spain, very close to France, San Sebastian seems like a picturesque Mediterranean city (although it’s on the Atlantic). It’s become a popular destination for people to go to after San Fermin, and you absolutely should. First and foremost, San Sebastian is stunningly beautiful. Like “you’re kidding me” beautiful. It’s easy on the eyes, the weather is comfortable, the water is warm, and the architecture is, again, beautiful. As for the food, don’t even get me started. There’s a reason Anthony Bourdain said, “You’d have a hard time finding anything better than Barcelonafor food, as far as being a hub. But given a choice between Barcelona and San Sebastián to die in, I’d probably want to die in San Sebastián.” How do more people not know about this place?
If there’s one thing you will hear about San Sebastian, it’s that it is a foodie paradise. True story. The city is mostly commonly known for their pintxos (peen-chos), which is just another spin on traditional tapas. In Spain a plate of tapas is typically served, for free, each and every time you order a drink – you don’t get to pick what you want, you’re just given something. In San Sebastian, the small plates of pintxos sit on top of the bar. You order a drink, hand select a few pintxos, and pay for them all together. They’re not free, but you do have a choice and most pintxos cost only about 2 euros. There are many places serving very similar and not very exciting pintxos, so do a little research ahead of time or ask around to find a gem or two. Cafe Bar Beti-Jai Berria was far and away the best pintxos place I went, and it sufficiently blew my mind with sangria and pintxos for 15 euros. And there’s plenty of amazing more traditional restaurants as well – San Sebastian is just a foodie town with amazing chefs, which I’m told is a result of the city’s Basque heritage.