This past weekend, while half of the students in my program were in Granada (I’m going this upcoming weekend!), and my roommate was in Paris, I took off on my own for the north: to Bilbao and San Sebastián. After deciding that Vueling is definitely my favourite low-cost airline (they let you have a carry-on and a purse! Anyone who has ever flown Ryanair knows what a big deal this is), I took a bus to San Sebastián and I immediately fell in love with the city! The walk from the bus station to the hostel was along a river and crossed a bridge just before it reached the ocean. The hostel I stayed in, Olga’s Place (highly recommended!) was just a block from the ocean. After I checked in, I decided to take a walk along the beach. La Playa de la Concha stretches in a curve around the edge of the city. Even though it was foggy and not particularly warm (a nice change from the heat in Sevilla, I must admit), that didn’t stop people from going to the beach. I saw so many people walking, playing with their dogs, even kayaking and surfing in the (freezing) water.
The first night in San Sebastián, I was so tired. That’s what happens when you get up super early for a flight and then walk all day as soon as you get to your destination, right? Luckily, my roommate in the hostel was another American, studying abroad in Salamanca, and we teamed up for a trip to the supermarket to make bocadillos. We knew that San Sebastián was known for its food, so we made plans for a night out the following day, but by early that evening we were both exhausted. I think I fell asleep around 11, after a few hours of reading (I finally checked out the first book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, which was pretty awesome if you like dragons in historical settings, which I do).
The next morning, I woke up early, feeling well-rested and ready to go! Which was good, because my first stop (after taking a trip back to the bus station to buy my ticket back to Bilbao the next morning) was Monte Urgull. The mountain is full of batteries and lookout points and all kinds of other interesting ruins and buildings. I spent several hours exploring the mountain before it was back to the beach. Today was much sunnier and so there were even more people out and about! It was nice to take off my shoes and walk in the sand.
I spent the rest of the day walking on or around the beach. When I got back to my hostel, I found I had a third roommate for the second night in the hostel. Another American, but instead of being a student studying abroad, he was living in Madrid and teaching English to Spanish students. The three of us decided to go out for pintxos, or tapas, together. Unfortunately, it was raining that evening, but we didn’t let that stop us.
We had all heard that the food in San Sebastián is amazing, and we weren’t disappointed. We tried everything from a pepper stuffed with cod, to an anchovy covered in blueberries (which, for some odd reason, on the English menu we were offered, were referred to as “forest fruit”), to the most delicious risotto I’ve ever eaten, to octopus tentacles on a bed of cabbage. People in the Basque country go out earlier than people in Andalucia (probably because it isn’t fun to eat dinner or go out when it’s 85 degrees outside, but in the north it doesn’t get as hot), but they stay out just as late.
The next morning I took a bus back to Bilbao. I went to the Guggenheim Bilbao, which is cool in pictures but amazing in person, some of the most awesome modern architecture I’ve ever seen! The works inside were equally interesting, with some names I recognized like Jenny Holtzer, and plenty of Spanish modern/contemporary artists. Then I walked around the city for a little while before returning to Sevilla at night. It was a great trip. I liked Bilbao, but San Sebastián is definitely one of my new favourite cities!
Check out some more pictures below and/or on tumblr. Also, one of the classes I’m in here in Sevilla, Digital Storytelling, is starting a blog. We’re just in the beginning stages so far, but you can check it out here if you’d like: Revistasacai.