I woke up today in Roger’s House Hostel, which is in the alternative bar scene of San Sebastian. It’s a great location for pintxos and not too bad of a stay either. Although, they felt the need to tell me I was only allowed one shower per day, which left me wondering if my ten-day old wardrobe smelled or I just looked homeless. Probably both at this point.
I got up super early to grab a ticket from the Renfe station because their website is worthless and it was cheaper than all the bus tickets I had planned that would leave me traveling through the night. Major relief. Then I headed out to take pictures of the Maria Cristina Hotel, Playa Gros, which is the local surf hang out, all the bridges along the inlet from the sea, San Vincente Cathedral, and the church of Santa Maria. By that time, things were starting to open up, so I ducked into a local café near the Bertxa market and had a tortilla de chorizo pintxo, which is like a mini baguette with a chorizo omelet folded inside, and a café con leche for breakfast.
Then I explored the underground Bertxa food markets. The building is like a large mall with a Boqueria-style food market on the underground floor, called the Lidi markets. It was decorated for Christmas and quite impressive. The stalls selling small baked goods and tea cookies are adorable this time of year.
I ambled through the Parte Vieja to the Museu San Telmo, which is actually a pretty impressive museum of Basque history and art. I loved reading up about the politics and development of the region. Then again, I should preface that by saying that I am a huge Che Guevara/revolutionary junkie. I am attracted to anyone that seems like that might have been homeless in another life, ergo surfers, skaters, rock stars, revolutionaries, frat boys…
Next, I made my way to the harbor and Playa Concha. The area is incredible. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful and varied city it is. There are mountains, harbors, rivers, bridges, avenues of shops that go on for miles, markets, and churches galore. It’s really incredible. In the middle of December, the beach was packed. There were kayakers at Concha and surfers spotting Gros as far as the eye could see. Everyone in Basque Country is seemingly always out and about, toting a child, dog, or surfboard.
I decided to take the nature trail up Monte Urgull for the view. It’s no easy trek, but it wasn’t too bad either. Pretty sure a couple toddlers and grandparents with canes passed me on the way up. It’s an absolutely stunning and effortlessly Kelly green nature trail that winds its way up to the Castle, Napoleon’s Fort, the English Cemetery, and a giant statue of Jesus with arms spread wide, like the one in Rio as the cherry on top of the sundae that is San Sebastian. The view from up there is stunning. Mountains, harbor, sea, and colored blocks of buildings as far as the eye can see. I have seen the mountaintop, as they say, and it is pretty freaking awesome.
After that trek, I naturally made my way to my last Smooy visit for the foreseeable future, seeing the famous Hotel Londres on the way. It was a bittersweet parting (literally tart yogurt and sweet avellana cream – can you say NOM?!), as they usually are. But I’m on to bigger and better things. Those things are called Yogurtland and Bigg Chill, but I am going to have to figure out how to make avellana cream. I also peaked into a perfumerie that has been around since 1902 and is quite upscale. There were five employees for about 5 square feet of space and they all stalked me around the place.
I stopped for two last pintxos on the way to collect my backpack from my hostel at a bar near the main square in the old town (where I saw a protest last night that was pretty intense). I went with a bola de queso, literally fried cheese ball, and a croquette, which are delicious and surprisingly, not made out of potatoes as one would think. By then, it was time to say my goodbyes to San Sebastian, although it is some place I wouldn’t mind moving to, let alone seeing again. I made my way to the train station, passing by the Smooy to see if the shift had changed (contemplating another cup) and seeing that it hadn’t, I tried a Yogurteria that I found on Garibai Kalea. They had an avellana sauce of some sort, but it was a sugary drizzle on a tiny Dixie cup full of sour yogurt. It was okay, but nothing close to a delicious cup of Smooy. Agur, dear Basque Country. It’s been real.