San Sebastián, The North Shore of Spain

The first two days of my solo travel I spent in San Sebastián, in the Basque region of Northern Spain. The city is a breathtaking sight to see; with obvious French influence in much of the architecture, chateau-like buildings surrounding a crescent shaped waterfront. In the distance, colorful houses with the distinct red roofs line the mountains, like colorful jewels sticking out from the lush green background. The sand was soft and a pale yellow, the sea sparkled aquamarine. The Basque region of Spain is very small and historic; the Basque language is the only language spoken in the Iberian peninsula that is not derived from Latin; it is an ancient language and has been preserved for centuries. The culture is Spanish but with its own unique twist; utilizing the siesta and other Spanish traditions with French influences as well.

When planning my trip, I opted for lodging through Airbnb, a travel company that allows property owners to rent out their spare space to travelers, whether it be an extra bed, extra room or a whole house. It is an amazing concept, giving travelers a diverse range of options when selecting their lodging needs and giving owners of extra space an additional resource to find temporary renters. Needing to be financially savvy, I opted for a cheap bed in a shared space owned by a guy named Fernando, in his apartment right in the heart of San Sebastián. At first I was a little sketched out, but after arriving at his apartment, all my anxieties quickly subsided.

La Concha
La Concha is the main beach in San Sebastián and it is obvious why it is a big attraction. It is a well run public beach, with a whole huge locker room with showers, snack bars, towel and chair rentals, essentially anything anyone could possibly need for a successful day at the beach. For €1.50 I rented a locker to put my valuables in and the key is a bracelet/wristband to prevent loss. It was perfect to have piece of mind so I could go swimming without fearing theft from leaving my valuables on my towel unattended.
The beach is extremely picturesque and well located, with refreshing but warm water to swim in. This however, obviously results in the beach being extremely crowded, it was absolutely crawling with people! Everyone was very respectful of space, however, and no one kicked sand on me at any point.

Monte Urgüll

The hilly surroundings of the beach and the city of San Sebastián makes for a great day of easy hiking and reveals a gorgeous, panoramic view of the city and the beach. It takes about 2 hours at a moderate pace to get to the top, view the free museum and then get back down to the center of town again. I found the hike to be very peaceful and beautiful, not teeming with tourists.

Gastronomy

The San Sebastián/Donostia region of Spain is world-renowned for its food and it has a large concentration of Michelin star restaurants in the city. Being a poor college student, I couldn’t exactly afford to spend $200 on a dining experience, but I did manage to go out for pinchos and dinner at cheaper but still very good restaurants. Pinchos are like tapas and they range in price, from €1 to €10. I enjoyed a mushroom risotto, patatas bravas, wine and a creme brulée that was unreal. Everything was so delicious I forgot to take pictures of my food, but I can recommend the restaurants bidebide and restaurant atari and both were phenomenal and reasonably priced.

Overall, San Sebastián is a very relaxed city, it isn’t teeming with tourist attractions aside from the beach and Monte, most people come here to kick back, get a tan and enjoy great food and beautiful scenery. This was the perfect weekend getaway after finals and finishing up a study abroad program.

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