Monday, May 31, 2010

Beach Season

As it is the last day in May, tomorrow marks an important day in Donostia: opening of the beaches. With three beaches in San Sebastián, it is a day to look forward to.

Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, La Concha always steals the show for best beach in the city. Shaped like a Conch shell, it's namesake, this beach always fills up quickly with tourists and locals alike. When I first arrived it was the first beach I went to, the one I took the most photos of, and most important - the one I tanned topless at first. Topless sunbathing here is quite normal and now I don't bat an eye, but by golly the first time I did it I felt quite awkward.

Starting tomorrow one can take advantage of the parasols and sun beds that take over a good majority of the beach. Available every morning for rent, only a few special people get a permanent laying out spot all summer. These coveted spots are won with either a very high price-tag or a raffle. Each year, x amount of spots are raffled off and as I have been reading in the newspapers lately, of the 282 people that entered the raffle, there are only 52 spots open. People lined up for what seemed like miles on the day of the raffle to put their name in to win one of these small parcels of sand with a cute blue and white striped umbrella for the entire summer.

I didn't even bother entering because while the Concha is the most gorgeous beach in the city, I am more in love with the Zurriola Playa. Set in my old neighborhood of Gros, this beach is popular with a younger crowd and of course the surfers. With big waves and a huge sand area, San Sebastián's youngest beach is my favorite and where I will probably spend most of my sunbathing days (don't worry Grammy, I'll wear sunscreen). On a side note of the Zurriola - I am trying to convince myself that I should take a surf class this summer for a week or so. You sign up and they give you the surfboard and all you need, but for some odd reason, even after living in a surf-crazy city, I still have no desire to learn how to surf. Maybe with hot weather and no work in the summer I will change my mind and sign up.

The last beach in San Sebastián is named Ondaretta and is mainly for families and grown-ups. It seems as if each beach in Donosti has it's own personality and for me, this one is the one I relate with the least. Still, it is a lovely beach and it's positive point is that it is located closest (when the tide is out) to the small island of Santa Clara that sits in the center of the Bahía de la Concha (Bay of the the Concha Beach). As you can see in this photo, the island is but a short swim away from the beach and makes for a fun afternoon activity when the waves are calm and and you have the whole day to kill.

While it is predicted to rain tomorrow, the lifeguards will start their watch in the morning regardless donning red shorts or swimsuits. With wooden look-out towers (think Baywatch) San Sebastián's beaches will soon morph into tourist destinations and my favorite place to relax. In a city that loves the summer, it is just one of the indicators that summer is almost here!


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