Thursday, August 5, 2010

No sack lunch for us!

As you all may have noticed, I haven't been doing much travelling this summer. Yes, I take fun bike rides and go to secret swimming spots but really all of these things are within 30 minutes of my house - lucky me! Keeping with the 'staying close' theme, Laura and I decided to get out of San Sebastian for the day and have lunch in a different city, just because we can.
We hopped on the train and decided to get off in a city called Tolosa (pronounced tuh-low-sa). Famous as the best party city in Basque Country during the Carnivales holiday, we had seen some photos in the Donostia tourist office of this town and decided it was cute enough to warrant a visit even without the festival. While we have the luxury of living on the coast, this 750 year-old city is nestled in a valley next to the River Oria. Not only is it just another charming Basque town, but it used to be the provincial capital of Guipúzcoa - the 'state or county' of Basque Country that I live in.

The first thing we saw when we got off the train was a huge church, but unexpectedly, it was covered in graffiti. Don't worry - it wasn't cussing graffiti or gang signs, but instead, you could tell it was more of a set of murals, probably done by local artists. This is the one I liked the most.

When we arrived, it seemed quite quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Normally there are outdoor markets every Saturday mornin but when we walked past the market square, there were no fruits and veggies to be found. We quickly found out it was actually a holiday. I think it was San Ignacio or something...I never really know because there are SO many saints and holidays. Regardless, everything was basically closed, so we almost had the city to ourselves.

Our first mission was to find the location of the photo we had seen
and take our own pictures. Well, it's not such a big town and there is only one river, so it wasn't super difficult and within 10 minutes we found it - and here is the shot in all its glory! Pretty impressive I thought - that a photo could make us actually want to go to a place. It's like a tourist book photographer's dream! I just love archways that run along the
river in front of colorfully painted homes and end at that a beautiful church that stands out against the green mountainous terrain behind it, and beyond that the goregeous blue sky. After that climax, we gave into our hunger and found a plaza with a café that was open and grabbed an outdoor table to soak up the sun.

Besides the café being open, not much else was, but thankfully the tourst 'office' was. Now, when we were looking for this 'office' I was keeping my eyes peeled for a building but in the end it was a wooden shack in the middle of a plaza.
Quite unexpected. Anyways, we talked with the guy working and grabbed some pamphlets to decide what we 1) wanted to do and 2) what we actually could do on a holiday. Most of the suggestions were things that you can only do on a workday, so we headed towards the Old Part to just enjoy the colorful buildings. We wandered up and down streets, through small little alleys and past huge churches but in the end just gave up because we couldn't actually go in anywhere or see anything besides the facades of the buildings.

One thing we made sure not to pass up was a little bakery where the famous Tolosa Cigarrillos y Tejas. Made by hand in this village with butter and whole almonds, these tasty desserts (kind of like the pirouettes snack in the States) are famous all over Basque Country.

What started out as a little excursion day turned into just a small lunch-date in a different town. We were happy nonetheless and mostly satisfied we had taken our coveted photo! Sometimes, although you don't have a vacation planned or anything exciting going on, it's just nice to get out of the everyday habits and go somewhere new for a change - even if it IS just a lunch on a sunny day.


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