Monday, August 8, 2011

Almost a #1 Tourist

Last week an article came out in the local newspaper stating the top most photographed places in Gipuzkoa (my county) for tourists.  Seeing as I am a perpetual tourist, I thought I'd see how my non-vacation-minded photos measured up.  Turns out for being a resident as opposed to a tourist, I still have 8 of the top 10 photo spots taken already!  Here is a LINK to the newspaper article if you want to try and decipher it yourselves.  If not, keep on reading and enjoy this photo tour of my county, through apparently my touristy eyes!

1) The most photographed spot in all of Gipuzkoa is the Concha Bay.  With the conch shell shape of the golden sand beach and the island dropped in the middle of the bay, the turquoise blue water with the city in the background followed by the gorgeous Basque mountain landscape even further back is always a favorite shot.  I wouldn't be a Donostiarra (a Donostia resident) if I didn't have this shot!  While I have many a photo of this spot, my personal fave is this one, that I took while my friend Cassie was visiting and the weather gods blessed us with a perfect day!  If you have ever received a post card from me, it is completely possible that this was the image you got of my gorgeous little city.  It's honestly, corny enough to say, but breath-taking.  Beach, mountains and an enchanting city all in one shot - can't get much better, which I guess is why it's the #1 must have photo.

2)  A close second to the above photo session is the plethora of gastronomic delights.  From pintxos to the Basque ciders and wines, the mosts common photo is taken of a bar full of pintxo treats.  As you may already know, each bar here normally has thier ball packed to the brim of plates of mouth-watering pintxos.  The system is easy - you ask for a plate, or just pick one up and eat it with your hands, then tell the barman how many you took at the end and voila, happy belly.  Like an exhibition of pintxos, the bars normally have the bar full, and then some more higher plates 'displaying' more pintxos too.  More dangerous than grocery shopping while hungry, almost every pintxo is not only delicious, but also treated like a piece of art and put on the plate with a certain style.  Hence, many tourists can't pass up the opportunity to snap a photo before they gobble them up. 
Another to-do while in Gipuzkoa are the cider houses, here called sidrerías.  You might recall reading about the places I've told you about that are in the country-side and have alcoholic cider in huge wooden barrels and its an all-you-can-drink plus an enormous steak dinner shindig?  Well, there is actually a 'cider season' but tourists still always ask, even if out of season, where they can experience it.  Thankfully some of them are open year-round and happy visitors get to experience filling thier glasses directly from the barrel with this bitter apple drink and feasting like a real Basque.

3) The open-air markets round out the top 3 photo opps in Gipuzkoa.  Easy to understand, I too was enthralled with these markets upon first arrival.  To this day, I still find them charming and a bit old world.  From veggies and fruit to lovely flowers and local honey, the most popular market in San Sebastian is the one in the Old Part.  Set up every morning on the main street, this outdoor markets stands at ground-level, while below a maze of food stands occupy the lower level.  Also bursting at the seams, I love to pass this street scene on sunny days, and normally see atleast one tourist sneaking a shot of the hustle and bustle in action.  The article states that the markets in two interior citys - Tolosa and Ordizia are even more charming, and since I want to be a fabulous touristy resident, they have now been added to my to-do list on my never-ending stay in Gipuzkoa.

4) This list-topper is curiously NOT in the county.  People come from all over the world to see Gipuzkoa, but seeing how the Guggenheim Museum is only an hour away in Bilbao, the majority of Gipuzkoa tourists make the trip one hour to say they have seen this curvy and eye-catching building and to take the basically required shot of the huge flower dog at the entrance.  I took this one after only like 2 weeks of living here.  Now that it is off the check-list, I feel no need to take it again, but will admit anyone who comes to visit, I of course take, to make sure they also have this iconic photo of Bilbao, which is possibly one of the most photographed things in the entire city!
5) With MORE than enough of this category, I could make a list of just coastal photos - the #5 photo opp.  After working in Hondarribi, one of the most beautiful coastal towns is great in every photo.  With its skinny 3 or 4-story houses lining a street full of pintxo bars and terraces, the red and green Basque colors add personality to an already enchating village.  Apart from this lovely Gipuzkoa city, another top-photo is that of the 'flysch' in between Zumaia and Getaria.  This natual rock formation is a perfect way to use the landscape as a tourist pull says Iñaki Garamedia in the article, and it's true.  To get there, you need to go hiking or by boat, so tourists get a bit of outdoorsy experience while marvelling at this lovely but odd coast shot.

6) This shot remains undone for me.  A massive and astounding basilica in the interior Basque Country, I have wanted to see it for a lot of time.  Now that this list has come out and I realize I have yet to go, it is ranking even higher!  Guaranteed by the end of the summer you will see a blog about the Loyola Basilica.  Hold me to it ok?

7) Embarassingly, another must do for me is #7, which are the natural caves in the interior area.  You basically HAVE TO have a car to get to these places.  Since before knowing Joseba I didn't know anyone with a car, this one was a bit difficult to accomplish.  Now that I have informed Joseba about my 'need' to check this off the list, you can also count on a blog about some caves in the near future. 

8) While on vacation, you can never throw out a good museum visit.  One of the most photographed used to be the Chillida-Leku museum.  In Basque that roughly translates to Chillida Space/Spot, and is a sculpture park filled with works by the Basque Country's famous artist Eduardo Chillida.  However, just a year ago the guide books had to stop recommending it because of it's closure.  I managed to see it before it closed though.  Lucky girl!  Now that musems that top the list are San Telmo (which just opened like 2 months ago) and the Balenciaga museum dedicated to the famous fashion designer from the coastal town of Getaria.  The San Telmo museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Basque Country and with free passes from my work, Joseba and I will definitley be going soon.  As for the Balenciaga one...sorry guys, I'm not fashionista enough to have been.  And honestly, it's not on the list.  Hope I haven't disappointed you.

9) The 'every day life' photo comes in at #9.  Depending on the time of the year you come, this photo could be anything.  From street-filling protests (very Basque) to full-costume dances or a Basque handball game or seeing a txalaparta being played in the street, just living here has exposed me to much more than a normal tourist would see.  I normally carry my camera in my purse even to this day, because although I am now a real resident, I am still tickled pink by all the action in the street on any given day.  This shot is a photo of some Basque dancers on a day I just happened to pass through the Constitution Square in the Old Part one sunny day - one spot that surely never lets you down!

10) Rounding out the list is a photo of one of the many festivals in this small city.  With live music at the Jazz Festival in July or the 'Semana Grande' (Big Week) in August complete with a national firework competition for 7 days straight or the star-studded Film Festival in September, there are many a photo opportunity for tourists that happen or plan to be here during these times.  Three years now, I of course have a few photos from each.  The one I will share with you though is the first one I took - my first film festival.  This one is me, standing in front of the Kursaal, the convention center/concert hall/place where they have all the famous actors and actresses arriving spot.  Taking this photo about a week into being here, I had no idea I would become a constant tourist with a resident card.  For me it's the beginning of my many a touristy photos...and of course many more to come!


1 comment:

Steffi said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

Tourist Photos