Saturday, July 14, 2012

San Sebastian with the familia

Last week my Dad and my brother Max dropped by San Sebastian on the way to their super trip to Italy.  I, of course, was super excited to see them after something like 3 years and to be able to show them around my newest hometown.  It's hard to describe how gorgeous San Sebastian is, or get you to taste the mouth-watering pintxos without having you actually bite into one, or have you appreciate the waves crashing against the mountains or seeing France from the street - it's all just something you have to see with your own eyes, so I was excited they would be able to do so.

After a long journey we kept Saturday night simple with some tasty pintxos.  For a 16-year old, Max was quite open to trying food that at 16 I wouldn't have even looked at!  From my favorite Idiazabal Cheese risotto at Borda Berri bar to the delicious Serrano Ham at La Cepa, we made sure to have him try lots of new drinks too - white wine from Rueda, red wine from La Rioja and some Txakoli from Getaria!  His ranking was #1 - txakoli, the Basque wine, # 2 - Rueda white wine and in sad 3rd place the red wine from the Rioja region of Spain, which he said tasted like some cough syrup haha! 

Sunday morning we met them after sleeping in a bit and were off on a busy day - first starting with the walking tour of Donostia.  We wandered around the Old Part, admiring the massive churches, little bars and the little details of the buildings.  We continued our walk through the port and then kicked it into high gear as we hiked up to see Jesus atop Mt. Urgull.  For a gray-haired man, my dad sped up the hill faster than us kids!  Needless to say, when we reached the top, we were in need of a breath of fresh air and the best place for that is at Jesus' feet looking out over the whole city. 

After a failed attempt to see some San Fermin festival stuff in a town a bit out of San Sebastian, we hopped in the car and headed along the coast to Getaria, a famous little fishing village in Basque Country.  Known as the birthplace of Elkano, the man who took over for Magellan when he died and successfully circumnavigated the Earth, Getaria is a place oozing with charm.  From the few cobblestone streets that make up the whole town, it seems there are almost as many fish restaurants as people!  With an outdoor grill, the cooks lay the fish in a iron basket and cook it right there.  We decided that seeing as that was the specialty of the town that we would eat that for our lunch and boy we weren't disappointed.  Between the squid, giant prawns, sea bass and cod, we were all happy with our meals and had happy bellies as we left the little restaurant with sea views nesteled on a secret little street. 

Soon after we met Joseba's mother in his hometown of Orio for a coffee in the main plaza.  Being a small place, we showed them the must sees - the church, the Old Part and of course the Town Hall where we got married, it's a must ;)

Having eaten like Kings before, when it came dinner time we were quite stuffed and only managed a few pintxos before calling it a night.  The next morning I had managed to get off work and met the boys for an adventure to Hondarribia, the last town on the Spanish side of the Basque Country.  From the bus we could even see France and Max got pretty impressed.  The Old Part of Hondarribia was as charming as always and made for good people watching while we passed brightly colored homes and stone-laid plazas. 

With another entire country being so close, the boys couldn't pass up the idea of having lunch in France.  When you say it like that, it sounds pretty crazy, but the truth is it was only about 25 minutes from my house!  We made it to the ferry just as it was boarding and ready to leave and in a few minutes were stepping off the boat onto French land, although still the Basque Country.  Being Monday mid-day, it was quite calm in Hendaye, France and the beach seemed to stretch for ages. 

Since none of us spoke French we muddled through the menu and eventually ordered and enjoyed our meal and after a few mercis were back strolling the promenade.  Going from Spain to France is just as easy as crossing state lines, but the funny thing was the difference that we immediatley noticed upon arrival.  Just a mere stones throw away, the Spanish side was loud and lively with people bustling around the streets and drinking in the outdoor terraces.  France on the other hand had the people but not the noise, it was almost silent!  It's strange how two different peoples can live so near to each other but be so drastically different.  Max was pleased to cross another country off his Euro-list but did say that the whole culture shock was quite a bit overwhelming! 

Since I wasn't feeling too hot, when we headed back to San Sebastian I went home for a rest and let the boys have some man time and around 9pm that evening we met up again, this time with Joseba for the oh-so-famous Cider House meal.  Consisting of a cod omelet, a cod fish with peppers, a massive and quite bloody steak followed by the Idiazabal sheep cheese and quince jelly it is amazingly delicious.  Being boys that like steak, Dad and Max were happy campers and Max even took a liking to the Basque cider, which Dad became an expert at pouring like a local (from up high). 

With a whirlwind Basque experience, they had to leave the next day to carry on with their travels in Venice, Florence and Rome so we bid them Agur but know we will be seeing them soon!


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