I had high expectations of San Sebastian and it was even better than I expected. I kinda fell in love.
San Sebastian was on my wishlist since I moved to Spain. I heard so many good things about it. And after tasting some pinchos in C/ Blai in Barcelona (don’t go there, just don’t!). I really wanted to go to the city of pinchos to try the real ones. All I knew was that there is good food and a pretty coast line. And Sakona Coffee Roasters. That’s all I knew. That’s all I needed. And I am sure it was not the last time I visit San Sebastian or Donostia, because I think I can live in this city. What to do in San Sebastian? Here is a mini guide to show you why I fell in love with this surfing town in Basque.
I knew that San Sebastian had to be included in our road trip (soon more about this). After almost three days in sunny Barcelona it was time to drive to San Sebastian. It’s like a 5 hour drive across the north of Spain. I was behind the wheel the last couple of hours. When we got closer to the city I was amazed by the landscape. It was changing from dry, flat and sandy to mountainous and green. Going up and down hills or through the mountains through tunnels. Had to keep my eyes on the road, but had some quick glances next to me. It was definitely one of the most beautiful roads of the road trip. We were only staying for one day and one night, so mini guide it is!
BED TIME STORIES
How difficult it is to find a nice spot to sleep in France, so easy it is in Spain I realized. Plenty of nice and affordable hostels and hotels to find. Because we were going around by car, the best way is to find a place to stay outside the city centre and with a parking lot. We found a room at TALO Urban Rooms. We already fell in love with it by seeing the photos, so you can imagine my response when entering the room. So pretty, trendy and minimalist. Exactly how I like it. Bedrooms from 65 euro and a secured parking lot for a full day is 13 euro. The hotel is easy to reach and find. You get a full description including codes to enter doors and elevators. Self check-in will provide you with cards to enter your room. Easy peasy! Like I said the room is trendy and minimalistic. Lot’s of white, pretty furniture, cool details like books, wallpapers and plants to decorate. A sink and fresh white towels next to the bed and a toilet and large shower in the bathroom. We also had access to a balcony that gives a nice view over San Sebastian. The bed was super comfortable and fluffy with good pillows. I was sad we only would stay here for one night, because I could stay here forever.
After waking up in the fluffy bed in TALO Urban Rooms -where I could have stayed all day- but there was exploring to do and caffeine to get. Normally I have a huge list of specialty coffee place that I would like to see, but because we were only staying one day I just wanted to visit Sakona Coffee Roasters. It’s almost 30 minutes walk from the hotel to the café, but it’s definitely worth it. I love strolling down cute little streets. Sakona Coffee Roasters is located almost next the surf beach of the city. You can feel the same vibe at this specialty coffee shop as in the city. There is kind of a relaxing cool atmosphere hanging in San Sebastian which is really pleasant. I knew Sakona from the time I was living in Barcelona and ever since it was on my list to visit. I’ve tried their coffee maybe once of twice before and I didn’t look up anything about the shop. I was happily surprised when we entered the shop. A beautiful café with big windows and very open which makes it feel like inside and outside are connected. Lot’s of places to sit down. A large bar with a Victoria Arduino espresso machine and grinders. I sipped my usual, a double espresso. It’s been some time ago, but I think it was a fruity juicy Kenyan espresso. I remember that it was really well made and balanced. Sakona is also your spot if I you need to full your belly. We enjoyed some avocado toast and egg benedict. The eggs were a bit too raw for my taste, but the rest was tasty and did the trick to make my belly happy.
IT COMES IN WAVES
From Sakona you walk easily to the beach where all the surfers hang out. When you think about San Sebastian and surfers you might think about sunny warm days. Unfortunately our only day in the city was a grey day. But actually it had something magical. We were thinking to walk up to Mt. Urgull for the best view over the bay, but because it was so grey we probably won’t see a thing. So we decided to walk from Zurriola hondartza (the surf beach) to La Concha Beach. I think it took us three hours, because we stopped every 100 meters to take a photo. Seeing the waves crashing the coast and splashing water on my friend. Could watch this for hours. Sadly I was to late to capture this moment. It’s hard to describe how beautiful it is and the feeling it gave me, but I think the photos below speak for itselves. Let me say it was magical, I fell in love and I realized I could live in this town.
Last but not least, pintxos! When you’re in San Sebastian you definitely have to do a pintxos crawl. We started our tour at Antxoas Txepetxa. Just one thing before starting throwing weird words around. Even if you speak Spanish or know some Catalan like me, the Basque dialect is strange. Couldn’t make anything from the words. So Bar Txepetxa. They are famous for their anchovy. The place is full of photos of famous people who come here for their daily portion of anchovy. Before starting your crawl know that you eat and drink standing, at the bar, on the street or in the middle of the place. You have two hands, pintxo in one and the other hand is for a glass of txakoli, the local wine in San Sebastian. I saw bartenders pouring a wine from up high in a glass and I knew it had to be good. It’s a kind of sparkly white wine that is a bit more acidic. It remembers me a bit of apple cider. The older couple that started talking to me at the bar straight away explained me that the grapes of txakoli grow closer to the sea. It works really good with pintxos, it’s cheap and easy to drink. After eating a pintxo with anchovy it was time for the next bar. The chatty older couple gave me some tips so we went to Borda Berri, Bar Sport and Ganbara. I had some really nice tapas, but everything is pretty heavy with mayonnaise, fish and meat. As being a vegetarian/vegan, I got full pretty fast and I realized it’s not really my kind of food. But I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the bars and ofcourse the txakoli. By the way if you see a lot of napkins on the floor of the pintxo bar, don’t freak out because it’s a good thing. People just throw them on the floor. The more napkins, the more people have eaten here.
I have to say -now that I am writing down everything combined with the photos- we had a full San Sebastian experience in only one day. I totally recommend to stay longer in this beautiful city and enjoy some time in the sun on the beach, walk up Monte Urgull and hike along the coast to Pasaia. That’s what I would have done if I had more time. But maybe one day I will live here for a while and fall in love over and over again with Donostia.