Despite only being in San Sebastian for a short time, on this trip, I have actually visited this beautiful seaside town a few years ago. San Sebastian is located in the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country In Spain, and I think it is one of the Best Places Solo Travel can take you.
San Sebastian is a tourist resort town with beautiful beaches. I arrived there on my recent trip, by train from Barcelona which was a nice ride. It was a refreshing contrast to the busy city of Barcelona.
The other bonus here was that I felt a lot safer than in Barcelona. I was advised by several people in Barcelona to keep my backpack to the front and to watch out for pick pockets. Although I do still advise to be on the alert at all times and to be aware of your surroundings, San Sebastian definitely had a safer feel to it.
On this point you may want to read my earlier blog about keeping yourself safe while traveling, it is Travel Tips For Women Traveling Alone
San Sebastian is located right near the beach and I just happened to be near Zurriola Beach. I took advantage of this and walked out of the town which was quite busy and gearing up for the evening, and I headed for the sea.
Walking along the waterfront road was a nice evening walk and it seemed to lure me along. I would have liked to get on top of the hill to see the views but it was getting late and I was aware that the daylight was fading. I walked past this very cool building and wondered what it might be.
It looked a bit deserted even though it was prime real estate right on the waterfront. Subsequent research revealed that it is the Gipuzkoa Photographic Society. They are certainly in the right place for inspiration.
This was a pleasant summer’s evening walk and the sea breeze was a welcome change to the hot day that I had been traveling in. Around the point was the marina and the La Concha Beach. Finding myself in part of the Old Town was a nice step back into time. The place was bustling with bars and tapas and an outdoor market.
Even though it was busy it had a great atmosphere with narrow historic street and interesting shops, eating places, and bars. This area evidently has the highest concentration of bars, but it didn’t feel like that as I wandered around the town it
Tapas – Pintxos
Spain is famous for Tapas and San Sebastian is no exception, although they are called, Pintxos, in the Basque
Country, which of course San Sebastian is a part of. The Pintxos were prolifically displayed in all the bars along the way and you could see the displays of them from the doorway of each eating place or bar as you pass by.
This is such a great way to try different foods in a small serving, without waiting for it to be prepared. You can see exactly what you are getting and each portion or Pintxos is not too expensive. it is the ultimate gourmet, fast food with the feel of a buffet. I really enjoyed that way of eating.
On the boardwalk waterfront area is a beautiful antique looking Carousel, merry-go-round. It was created or renovated in 1998 from an earlier version from 1900. It looks very cool and traditional and is a great icon for the town. The Carousel doesn’t just have horses but also, swans, tigers, dolphins, cars, airplanes and giraffes. It is a unique icon.
The Basque Country
San Sebastian is located in what is known as The Basque Country. It is a unique area of Spain that has traditionally
been isolated and surrounded by mountainous regions. This has in turn created a unique language, and culture which actually flows into the Southern part of France as well, and crosses the Pyrenees Mountains. The language is unlike anything else and dates back to farmers in the region as far back as 6 thousand years. There is a lot that is not known about the language.
In 1939 Francisco Franco became ruler of Spain and the Basque language was outlawed, and was at risk of dying out. This is an interesting fact that is similar to the Welsh language that I mentioned in my blog about Wales.
The language is now permitted to be spoken although only 27% of people in the Basque Country speak the language now. If you are interested in learning more about this, and hearing the Basque language being spoken there is an interesting video on YouTube .
Although San Sebastian is best known and most popular for the beautiful beaches, Zurriola Beach, Beach of La Concha and Ondaretta Beach, I am not really a, sit on the beach person. My most recent visit was relatively short so I feel that I need to return and explore a bit further into the area. I would like to visit some museums as I always find that is a great way to get a crash course in the history of an area.
The only thing that I might do different is to plan my accommodation a little sooner. Because San Sebastian is one of the most expensive places to stay in Spain, it pays to book sooner rather than later. I made the mistake of booking only a day or so out from when I went, due to my preference of spontaneity in my travels. I was left with the choice of expensive accommodation or a shared Dorm room
I figured that as I wasn’t staying long that it might be OK to stay in the cheaper option, and thought that there might be a bonus of meeting some fellow travelers. Well, I was wrong on that count. The place was the 5th floor of an apartment block in the center of the town. It took me 20 minutes to get into the building and the reception from the host was not friendly nor was it in English. The six dorm type beds were makeshift camping type bunk beds that did not look very sturdy. The place was overcrowded and had signs up saying, no cooking and no washing. I left and spent the rest of the night in the bus station waiting for my bus to France. I felt way safer there in the early hours of the morning than staying at the dorm room.
Although I had booked this on line it was not the fault of Booking.com. I have used this site for many bookings on my travels and always find good inexpensive accommodation at short notice – apart from this one time.
I recommend Booking.com if you need accommodation for San Sebastian