San Sebastián: The City

This is the first of a three-part series on my two days in San Sebastián in Pais Vasco.

First, a story on what it took to get to this coastal city in the first place.

As mentioned in the Bilbao post, I booked this vacation last minute. That plus the fact I had a final presentation Thursday evening and couldn’t leave until afterwards meant that flights to a beach town for the weekend were outrageously expensive. So ever the scrooge, I looked for and found an overnight bus that left later after my presentation and arrive the next morning. While a 13-hour bus ride didn’t seem like a ton of fun, it was a quarter of the price of a flight and I figured I would sleep most of it.

Haha. Ha. Ha.

Let me please say for the record that ever since That One Time The Volcano In Mexico City Spewed Smoke Everywhere And Delayed My Departure By Three Days, me and transportation/traveling between cities and countries have not gotten along. My flight to Spain was the most uneventful travel I’ve had the entire semester.

This bus was no different. Between a random festival parade (Feria dresses, horses etc. Why Sevilla. Why.) and a victory celebration for Sevilla’s soccer team, the bus arrived in Sevilla almost 30 minutes late. Not a big deal.

However, we then stopped in Cordoba about two hours later (a scheduled stop) at which point we were told that we all had to switch to a different bus because ours was broken (not scheduled). This new bus already had people on it and had barely enough seats for everyone, thus, most people couldn’t get their original seat numbers back (I was one of the lucky first ones on and snagged my ninth row window seat up again thank you very much).

This was around 10:30 at night. We finally take off again, I eat my sandwich that Margarita packed for me (love her) and start settling in to try to sleep. The guy next to me turns his light on to read at midnight (You, sir, are assigned to the lowest level of hell). I start to doze off and oh hey another scheduled stop!

What was unscheduled was the Guardia Civil (the national police force) arriving to randomly search our bus. Which meant that at 1:30 in the morning, everyone had to get off the bus with their luggage (both on the bus itself and from the storage area underneath and stand in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere while the police searched the bus. The Guardia Civil (thorough that they are) then decided to “randomly search” luggage on an individual basis. I say “randomly” because they 1. Picked four men and 2. Three of those men were African.

So after that fun little lesson in subconscious racism in Spain, almost an hour later we were back on the road. We stopped three more times about 2-2.5 hours apart. Each time, all the lights on the bus came on which=no sleep which=fairly grumpy me.

But then we made it to San Sebastián and who even cares about the Guardia Civil when your hostel is a 2 minute walk from this:

La Concha Beach (Kontxa in Euskara, the Basque language)

I spent the day wandering San Sebastián’s old town (Remember that aesthetic I talked about? Here it is).

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I then went to the San Telmo Museum, which is a museum about Basque culture and history and was fascinating. The museum had a modern facade but the different exhibits surrounded the courtyard of an old Dominican monastery.

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The exhibits were mostly dark (aside from the paintings) so it was hard to get good pictures, but here is a sample!

By Jose Maria Sert, an artist from Barcelona in the late 1800s/early 1900s. This is a canvas painting. There are several smaller ones on the sides of the former chapel.
One of my favorite paintings I saw. “Dos Mujeres de Tafilalet”
Old flag
Former children’s schoolbook

I also hiked to the top of Monte Urgull next to the museum and got some amazing views from the old fortress.

View of Monte Urgull from the beach
Zurriola beach on the other side of old town from la Concha is not for swimming, but for surfing due to the larger waves.

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Statue of Jesus Christ at the very top of the mountain

More random pictures! San Sebastián was just gorgeous.

I was really proud of myself for capturing this with the cathedral in the background
The sun finally came out for good late in the day on Friday

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I went out Saturday night to watch sunset, because I’ve decided to make it my goal to purposely watch it in as many new places as possible.

Early sunset. I love how you can clearly see the Jesus Christ statue on Monte Urgull in this picture
Just a few minutes later.

Next post: FOOD!

And as always,


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