Saturday, October 17, 2009

Donostia - San Sebastián

San Sebastián (or Donostia in the Basque language) is a crescent shaped coastal city located in the north of Spain, in the Basque Country. It's a superb destination for a relaxing long weekend getaway, where you can pass time lazing on the beaches, bar hop for pintxos, go up any of the 3 small mountains for a breath of fresh air and fantastic views, or just get lost in the narrow streets of the old quarter and discover historical monuments along the way.

Above: Panaromic view of San Sebastián from Mount Igeldo.
Visible here are, clockwise from the left, Mount Urgull at the opposite end, 2 strips of beaches - Playa de la Concha & Playa de Ondarreta, and the Island of Santa Clara in the middle of the bay, accessible by boat.

Mount Igeldo itself (where I took this shot) is accessible by car or by funicular from the bottom which takes you up to an old school amusement park and the foot of a viewing tower.

Apart from relaxation and sight-seeing, San Sebastián is also a foodie's paradize. It's apparently one of the cites with the most number of Michelin Star restaurants!

Above: A typical pintxo bar, with a great variety of pintxos laid out across the counter. Though they look like small bites, they can be really filling!

Above: A must try of course, is Basque seafood accompanied by cider, which is meant to be poured in small amounts from a height of 30cm to aerate the drink, enhancing its flavour.

Left: The colossal statue of the Sacred Heart standing on top of Mount Urgull.
Right: The lush greenery of San Sebastian punctuated by a girl in red.

Top: The fishing port area located near the Mount Urgull end of the bay.

Left: Stacked surf boards kept by the side of the port.
Right: Assorted melons and pumpkins sold in a market.

Left: The exterior of a house by the port decorated with flower pots.
Right: An ornate street lamp along Paseo de la Concha.

Top: The neo-gothic Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, towering 75m high.

** Next to the Cathedral on Plaza Buen Pastor, there is a cafe called Caravanserai Cafe, which is a great place for breakfast or a cup of coffee. They don't have a great variety, but what they have are THE BEST croissants and puff pastries ever. **

Above set of 4 pics: Amazing rock formations seen around Playa de Ondarreta. Geological occurences from millions of years ago, today immortalized as vertical flat sheets of rock leaning on one another, which were once part of the horizontal sea floor.

Top: At the Mount Igeldo end of the bay. 2 of the set of 3 iron sculptures by Eduardo Chillida embedded into rocks, named Peine del Viento / 'Wind Comb'.

The Old Vs. The New
Left: The Plaza de la Constitución in the old town.
Right: The Kursaal Congress Palace & Auditorium - an avant garde building designed to resemble 2 glass cubes on the beach, holds several important annual events like the International Film Festival.

Left: Artist Jorge Oteiza's work titled "Empty Construction".
Right: Another view of Artist Eduardo Chillida's iron sculptures "Peine del Viento".

*These two masterpieces of the two famous artists located on opposite ends of the bay are seen as a symbolic representation of the end of their estrangement from each other.*

If you've got more time, you can also easily visit the other Basque cities, or even drive across the border to France like I did! More on Biarritz (France) and Bilboa coming up soon!


  1. Aww stunning pictures. Don't let your photography talent go to waste! By the way, Felicia, have u contacted InMadrid to discuss possibilites to freelance for them? I'm writing a piece for them, and they're pretty open to people like us. Give it a shot! Talk to u soon, take care! Nell

  2. Very nice set FF! Congrats on Expatica! :)

  3. Thanks for the encouragement Nell!
    Thanks too Jaime, see ya soon!


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