When it comes to doing all the traveling you’re supposed to do while studying abroad, I have three major regrets – Spain, Greece and Ireland. Good thing I was able to rectify the first one, a little bit, with my visit to San Sebastian. I loved every bit of it.
Coming off from my train, I fell immediately in love with the architecture (Roman influence present), and of course, the beach.
The city is one of the bigger ones we visited, and we knew we didn’t have enough time to go around on foot, so we took the city tour bus. It was a good way to see the entire city. Audio guide was available and pointed us out to all the major sites. We sat on the second level, and I have to admit, the ride was a bit too comfortable and I fell asleep. Unless it was from the sangria I had lunch.
(PC: Ariel Xian Wu)
There are some nice churches to visit as well, but they were either closed for Sunday mass, or they just close it after mass. But at least I could admire the architecture from the outside.
The San Sebastian specialty is pinxtos. In the ‘old town’ part of the city, you can find several restaurants for this. They will be all laid out on the counters as buffet-style. You will find a huge assortment of finger-foods wherever you go. Places serve more a less of the same thing. The highlight, I would say, is probably the jambon. Always the jambon.
Come lunch time, all the places become crowded. But don’t let the hanging jambon and the lively atmosphere fool you! Nothing pre-made is ever that good…trust me. (We did venture into one for our second round of tapas and was very disappointed, and aghast by the amount we had to pay for it).
I’m not into the whole buffet-style, self-serving thing. I rather have something fresh. If something had been pre-made and laid sitting there for the next few hours…it won’t taste good. The only place that served up tapas that was actually cooked on the spot was at La Cuchara de San Telmo, where I had the best tapas of my life! I highly recommend this restaurant for anyone visiting San Sebastian. It took us a while to find, and in the end, we had to enlist the help of another English speaker (who was extremely kind and walked us to the place after having searched it up on his phone).
The place is sort of hidden from the public, but that’s a good thing since it got soooo crowded so fast. It is filled with locals, and only a few other tourists. They also serve their pinxtos the good-old fashion way, by yelling your name when your order is ready. The only other place where I’ve had this in Paris was at L’Avant Comptoir, which I adore.
We were both craving seafood, and seeing this on their counter as they were preparing their kitchen almost killed us (in a good way). We were so ready to pounce on that octopus.
We started off with octopus, veal cheeks and seared tuna. All 100% on point.
A good seafood place will never mess up their scallops.
We ordered risotto and ravioli as well, after hearing numerous locals shouting those dishes over our shoulders. Not to be missed!
We also ordered pig trotters and pig ears…which may sound weird to the norm, but we saw the couple next to us order it and it looked soooo delicious, we had to have it. Both for lightly fried to perfection. Perfect amount of flavor and fat to bring us to cloud nine.
8 tapas and 2 sangrias came with the cost of only 36 euros. Someone pinch me!
If San Sebastian is any representation of what Spain is like, I for sure have to make a trip just to go around the country in the future.
La Cuchara de San Telmo
Calle 31 de Agosto, 28, San Sebastian – Donostia, SpainPhone: 943435446 * All food pictures credited to Ariel Xian Wu.