San Sebastian is a beach town. Out at dawn, as the streets were slowing coming to life, we moved down the beach front path, past the modern Kursaal Exhibition Hall, over the Zurriola Bridge, and into the Parte Vieja, the old town. On the clear day, the cool ocean breeze moved through the narrow streets still wet from the street cleaning. In the shaded, empty canyons formed by the stone buildings, sounds of the emerging morning life echoed.
A small peninsula tipped by Parque Urqull and Parte Vieja (the old town) separates the two beach areas in San Sebastian. We wandered through Place de la Constitution, now an arcaded plaza lined with shops, but once the sight of bullfights. The apartments in the four story buildings that surround the courtyard are uniformly spaced and identically painted. Above each louvered door, the numbers that designate balcony seats once used by the bullfight patrons are still maintained. Continuing past the Gothic church, Eglise Santa Maria, and through the narrow streets we reached next bay, Bahia de la Concha. We stopped beside the town hall at Oyarzun Gozotegia for delicious pastries and café con leche.
Out of the old town, our next stop was the Neo Gothic Cathedrale El Buen Pastor (Cathedral of the Good Shepherd). I wish I took this picture: http://pi-production.fr/index.php?showimage=289!
We headed back to the room as the surfers with boards under the arms were making their way out to the waves. It had been a long walk and we were tired from the previous days travels, so we rested and napped while waiting for the card key issue to be resolved in our original room. Late in the day the repairs to the room were settled and we were able to move back into our original room. Still, I was sure to keep a good distance from the now inoperative room power activating card reader lest I suffer the electric fate of our host from the previous day.
Without much to eat for most of the day, we were ready from some serious pintxos. San Sebastian-style pintxos are known worldwide. We were determined to discover exactly why this is and were out on the streets for serious food crawl. Ganesan and Catherine chose a sit down meal, so we were on our own to try to find the best pintxos bars. Below I’ve listed our stops in order of decreasing preference. To our taste, the pintxos in San Sebastian were the best that we had in Spain. In fact, they were so good that we’d consider coming back to San Sebastian just for these small morsels. It seems a safe bet that we missed some good and, most likely, some better places. Our mouths begin to salivate just thinking about trying to find them.
Bar Alona-Berri, Bermingham 24 (our favorite)
For us, Alona-Berri had best though most expensive pintxos of any of the places that we went to in Spain. The flavor combinations were often unusual. If this were a sit down restaurant, a Michelin star wouldn’t be beyond consideration. The food is better described as avant-garde restaurant than typical bar food pintxos. But still, we were able satisfy our pimientos de Padron quota here.
Bergara Bar, General Artetxe 8,
Bar Ganabara, San Jerónimo, 21
This is our favorite place in the old town. We tried the gooseneck barnacles here. They tasted a bit like a very salty cross between a mussel and clam. It is a challenge to get the meat out of the shell, but the bartender gave us some hands on instructions.
Bar Astelena, Iñigo, 1
This place is very popular with the locals. It would be very popular with us too, if we lived in San Sebastian.
Casa Vergara, Mayor 21, http://www.casavergara.es/
More Jamon Iberico for us here. Do they deliver?
Bar Gorriti, San Juan 3
Bar Haizea, Aldamar N.8 (least favorite)
We’d skip the last two on a return visit and search for better ones.
Pictures from the pintxos crawl:
Pictures from the day: