San Sebastian was our last stop in Spain… we had a lovely time getting to learn about the Basque region.. and eating all the delicious Pinxtos! What was the most dramatic “pinxto” of all? Baby eel.
The drive from Madrid to San Sebastian was beautiful! There was a lot of undeveloped, beautiful landscape – mountains, farmland, forest and interesting rock formations and sheep on the hillsides. It reminded me of New Zealand.
Segovia.. those Romans could BUILD!
As a midpoint in our ~5 hour drive, we stopped in Segovia to see the Roman Aqueduct which was first built ~2000 years ago. And it was AWESOME! It’s tall – nearly 100 ft high and incredibly straight, especially given it’s length. History takes on a different meaning here in Europe. I wonder how many man-made structures in the US will still be around after 2000 years.
We also visited the Alcazar of Segovia which was originally built in the 1100’s. It was interesting for two primary reasons: 1.) some people think it inspired the design for Disney’s Cinderella castle (see the slate spires) 2.) the castle (exterior and interior) have been restored really well and include a lot of Moorish influence
Overall, we had a lovely time in Segovia and would definitely return and spend more time there. Joe couldn’t help but take a TON of pictures in this beautiful city.
San Sebastian.. Welcome to the land of Pintxos!
Our Airbnb in San Sebastian was great. We were able to walk to everything – great restaurants in the old city, beach and sites. And what a gorgeous setting this was…
San Sebastian is known for their food, especially the pintxos — fancy tapas offered buffet style. Many of the “restaurants” (bars, really) are small establishments and stand-up-only … but we were always able to find a place with tables so our kids could park their rear-ends. 🙂
The way you’re supposed to eat pintxos is a procedure like this: walk into a bar/restaurant, get a few pintxos and a glass of wine, eat ’em … and then go to another place and do it again! Being gluten-free, dairy-free and not a big fan of seafood made this a little difficult for me, but Joe loved the whole scene. On our first night in town, we authentically moved from one place to another, watching the football game, eating pinxtos, trying new foods. Great fun.
And.. the kids have continued to be good sports (especially Alexander) about trying new food and even tried a pintxo with baby eels. Still — “it wasn’t their preference.”
Pamplona… our own Bull Run
We also took a fun day trip to Pamplona where we walked the Running of the Bulls route. It’s really interesting to see that in person– it’s much shorter than I imagined, only like half-a-mile. And in the beginning, the humans start at the TOP of the hill, solidly in front of the bulls… who have to run all the way to the top.
When we arrived, Joe and I shared a bottle of wine over lunch – can’t remember the last time we did that. In Spain, lunch is generally the biggest meal of the day and the best value at restaurants is to order the “menu” (yes, it’s called that). “Menu” is the meal-of-the-day which includes an appetizer, entrée, dessert and a ½ bottle of wine per person.
After a delicious meal, we sat on a bench in a square and took a short snooze while the kids played. We’re trying to really understand and live the culture here! We adults take our world-schooling seriously too!
Goodbye San Sebastian, Goodbye Spain!
One minor bummer about our few days in San Sebastian is that while they had lovely beaches, the weather was cloudy with intermittent rain. So, instead of lying out on the beach, we re-started our family runs and did a great hike up Mount Arguella to see the tall statue of St. Sebastian overlooking the town and his beautiful views!
Spain… a few LAST RANDOM OBSERVATIONS about this amazing country
- People eat so late! Lunch at 2pm, Dinner at 10pm. We were sleeping in until 9:30am…I loved it! And somehow, I even managed to stay awake late enough every night to eat like a Spaniard. Joe was in heaven, the kids were champs!Spain – lots of garbage cans (what a huge contrast to Tokyo)Lots if pedestrian and cycling lanes. I loved this too.
- LOVED walking around the cities… lots of narrow streets like Morocco.. but also amazing wide pedestrian walkways in places like Barcelona. Great city planning!
- Lots of windmills and some solar farms… very progressive!
- Basque area is a lot like New Zealand… Lots of sheep in Basque hills – for sheep milk cheese
- Great rest stops off highway with restaurant, store, gas (like Morocco)
- Open to refugees. Multiple large signs on govt buildings saying “Refugees Welcome”