San Sebastián 2019

To Spain to eat all the pinxtos.

5 days ― April 2019

Part 1: To San Sebastián

With some time off from work, my mom and I visited San Sebastián for a few days. Day 1 included much walking and many pintxos.

Rezola cement museum and factory #

What better way to start a holiday than with a visit to the local cement museum and factory. The museum was quick to go through with a couple cool models. More impressive was the real factory next door.

Lynn stands in front of the Rezola cement factory. There’s a winding cycle path in front of her.
A close shot of the wall of the Rezola cement factory. The wall is made of grey corrugated steel with yellow trim.

Monte Igueldo #

A short funicular ride up monte Igueldo brings visitors to a great view back over San Sebastián’s beaches.

Looking out the window to the stairwell of the Monte Igueldo funicular station.
Inside the funicular station.
Looking down on the beaches of San Sebastián from above.

Rather bizarrely, there’s a small funfair at the top of the mountain.

A retro looking sign that reads ‘Cosmicar entrada’ with sci-fi looking graphics.
Bumper cars sit unused at the top of a mountain. In the background the city of San Sebastián can be seen below.
Dodgems on a mountain side.
Looking straight on to a green doorway. The door is covered in stickers and graffiti.

The Comb of the Wind #

A lovely sculpture by Eduardo Chillida at the base of monte Igueldo.

A photo of two parts of a large iron sculpture by artist Eduardo Chillida. The sculptures sit on the coastline with the sea to the right. One piece dominates in the foreground, with another just visible in the background.
The Comb of the Wind, 1977, by Eduardo Chillida.
A close photo of a rusting iron sculpture by artist Eduardo Chillida. The sculpture splits in to three arms that curve outwards and then inwards.
The Comb of the Wind, 1977, by Eduardo Chillida.
A photo looking down on choppy sea water from above.

Part 2: Eating all the pintxos

What do people do when they visit San Sebastián? They eat.

We were no exception.

With thanks to Chris’s foursquare list and our AirBnB host’s home-made pintxo map, we visited more than 20 pintxos bars over 4 says. Lots of great micro-dishes.

I listened to a podcast last year that talked about how people only really remember the first bite of a dish. So you might go for an truly amazing meal - but if you only have one dish you’ll only really remember that first bite. One memory. But if you try several dishes, you’ll have a much richer memory. It ended by recommended sharing more dishes and getting starters over mains - you’ll try more and have more memories of the occasion. Eating pintxos is exactly like this - in an evening you’re having 10-20 different bites. So many more memories.

I don’t have any photos of them, but the potato tortillas everywhere were great. I’m on the hunt now for similar ones in London.

Looking directly down the Urumea river to the next bridge. There’s lots of green trees on each side of the bank, and the water is calm.
View down the river Urumea.
Looking up at an ornate bandstand roof. The bandstand is oval in shape and the upper walls have stained glass.

Our pintxo stand-outs in order:

If I had to pick one to recommend it would be Casa Urola in a heartbeat - everything we tried was fantastic and interesting. The beef at Gandaria was tastiest single thing I had, but the other dishes were so so.

A plate of pintxos on a wooden bench next to a basket of bread, a glass of beer, and a glass of white wine. One pinxto is a slice of baguette with ham. The other is half of a sea urchin.
Sea urchin pinxo - one of Gandarias’ specialties.
A plate of fried mushrooms with an unbroken egg yoke in the centre.
Hongos at Ganbara.
Looking down on a plate of food. There’s two fried pieces of cod’s chek, with a sprig of seaweed and green dressing drizzled about.
Cod’s cheek at La Cuchara de San Telmo
A close up of a bowl of food. The bowl contains a single scallop in a white cream sauce. There’s scattered fried seaweed on top.
Scallops at Casa Urola
A close up of a small bowl of food with a spoon in the side. The bowl contains two chunks of octopus in a white creamy sauce.
Octopus at Casa Urola
A plate of food just before it gets eaten. A knife and fork are poised to cut in to the plate. The plate contains a single large piece of meat with crispy skin.
Pork at La Cuchara de San Telmo
A small piece of beef sits on a plate green vinaigrette and a glass of beer in the background.
Beef cheeks at La Cuchara de San Telmo
A sunset over the bay in San Sebastián. There’s trees and signs in the foreground causing many silhouettes to break the sunset.
Just after sunset looking over the bay in San Sebastián.
At night time, looking down the beach promenade to the city. There’s a mix of yellow sodium lamps with more modern white leds.

Part 3: Getaria and on to Bilbao airport

With a spare day and sun in the forecast, we caught the bus for the neighbouring town of Getaria. Fabled to have amazing seafood and picturesque streets.

A narrow street in Getaria, with sunlight on one side.
Looking up at the exterior of a church window. The surround is made from brown bricks, and you can see the neighbouring building reflected in the window glass.
Looking up to a circular opening in a wooden roof.

Getaria is certainly picturesqe - but we struck out on the food front. Every restaurant we tried wanted reservations. No walk-ups here.

Looking across to the other side of a street in Getaria. In the central divider there is a red rowing boat.
A concrete sculpture at the side of the road. The sculpture resembles origami with lots of folded corners.
A roadside sculpture resembling origami - located here.

With some time off work I decided to extend my holiday - travelling to Bilbao airport to catch a flight to Lisbon. I showed my mom off at the bus station and ventured on to more sun and sights.

Inside the San Sebastián bus station. The loading bay is large and dark, with a circular sculpture in the middle, letting light in from above.
The San Sebastián bus station loading bay.
Cracked white markings on tarmac. They’re in a regular grid pattern with arrows at one end.
Looking down to a street intersection.
The interior of the roof of Bilbao airport.