Posted by: vlibrizzi | July 4, 2009

Summer Road Trip Stop #2: San Sebastian, Spain

DSC_0572We think we’ve found the place that is perfect for us. C says we’re going to retire here…I say we’re going to move here. 🙂

Seriously, San Sebastian, a town on the northern coast of Spain right over the French border, is the perfect town for us. It’s a small city, with amazing beaches, and, according to the Spanish, has the best food in all of Spain (and we agree!). 

But, before I get too carried away, let me start at the beginning of the Pyrenees leg of our trip…


DSC_0560We started this, the gastronomic leg of our trip, by stopping on our way down to Spain at a little town in the Bordeaux region of France called St. Emillion (photo to the left).








We walked around the town for a bit and then had a lunch in the main square while listening to live music and drinking a demi-bouteille of St. Emillion merlot (which was amazing!). You can see C. enjoying a glass of our wine in the photo to the left.











We then walked off our lunch by walking around the town some more, stopping at a wine museum where we learned more about St. Emillion wine, and then tested our sniffers (you can see C. smell testing to the left) on different scents that make up wine…like musk, raspberries, mushrooms, currant, vanilla, etc.




Then, we hopped back into the car and drove through the Pyrenees mountains (in a rainstorm!) into Spain.

IMG_2763We parked our car and walked over to our hotel, the Pension Bellas Artes, and were immediately greeted by the owner who gave us a 30 minute long guide of the town, which included all of her favorite restaurants labled on a map. Clearly, this was our kind of place to stay!

So, as soon as we dropped off our bags, we headed into the Old Town to try out some of the tapas bars that the hotel owner recommended. First, we went to a tapas place called La Cuchara (“the spoon”) and had risotto, beef cheeks, and some foie gras that, literally, as soon as I tasted, my knees buckled. 

We then headed over to the place photographed to the left called La Cepa to try out some of their famous Spanish ham (you can see the ham hocks hanging from the ceiling). We spent the rest of the night, tapas hopping! It was great! 

DSC_0574The next morning, we went to a cute bakery down the street from our hotel for some cafe con leche (American style coffee…the first we’ve had in over 6 months since they don’t make American style coffee in France) and for some pastries. We then walked to the beach, but it was cloudy outside, so instead of going on the beach, we took a walk through their downtown. 

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant right on the beach called La Perla where we had an amazing bottle of Spanish white wine and a great meal, and by the time we finished (as you can see in the photo to the left), the weather had cleared up and it was a perfect beach day. 

So we put on our bathing suits and spent the rest of the day and early evening swimming and suntanning! It was just my kind of vacation….good food, and good beaching 🙂



We reluctantly left the beach at around 7 pm, went back to our hotel to shower and relax a bit more, and then headed off to dinner at a steak restaurant called Gandarias that our hotel owner told us that we had to try. We ordered a yummy avacado and squid salad, and then had some great salted pimientos (green spicy peppers) to go along with our massive hunk of steak and bottle of Ribera del Duero wine! When we ordered the steak, the waitress brought over the uncooked meat and then told us how much it weighed (.75 kilos!) before cooking it. The steak was amazing…perfectly cooked! And, I have to admit…we ate all of it! 

While we were chowing down on our steak, the owner of our hotel walked over. Apparently she goes to this same restaurant with her friends every Friday night…so we knew it was great! Even our hotel owner goes here all the time.



IMG_2757So after such a huge meal last night, we definitely needed some exercise. We went for a run as soon as we woke up this morning around the crescent shaped ocean cove. You can see C. posing, mid-run, for a photo (of course we brought our camera with us!). 






IMG_2759We then stopped in town (photo to the left) for some quick bocadillos (small Spanish “sandwiches”) filled with iberico ham and cheese for lunch and then headed back to the beach for the rest of the day. Although the weather today wasn’t as nice as yesterday, we still enjoyed spending time on the soft sand beaches and watching people swim in the harbor. We didn’t swim today because the hotel owner told us yesterday that there were over 100 jelly fish bites reported yesterday…after we had spent most of the day in the ocean! Good thing the jelly fish don’t like us. 







IMG_2768 We’re going back to La Cuchara tonight, as well as a few other tapas bars, for our last night in San Sebastian before we head down to Madrid for a week….that is, if C. can get me to leave this place 🙂


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