San Sebastián, Spain : a city of surprises

we arrived in San Sebastián, Spain after a cold, wet and trying morning in Lourdes, France with no assumptions.  as we entered the city we drove through a grimy grey port and an average looking city with not a soul in sight.  after 25 minutes of trying to park, we walked to a bar to decide what to do.  realizing that we had arrived during siesta (duh no people!) and in the business district, we corrected our path and  meandered towards the beach and Parte Vieja – the oldest area of the city.  looking around we started to see beautiful architecture with tiny alleys and massive cathedrals squeezed between buildings and jutting cliffs…

we continued to wander, making our way to an emerald green bay teaming with fish

we continue to walk, our eyes getting wider by the second, and decide to stop into a bar for the standard 8pm  traditional tapas and beers.  after a hilarious hour and a half of confused conversations and choppy at best spanish, we leave the packed bar to again wander the streets and plazas now seething with people.  as we walk towards the bay we start to notice the opals, golds, pinks and purples in the sky…

as dusk fell we started to again wander, popping in and out of bars, peering into shops, watching street performers do silly acts, and men and women lining the piers to fish..

at 11pm the sky turned cobalt blue.  we made our way down the harbor to an outdoor restaurant where we split some super fresh seafood and some fantastic sangria..  we also made a few new friends..  our new cohorts told us about the Jazz Festival that was going on at the beach on the other side of Old Town and with much laughing and wrong turns we all made our way there..

literally a MASSIVE party on the beach, the Jazzaldia has been running annually since 1966 with headliners like Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Charles Mingus.  in 2010 there is still jazz in the mix, but with acts like Patty Smith and Elvis Costello the gigantic 5 day festival now encompasses many different genres of music.  we got there in time to catch The Morning Benders and have the epiphany that in fact at that exact moment, we were at a beach party, surrounded by thousands of people, in Spain.  yes.  we were starting to fall in love with San Sebastián.

ok.  so i know what youre thinking.  come one girl.  now it’s got to be about 2am, this city must be shutting down at some point soon.  actually……..

after the show was over we found a nice tavern very much in the Spanish style, where we sampled some more sangria..  the bar tender, once the bar was about to close and we were the last people there, suggested that we leave with the last pitcher of sangria on the house.  seriously?!  bars in the states could take some notes! (uugh thats right, unlike San Sebastián, drinking on the streets is illegal in the grand ole US of A) so with pint sized to go cups of sticky red nectar, we again went to the streets, being blown away by the sheer beauty of the city..

i loved this neon deco ship building in the middle of Old Town, it was so strange and out of place..

a drunken panorama and the suggestion of a dance club on the beach that opens at three and starts bumping around 4am.  oh yeah?  ok!

after the dancing the most obvious end of the night was to run around on the beach; warm, lightly salty waves lapping at our legs.  we watched a few rowdy boys strip to their skivvies and throw themselves into the black bay.  and at that moment, under a full moon, vowed that the first moment we were able we would be back to do the whole thing over again..

Street Fashion: San Sebastián, Spain