Discovering San Sebastián stretching along La Concha

On Thursday, 2nd of May 2019, we visit San Sebastián, called Donostia by the Basques. 


Driving along the coast via Jaizkibel to San Sebastián

From Hondarribia we drive along the coast and cross the mountain Jaizkibel. Our first stop is at the chapel Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Inside there are a black Madonna and boat models; yes, the Basque country needs support for their fishing boats.

From here, we see the Bidasoa’s river mouth with Hondarribia (Spain), Hendaye (France) and the Pyrenées in the background. 

On the Jaizkibel at point 455m, we find these Latxa sheep with their long, thick hair.

I ask myself, how these sheep full of wool handle rain. Do they get all wet? No, Ursula tells me, the Lanolin, or adeps lanae, protects them from the rain.

The Latxa sheep are typical of the Basque Country and give the milk for the cheese called Idiazabal.

From the Jaizkibel, we can see San Sebastián in the haze. The brooms are yellow.

A fire must have burnt these bushes.


San Sebastián – the old town with narrow streets and neoclassial houses

San Sebastián was devastated by a fire in the early 19th century. The old city was then rebuilt along the old street lines, in neoclassical style.

We stop in one of the many tapas bars to eat some pintxos, as tapas are called in the Basque Country.

We stroll through the narrow streets. I wonder, why the windows (and balconies) at the Plaza de la Constitución have numbers. My Dumont tells me, that the Plaza was used for bullfights and the spectators watched them from the numbered balconies (Marion Golder: “Nordspanien und der Jakobsweg”, Dumont Hamburg 2017).

In the baroque Iglesia de Santa Maria from the 18th century we find two statues of San Sebastián (or Done Sebastian, a name that the Basques shortened to Donostia). This is the traditional wooden sculpture…

… and here is the modern version of San Sebastián (he died from arrows).


San Sebastián – the bay La Concha between two hills

We continue to the famous bay called “La Concha”. It IS beautiful. I can understand why people select the sandy beach here to recover and swim. In the background, there is the Monte Igueldo.

Along the Rio Urumea, we find houses from the area of promotorism (late 19th century) and Art Nouveau (after 1900).

Also the ostentatious Puente Maria Christina was built around 1900.

Not far from here, we find the Jardín Bótanico. It is a cosy coffee bar with a lush garden. We wrap off our visit of San Sebastián, with a cup of coffee and a carrot cake.


Driving back to Hondarribia through green mountains

To drive back to Hondarribia, we select a road through the steep and green Basque mountains. The sea is far away, north of us.

Our GPS gets lost, leads us uphill and uphill, until we end up in this dead end street.

We turn back, find the main road again and finish the day in the restaurant Abarka with an excellent rodaballo or turbot and a glass of Txakoli, the wine from the Basque Country.


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