San Sebastian, Spain with the Girls!

Gosh, I am so behind on blogging. My next post will be a short and sweet restaurant review, but this San Sebastian post took AGES to get live because there were SO MANY PHOTOS to go through! I really need to stick to just 5-10 photos per post, because picking my favorites and editing through everything can be overwhelming! That said, I am happy to finally tell you all about my trip to San Sebastian with Amie, Jess, and Jess (yes, TWO Jess’s on our trip – double the Jess fun!)
IMG_0753As the girls were already planning on coming to Amsterdam at the end of April for King’s Day, we decided to tack a mini sun-holiday on to the end of their European visit. We picked a spot in Northern Spain that had ample sunshine, but during our stay the temperature hovered in the mid 60’s, which was wonderful for strolling around sans coat, but it didn’t really satisfy our desire for a beachy holiday (although there were many brave souls in minimal clothing lounging by the sea!) That said, we were more interested in pintxos, sangria, and sightseeing anyways, and fell blissfully in love with our flat that overlooked the sea! And I mean, LOOK at that view (above) from our balcony!what we didWe flew from Amsterdam to Bilbao as the flights were astronomically cheaper to Bilbao as opposed to flying straight to San Sebastian. Bilbao is only an hour’s drive from San Sebastian and we caught a direct bus that got us to San Sebastian quite promptly. We had planned on spending some time in Bilbao, but we arrived quite late on Wednesday evening, and so on the first night we really only saw our hotel! The next day we walked around Bilbao a bit, but overall the city felt quite lackluster and we were eager to get on our way to San Sebastian. I do not think I would visit Bilbao again, although I do regret missing out on visiting the Guggenheim (they’re closed on Thursdays).
IMG_5196IMG_5199IMG_5184Maybe I would have liked Bilbao more in the sunshine?! That said, when we arrived in San Sebastian a few hours later, the sun was up in full force and we immediately fell in love with the city! There are a few spots I would definitely recommend checking out in San Sebastian:

La Perla – Spa with pools overlooking the beach, great for a rainy (or sunny!) day. Around €30 for 3 hours.

Mount Igueldo – Highest of San Sebastian’s three coastal mounts. Offers the most splendid panoramic views of the city. It’s an easy stroll up but you can also take the funicular.

Mount Igueldo Amusement Park – Quaint and charming amusement park sitting atop Mount Igueldo. We paid €2 to check out the birds of prey exhibit, and were able to get up close and personal with my all time favorite, an owl!

La Concha – San Sebastián’s beaches are stunning. The seas are a bright blue that fade into turquoise shallows. Sandy shorelines bend upward into rich green hills that stand stoically on both sides of the bay. La Concha is San Sebastian’s most popular bay, wonderful for swimming, picnics, stand up paddle boarding, and strolling at night!IMG_5219Where we stayedI hate to say this as I work at, but we stayed at the most gorgeous Airbnb in San Sebastián. In San Sebastián there are main bays. Playa la Zurriola is popular for surfing and the younger crowd, while La Concha is popular amongst families and tourists alike. We stayed smack in the middle of La Concha, on the top floor of a seaside apartment building. Our balcony had the best views, and the interior was simple and beautiful.

IMG_5237IMG_5232IMG_5230Where we ateIf you’re looking for an ‘eating’ holiday, San Sebastian is the place to go! Not only is San Sebastian world-famous for their pintxos (more on these delectable bites later), they also have more Michelin star restaurants per square meter than any other city in the world! Simply put, San Sebastian gets food. We ate at many mouth water spots while in Basque country. Here are a few of my favorites:

La Cuchara de San Telmo – One of the best spots for pintxos in Donostia.

Narru Restaurante – Simple interior, delicious food. Slightly more fancy than some of the pintxos bars but food is fairly priced and delicious!

Ganbara – Famous pintxos bar, known for their mushrooms.

A Fuego Negro – In the old town. Mackerel pintxos are the best! Great atmosphere, wine, and snacks.

Juanito Kojua – Traditional Basque cuisine. Emphasis is on the quality of the produce, which is seasonal and fresh. Try the lobster salad or pears poached in wine.

Kokotxa – A Michelin Star restaurant, lunch is from 1.30-3.30pm and dinner is 8.45-11pm. Need a reservation in advance. Check out the lunch menu if you want a slightly less expensive Michelin experience.’

IMG_5289IMG_5290These photos are from our dinner at Narru. We all got the three course menu and of course a bottle of wine :) The food was fresh and the ambiance was minimal yet welcoming.IMG_5281IMG_5288v How cute is this *healthy* pink dessert?!IMG_5294 IMG_0753 IMG_5298IMG_5313The water hues in San Sebastian are unbelievable. IMG_5307IMG_5333IMG_5316IMG_5323IMG_5346^ Riding the funicular up to Mount Igueldo!IMG_5338IMG_5370IMG_5377IMG_5359IMG_5364The views from Mount Igueldo are breathtaking. IMG_5373Coffee and treats with a side of landscape eye candy!
IMG_5385v Glamour shots at the top :)

IMG_5391IMG_5430IMG_5402We went to a birds of prey exhibit at the top of Mount Igueldo. It was quite sad to see the birds chained up, trying to fly away every few minutes, forgetting that they were tied to the ground. BUT it was the first time I ever got to pet a real owl, which was quite memorable and one of my favorite parts of the trip!IMG_5423IMG_5411IMG_5408IMG_5417AliOwl^ New friends?! He is not so sure.
IMG_1310IMG_5433IMG_5439IMG_5485IMG_5488IMG_5453IMG_5451Last Meal^Pintxos (or in English thorn or small spike) are small bar bites, typically speared with a skewer or toothpick, as the name would imply! Pintxos are highly social snacks, easily enjoyed while standing up mingling in a bar. The flavors tend to be quite similar to Spanish tapas, the only difference is the toothpick! 
IMG_5496IMG_5530IMG_1270Pinxtos^ A very sparse pintxos bar, late at night. Typically pintxos would line the entire countertop, but as we arrived just before closing, the selection left was highly limited and not very pretty!BebidasBebidas 3 IMG_5512 IMG_5523IMG_5507 Bye Spain! Cow Restaurant 2^ Dinner on our last night at Juanito Kojua. At this point, we’d had so many pintxos, we all opted for salads! We loved the interior which resembled a brown speckled cow!
SaladSan Sebastian BreakfastBye SpainIf you’re looking for a sunshine holiday in Europe with endless delicious food options, beaches, sunshine, and sangria, San Sebastian is the spot for you! I love exploring Spain and am looking forward to another Spanish adventure soon!

x Ali

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