Tapas tapas tapas!

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Basque,
Friday, October 14, 2011

What a gem! We headed just across the border in to Spain to check out a city that eluded us the last time we were exploring Spain.  It is a very busy place and for good reason.  It is stunning. 

Considering where it is situated, San Sebastian (or Donostia as some locals prefer) has had more than its fair share of conflict.  There has been a struggle for control between the Spanish and French for centuries, and it got so bad that in the days of Napoleon the old town was reduced to ashes.  Again, after WWII, poverty, strife and civil unrest engulfed the city.  It wasn't until the 1990s that the city emerged from its difficult past with a brand new facelift and focus on tourism.  It has been one of the most visited tourist destinations on the continent since… and for good reason.

We surfaced from the parking garage into one of the main squares of the old town (we thought).  We immediately headed for the beaches that we had always heard so much about.  Although light on sunbathers, the beach was just perfect.  San Sebastian has two scythe shaped beaches to give great views to both people watch and stare off to sea with islands and green cliffs within view.  From the points of either end, the city backdrop leaves little to be desired.  We walked from end to end and back and it was a wonderful hour basking in the sun ankle deep in the clear blue water.

After this lovely walk, we felt like revisiting this tapas thing we had enjoyed on our previous visit to Spain.  We headed into the streets of the old town (we thought) and hit up the Tourist Office to get a map and tapas recommendations.  They suggested we visit the old town (which we thought we were in).  We WERE in an older part of town, but the old old town is nestled in between the two main beaches here.  To our pleasant surprise, the narrow streets were bustling with both locals and tourists searching out a little sustenance.  We were blown away by the amount of Tavernas that had their doors open waiting for those in need of their tapas fix.  We headed into one that looked interesting and were quickly salivating after a glance at the offerings.  The bar was covered with a plethora of two-bite sized goodies of all flavours (see pictures).  They basically give you a plate and you pick and choose what you want as you want it and they charge you when you are finished somewhere between 1.50 and 2 euros each.  It was hard to choose but don’t feel too bad for us, we managed to get by with little stress.

With our tapas experience behind us (so we thought), we walked it off by strolling the streets of the old town as we peeked in each bakery we came across.  We also walked around the boardwalk that separates the two beaches to check out the views and the marina.  Everywhere you looked there were postcard material views.

In the late afternoon we felt that we needed a break and headed to a Taverna for a beer.  Upon ordering, the bartender offered us two plates as by chance their bar was covered with tapas offerings as well (see picture).  We didn’t want to be rude so we took the plates and indulged once again.  There were so many different bite-size flavours to try, it would take weeks of dedicated eating to sample all that the town had to offer.

We headed back to Biarritz for the evening and ventured out to a restaurant (yes more eating, but not until about 9pm so it was okay… right?) that Meg saw was recommended in our travel book.  Le Bistrot Des Halles is a very small place with a very comforting setting.  It had a lot of old movie posters and classic cigarette ads covering the walls.  We met a very nice couple from England/Belgium that were on their way to purchase some property in the Algarve (Portuguese coast).  The food was wonderful, Meg had a lovely baby calamari dish and I had seared scallops on a bed of roquette and potatoes (that looked and tasted like 'hickory sticks’).  Both of our dinners were picked up from the neighbouring market that day and man, were they tasty.

That was certainly a solid day of eating and eating well.  We passed out from food coma leaving the packing for Pau until the morning.
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