Oh Canada

Trip Start Aug 14, 2010
Trip End Sep 12, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Basque,
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Breakfast ... bacon and eggs ... such a simple thing that us North Americans take for granted.  European breakfasts are generally simple affairs - though they may include cereal, cheese, cold cuts, fruit, and toast in Germany, Holland, and Eastern European countries, in Spain and most other Western European nations, it usually involves just a coffee with a croissant or some toast.  That's what I would have opted for today but Tri wanted something heartier, like bacon and eggs.  Believe me, finding something like that in Spain is NOT the easiest of tasks, as Ben, Ha, and I once found out in the Canary Islands.  Fortunately for us, there was a cheap little cafeteria-type restaurant in San Sebastian that serves pasta and simple combination plates, including the aforementioned bacon and eggs.   

The plan for today - a whole lotta nothing!  Today is a huge festival in town, involving a rowing race out to the little Isla de Santa Clara, that is the culmination of Basque week.  Early this morning, the streets of San Sebastian were filling up with both casual observers, and also supporters of each of the seven or eight teams that were competing.  By noon, the old town was starting to resemble a massive nightclub, with bars packed and dance music blaring, and the streets bustling with drunk revelers.  The buzz and energy associated with crowds of people wandering the streets is often the best part about Spain but today, it was simply way too much.  Broken glass all over the place, people getting angry and confrontational, men (and sometimes women) pissing in the streets ... it definitely defiled the wonderful image I have of this beautiful town. 

Playa de la Concha was sure to be packed today, since that was where the racing was taking place, so a number of us went to Playa Zurriola instead to roast ourselves in the Spanish sun.  It was nice to get out of the old town and not have to elbow our way through the streets - beach time was the perfect respite from the insanity in San Sebastian today. 

Today, our dorm room became a little bit of Canada, right here in Spain - the first two nights here, beyond Tri and myself, there was Robin, a girl from Winnipeg, and two Americans.  The two Americans had left, and the three of us were joined by another girl from Toronto, Julia.  She had actually been staying in a double room with her friend who had left this morning - Julia was supposed to have left at the same time, but she had made a mistake with her flight back to London and was stuck here for one more night.  Not a bad mistake to make, I think!

Funny, yet not so funny moment in the dorm - it was stuffy in the room, so we opened up the windows but unfortunately, the scent of countless litres of piss that were spilled in the streets earlier today wafted up into our room.  Julia was especially sensitive to this, and was quite disgusted with the malodorous situation.  But then, she complained that the smell had suddenly worsened terribly - like a pack of dogs, our ears perked up as we took in deep breaths of air through our noses ... it smelled ... delicious!  We all laughed because it was actually the scent of a restaurant cooking up a storm - the perfect cue to go find dinner.

Ernesto, the owner of the hostel, had told us about this incredible T-bone steak he had eaten last night - for 40 Euros, him and three friends had eaten this giant steak, along with a tomato salad.  Ernesto is Argentinean, so he knows his grilled meat - we were off in search of Nestor, the restaurant where this legendary steak could be found.  Sadly, it was not meant to be on this evening, as it was closed.  Julia had mentioned having some incredible pintxos the night before in Gros, so we were off there instead - truth be told, it was great to get out of the old town because even though it had cleared out significantly, the drunken debauchery was still in force, the streets strewn with trash, and puddles of piss were everywhere.  Not the most appetizing of locations, on this evening.

Tri had a 6:30 train to Paris to catch in the morning, Julia was recovering from a night of partying until 5 AM, and Robin was looking for a quiet evening, so we all grabbed some gelato before the three of them headed back to the hostel.  Tonight was my last night in San Sebastian, so I wasn't prepared to go back so soon - I took my gelato over to Playa de la Concha and stood along the boardwalk, admiring the beautiful beach and sea below ... as crazy as Spain can get, sometimes it's the simple pleasures that make it so wonderful.
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