Trip Start Aug 20, 2009
24Trip End Sep 14, 2009
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Where I stayed
Around 4 AM, one of the Irish guys returned to the room but I didn’t see his friend Duncan. I figured he must be having a really good time tonight, and I went back to sleep. He finally rolled in around 7, but I later found out that he had passed out in the bathroom at 4 AM, and finally regained enough senses to climb into bed 3 hours later.
Crappy eggs this morning - I had some trouble maintaining the pan temperature on the stove, so they kept sticking, and I wound up with a pile of mushhttp://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/6/1215826800/tpod.html )
I wanted to head out early this morning for a walk, but was locked out of my safe. I didn’t want to disturb David so early in the morning, especially after last night, so I just hung around for a bit until he was awake. Off to "Cuchara de San Telmo" in the old town for an early lunch. Unfortunately, I was told that on the terrace, it wasn’t possible to order pintxos, only the larger raciones. D’oh! Despite being on a back alley, I still preferred sitting outside on the terrace, because it was a pleasant day. The waitress was also quite cute, and ordering pintxos at the bar would mean that she wouldn’t be serving me; yet another reason to sit on the terrace. I was hoping to sample a few different things here, but was content just to stick to the foie gras with apple compote, which was the main reason I came here. The raciones are too big to have more than one of them.
Cuchara de San Telmo is actually run by two former employees of Ferran Adria (for more info on him, see blog entry entitled "We felt like judges onthe 'Iron Chef'!!!" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/pwong/euro-2007/1188526740/tpod.html ), so I was really looking forward to sample what they came up with. This pintxos bar is a bit unusual in that all the food is freshly made to order, instead of sitting out on the counter, ready to eat. The foie gras was served, its heavenly scent announcing its arrival well before it even made it to the table. It`s a little bit pricey here, but I really wanted to try this place.
I caught up a bit on my journal, and was interrupted by what sounded like a parade – there’s always something going on in San Sebastian. I had planned on doing a daytrip today to Hondarribia or Lekeito, but decided against it – next time! I wish I had a bit more time here in San Sebastian, just to wander around a little bit – I probably won`t even have time this go around to even walk over to the Gros district and the surf beach.
Back to the hostel to get ready for the beach – I was supposed to head out there with a couple of Italian guys
The Italian guys weren’t back yet, but Elena was there visiting with Alex and David, so we had a bit of a chat while I waited. It’s interesting how sometimes two people who are essentially strangers can have a fairly deep conversation, just based on the context in which they met. Elena seemed a bit quiet, so I asked how she was and mentioned that she had a bit of a distant look in her gaze. Without going into too much detail, she mentioned that she’s had a lot on her mind recently, and the events of the past few days stirred up some old memories. Even without knowing her all that well, having seen such a personal side of everybody last night, I couldn’t help but empathize with her situation, as if I knew her better than I did. It’s definitely been an interesting few days here in San Sebastian.
The Italian guys finally came back and we headed off to the beach, grabbing Nick (an Aussie – surprise, surprise ...) along the way. It was a pretty hot day on the beach, and a nice opportunity to nap
Nick and I ended up having an interesting chat (there have been many of these the past 24 hours!) about the meaning of travel. When people speak of the subject, contrived sayings such as “trying to find myself” or “trying to find some meaning” are frequently used. Without a doubt, things like that can sound lame – but not to a traveler that has experienced, and understands it. If you actually have found yourself, or found a greater meaning during your travels, these trite words have profound significance. For some, it’s merely about acquiring more stamps in the passport and traveling for the sake of traveling, something which I do at times. But generally, my travels are about finding a piece of myself that I’ve misplaced, or a piece that I never even knew existed. It’s about growing, it’s about changing, and it’s about learning.
After a couple of hours of baking in the sun, I left the others behind and returned to the hostel, not feeling so well and wondering if I got a little too much sun
After the nap, I wasn't really in any shape for a tapas crawl, but damn it, it still was going to happen! I came to San Sebastian for that very reason, so I was going stuff my face with tapas, even if I had to crawl to a hospital afterward. The whole hostel smelled divine, as the Italian guys made spaghetti amatriciana - I've seen it on menus probably dozens of times before, but never tried it because it didn't sound all that appealing. But after seeing what those guys did with it, I will definitely be ordering it the next time I see it at a restaurant. They actually offered me a taste, but still feeling crappy, I declined, though I wanted nothing more than to sample that beautiful pasta.
Due to some miscommunication with the Italian guys, it ended up just being Nick, Danny, and myself for tapas tonight. It was a little disappointing, as the tapas Pervez, Rob, and I had last year seemed much tastier. It wasn't until we hit the final restaurant of the night that we actually had some excellent Basque pintxos. The night ended way earlier for me than it should have, but I felt like absolute garbage.
Earlier on the beach, Nick had mentioned that there was a special commemoration in San Sebastian tomorrow, on calle 31 de agosto. In 1813, a fire resulting from a battle between combined English/Portuguese forces and the French, burned almost all of San Sebastian to the ground, except for this street
I spoke to David to see if there were rooms available - there were. I enquired as to the nature of the celebration - he told me that there's an energy on that street all day long, and it builds to an incredible level until the evening. The actual commemoration is a candle light vigil, and David mentioned that the rest of the city is business as usual. If I stayed another day, I'd have to cut out Zaragoza, which I'm not terribly excited about anyway, as it sounds like there is little there other than the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar.
The problem is that it's a long bus from San Sebastian to Barcelona, and Zaragoza would break up the journey nicely. If I stayed an extra night, I'd spend most of the following day getting to Barcelona. I could stay for the candle light vigil and catch a night bus to Barcelona, but the bus schedule wouldn't allow me to stay very long for the vigil, and I'd probably end up having a horrible night's sleep on the bus, something which definitely would NOT help me feel any better. So ...
The decision was made .. push on to Zaragoza as originally planned. I had a terrible sleep, and was feeling iller and iller ... but as crappy as I felt, I was happy. This trip was all about finding my lost mojo and without even realizing exactly how it happened, my mojo was recaptured in San Sebastian :)