San Sebastian - Statues of Jesus and Arzak

Trip Start Oct 10, 2011
Trip End Nov 11, 2011

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Flag of Spain  , Basque,
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spain's rather perplexing train system meant that it took us a whole day to get to our next destination, San Sebastian in Basque Country (on the Spanish-French border). We had to backtrack to Barcelona to catch a 5.5 hour "high speed" train to San Sebastian. There are only two services between Barcelona and San Sebastian. The first train from Barcelona to San Sebastian left 4 minutes before the first train from Girona arrived in Barcelona, so we were forced to catch one leaving at 3:30, using up a whole day. (This was poor planning on our part though: with hindsight, we would have stayed on in Barcelona with daytrips to Girona, Olot and Besalu.) Of course, it did give us one last opportunity to try one of the restaurants in MoVida's guide to food in Barcelona!

San Sebastian was well worth the long journey. It is a peaceful and beautiful place and Ash and I quickly agreed we would both love to live here. Not only is it nestled between the coast on the north and mountains on the other sides (making it a very scenic city indeed), it is also crazy about food, with secret (men's) eating societies, michelin-starred restaurants galore and hundreds of high quality pintxo bars.

On our first day there, we went straight up one of the small mountains which has a giant statue of Jesus on top of a small castle, and which gives breathtaking panoramic views of the city. We also went for a walk along the beach - while the beach was not as high quality as the best in Sydney, it was still miles better than most European beaches, with real sand!

We had also booked in a visit to Restaurant Arzak well in advance. Once again, we ordered the degustation for two, with a red wine recommendation (tempranillo). Elena, one of the two main chefs (her father is the other) came out to chat to us, and she told us about when she went to Australia for the Melbourne food festival and ate at Tetsuya, Marque, Quay and Golden Century! Apparently Tetsuya is an old friend. Anyway, the atmosphere at Arzak is completely different to Ramon Freixa in Madrid (I found the service there to be rather stuffy) but the food was just as or even more delicious!
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Diana on

It does look like a wonderful place to live. What is a pintxo bar?

sophiatravels on

Basically a tapas bar. Pintxos are always small though, while a tapas bar can serve main-sized meals (raciones).

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