Rebellion in San Sebastian or No room in the Inn

Trip Start Jun 09, 2005
1
22
36
Trip End ??? ??, 2006


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

We had chosen to go to San Sebastian mainly because of an episode of Anthony Bordain´s cooking show where he reccomends it as the best place to eat in Spain. He spends the night trawling tappas bars and having a rollocking good time.

And that´s pretty much how our night went.

Unfortunately for us, we were only going to enjoy one night, as there was not a single room to be had in San Sebastian. We arrived at the tourist office, and aware that it was busy, were prepared to take any old hovel for an exhorbitant price. The incredulous booking agent looked at us and said ´Chu deeed not know eeet is Eeeaster´? Yes, we are stupido, stupido, stupido, but do you have a room? We managed to get a room for one night, but the rest of our stay would be impossible, apparently, so we were determined to make the most of our time, and worry about the consequences and the predictable hangover the next day.

You will see from accompaning photos, that San Sebastian is indeed a pretty bloody good place to eat. We kept wishing that our fellow chilli enthuisiasts were also present to share in our good fortune, but alas, Mick and I just had to eat a bit extra for you all.

Tapas (or Pinxos in Basque) is pretty damn good, but we are actually quite sick of it beleive it or not. It is essentially, just bar snacks, as good as it is, and despite a hell of a lot of searching, you cannot find a sit-down restaurant anywhere in Northern Spain. I have had this gnawing hungry feeling our whole week , and are hanging for an actual sit down, filling meal. A vegetable or peice of fruit wouldn´t go astray either. You also have to stand up and jostle your way through the throngs standing at the bar to get a feed or beer, so it isn´t really that comfortable for long periods of time. There are no bars or resturants overlooking the bay where you can while away an afternoon.

All of a sudden, from pure chance we stumble across the highlight of our 8 days in Spain. A few of you may have received some non-coherent text messages from us at this point - sorry about that!

You may or may not be aware, but San Sebastian is in the heart of Basque seperatist country and the ETA. For a long time, it has been avoided by foreign tourists but things have settled down a fair bit recently, from what I can gather. There are Basque flags up everywhere, political banners, and posters with ´Visitors - you are now in Basque Country - not Spain or France´. WEll, that´s pretty clear. I don´t begin to now the history or the politics behind this, but we were about to find out.

WE stepped into this dingy little bar, and were surrounded by walls of mug-shot posters with ´politico prisoners´written above, and what seemed like jail sentances below. There are murals all over the wall, which even in Spanish, make it pretty clear the nature of this bar (photos attached). The rebellious side of both Mick and I was immediately intrigued, and we stepped up to the bar for a drink. Now before you get worried about us associating with terrorists, we established early on that this bar supported the peace process, and a diplomatic resolution to thier wish for independence.

After a couple of quite drinks, one of the cutest waiters I have ever seen - even Mick admitted to being quite intrigued (photo also attached)asked us ´So, why did you come to Basque Country?´, obviously expecting some sort of meaningful statement about the political situation. Oh shit, this could get ugly! I couldn´t tell him that I had come because it had a beach and a cooking show! How shallow was that going to sound? ´Ummm, I replied lamely - we are just travelling, really and experiencing Spain´. Dohhh. Now I´d really put my foot in it - had I not seen the numerous posters around town? We were not in Spain! WEll, he actually took that surprisingly well and proceeded to give us a friendly introduction to Basque politics and history and since there was no one else in the bar he started pulling out samples of all sorts and weird and wonderful Spanish drinks that I had never heard of - if you ever come across a bottle of Pataxaran - grab it - although if you come round to our place, we purchased two bottles of the stuff and are happy to share - maybe.

We spent an amazing afternoon chatting (although after a while, I was mostly just staring into his big blue eyes and not really taking in much of what he was saying). My hopes for the evening were dashed though, when he was flicking through a book showing some of his artwork and he showed us a drawing of ´one of his girlfriends´. Damn! We eventually stumbled home via the beach and a few more Pinxos bars. Xavos our barman had refused any money for our 6-7 hours in his bar. Very, very, very drunk and exhausted but had a wonderful experience that we will probably remember for the rest of our lives and will be boring the grandkiddies with.

Trudging down the promenade the next day back to the bus station, the town had suddenly turned into Sandgate. We seemed to be the youngest people for miles and definately the only people who weren't wearing matching tracky dackies with accompaning walking stick or wheelchair. Did I dream last night? I looked down and realised I still had my Basque separatist badge on that I had been given at some point last night - nope, it did happen!
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Comments

prenzler
prenzler on

Love the photo's
Hey Mick and Lisa, Thanks for posting the photo's, they're FAB! Keep it up.

Scott.

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