Spain Day 6 - Vamos a San Sebastian!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
77Trip End Sep 01, 2008
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Started out with our normal routine: cereal for the hijos, coffee from across the street for Janice, bath and tea for me. And then down to the library for some computer time. And then, we headed out to make our way to San Sebastian with a pitstop planned in Laredo to explore the birth city of our Spanish host, Lali ..
Torrelavega was another 'menu del dia' for lunch, this time for 12 euros per person. Again, we got two, shared with the hijos, and had more than enough. I ended up with a nice garbonzo bean, beef tongue and intestine stew (tastes exactly as bad as you'd imagine), and then we had something like a pot roast (one plate beef, the other pork). Dessert was more arroz con leche. (for the kids, of course.) Then, on to Laredo. A gorgeous beach awaited us. Like the last beach this one also had a very long shallow entry which made it ideal for the kids. After some swimming, ... we jumped in the car and on to San Sebastian.
One of the neat things about the home exchange websites is that it puts you in contact with some really neat people. One couple that we had discussed the possibility of exchange with lives in San Sebastian. Even though an exchange didn't work out between us (they ended up with a great offer from some people who live in San Francisco), they invited us to stay with them for a weekend ... and here we are taking them up on the offer! (http://www.homeexchange.com/show.php?id=88481)
Having never met Inigo and Jaione, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous meeting them
As we drove in to town, we phoned them and after a turn or two, spotted them smiling and waiving to us in the town center. The nicest, most generous couple we could have hoped for and then some. (They even had wrapped presents for each of the kids!) With traffic all around us and no parking in sight, Inigo quickly jumped in the car and Janice jumped out. Just like that, it was me and Inigo driving down the busy street, him guiding me to their parking garage. We hadn't even exchanged hellos at this point! Bonus for me, they both speak English excellently. Inigo and Jaione live in a two bedroom apartment right in the town center. Inigo's grandma lives a block away and has one of the only private parking garage's in the whole city. She doesn't drive, so Inigo gets one spot ... and one extra for our car! Sweet!We park, unload, and head out on a walking tour of San Sebastian before the rain comes. Apparently, this city's reputation is similar to Seattle's ... and its forecasted to rain both days we are here, Saturday and Sunday.
Its 1am as I type this, so I'm not going to go in to all the details about how amazing this city is
Our walk takes us to the city's two most central tourist stops: the cathedral and a church supposedly EXACTLY one kilometer away. But the true destination of our walking tour is a fabulous restaurant for the Spanish tradition of Pinchos. (not the Mexican curse word). The food, in two words = Oh my. This small corner bar serves cider and Pinchos freshly made to order. Half the Pinchos you could just self serve style put them on your plate and eat, the other half were displayed raw and you point out what you want for the chef to cook up for you. The cider was very good. Sharply acidic, and only mild alcohol content ... all four of us enjoyed a glass. Some of our Pinchos - a pastry with various cheeses (no photo), a sea enenime with fish eggs and such inside, pastry with lobster and asparagus, skewered beef, shrimp stuffs, ham and cheese sandwich sort of things. Just AMAZING food. As a gesture of kindness, I offered to pay. I was nervous about the bill. Inigo had said this wasn't going to be cheap. But for all six of us to eat, plus four ciders and two juices for the hijos it was only 24 euros. Not bad at all. I couldn't stop smiling and expressing my pure excitement and pleasure
Back we walked to their home, got the kids some of the best ice cream I've ever tasted, and then sat down to a treat of a home cooked Basque meal. Samuel tried it. Not his favorite, but he successfully downed the requisite one bite, albeit it was a bit like Fear Factor for him. And I'll be honest here. When I looked at the black stuff cookin', it didn't look so great. But when served up with some home cooked garlic infused rice and garden fresh tomatoes, ... Wowza!Janice and I cleaned our plates. Thank you Jaione for an amazing and unique experience that we will never in all our lives forget!
Finally, the kids are sleeping after a long day ... and I'm heading that way now. Tomorrow will be a challenge since we are guests here and its raining all day. One huge thing to look forward to though is Inigo's gracious invitation to join him at the traditional Basque private eating club he is a member of. We have lunch reservations tomorrow. Can't wait!
*** PS - side note .. I was finally able to upload the video we made of our home in Pie de Concha. Its under the Spain Day 5 entry now, titled The GRAND TOUR! If you haven't seen the video yet, go check it out!