Spain Day 6 - Vamos a San Sebastian!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
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Trip End Sep 01, 2008


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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Friday, July 4, 2008

Be honest. While reading this blog have any of you thought to yourself, "Wow ... Asher sure is taking a lot of photos... He should put that camera away and relax!". Well, I can tell you that I have thought it several times. And for the last three days, I've said to myself, "Today is the day. A photo or two. And nada mas." But then, the days become so amazing, I mean AMAZING, and I don't trust my memory ... and before I know it, I have my camera out to take some pictures to remember a moment, and another moment comes upon me, and ... here I am with tons of pictures again. But jeez. Today was just so out of this world crazy cool, I couldn't help it.
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 ... but first, lunch in Torrelavega.

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. Would we enjoy one another's company well enough to have fun for three days together? How weird will it be staying in a total stranger's house? Will the kids be welcome? ...

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. Google it or something. Just know that for centuries it was THE tourist spot for European Royalty and today remains a fantastic, fun, perfectly small city on the ocean with one of the best beaches in all of Europe.

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. Enjoying the evening with my family, new friends, and outrageously good food ... it was just too much. Goose bumps, hair standing on end, ... I was getting emotional. And this was just the warm up ... Jaione informed us she had a special dinner she had worked on for us with her mother earlier in the week. A Basque specialty ... squid cooked in its own black ink! How cool is that?!

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!
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

tonja_f
tonja_f on

Mental note...
... MUST see San Sebastian. Question... how willing would these kind folks be to let your friend stay with them while visiting? :)

lyss77
lyss77 on

Love the pics
I am hoping you are finding a medium in taking pics and relaxing? The pics really help the blog come to life. Can I get a description of what this squid tasted like? Let me guess? Chicken? Ha Ha

carrillo916
carrillo916 on

hi u guys!!!
This is so awesome..What a great experience! Glad your hosts didnt turn out to be axe murderers.. LOL..
We were just watching Bizzare foods and dude was in spain. he ate some of that black squid stuff too.. I was thinking bout you 2 while watching it saying and laughing to myself 'I bet the Stryskys would love that'
lol.. im so pyschic.

=^]

-- felicia

nicoleisjealous
nicoleisjealous on

coffee goodness
Seriously. You guys have it made. Just the fact that you can walk right across the street to some amazing little cafe for your morning coffee would completely make the trip for me. It is the little things like that, that bring so much joy.

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