Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Rocks of San Sebastian

Travel photography begs us to capture the obvious defining factors of the location, but other times inspiration blossoms in the lesser appreciated landmarks as well. In San Sebastian, the former is most notably the trio of Eduardo Chillida Sculptures while the latter (for me) was the rocks.
Rocks. Really? Well, in Madrid it was the intense graffiti covered facades, in Barcelona the Gaudi architecture - specifically the roof tops, and in San Sebastian, while I took lots of photos overall, the rocks in La Concha Bay and River Urumea stood out in abundance.
The aforementioned sculptures notorious with San Sebastian are called El Peine del Vinto or The Wind Comb.
These contemporary works of art are proudly displayed amidst a rough sea, their natural weathered character blends seamlessly while their dramatic shape is in stark contrast to the landscape. If you ever visit this city, you'll likely want to make the short walk to the end of Paseo de la Concha to check these out! The view and sites along the way are pretty cool, as are the rest of the rocks that surround the coastal shores and stone pathways. A side note to my readers who are not bloggers or who don't use the Google Blogger platform - (otherwise I'm probably stating the obvious) - Did you know you can click on any photograph for a slideshow? Since I tend to incorporate massive amount of photos in one post, if you wanted to be able to scroll in a more orderly fashion, or see the pictures in a larger format, just click on one. :)There's a lot more to love about San Sebastian than its beaches and rugged coastline, particularly the beloved Pintxos, the enticing tapas cuisine of the Basque region. A mouthwatering food post is in the works....

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Shores of San Sebastian

After a brief respite from Spain travel posts, I'd like to introduce you to the third and final destination city on our trip taken this past September. Welcome to San Sebastian! I decided to begin with a dedication to the golden sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters in all their glory. San Sebastian is quite literally type of place that makes you believe in dreams. I would return in a heartbeat if it didn't mean sacrificing time, money, or a desire to see the rest of the world. Upon arriving from a most breathtaking journey through the fog capped Pyrenees to a tiny three platform train station and and hailing a Mercedes taxi cab, I knew San Sebastian was going to be a different experience entirely.Also known as Donostia, this stylish coastal city nestled in the splendid Basque Country provided a welcome respite from the tourist centric squares of Madrid and sellers paradise beaches of Barcelona. The air was significantly more clean and crisp. Sea breezes wafted above majestic bridges and through cozy pristine kept parks flanked by blue iron benches.San Sebastian offers three main beaches which exude a charm and culture all their own.
The centrally located crescent shaped Playa la Concha draws the majority of crowds, (on a typically warmer day than pictured) embodying an essence much like the city itself of French sophistication meets Spanish flair.
Overlooked by fancy residences and chic business alike, bordered by elegant iron fences and lavish globe street lights, intermingled with laid back beach bars and nighttime hot spots, Playa La Concha is just as perfect in reality as it is in a postcard. To the far west lies the family and activity oriented Playa Ondaretta, split from La Concha by El Pico del Loro - a rocky outcropping. The typically younger crowd oriented shores where the surfers play is Playa Zurriola, situated to the east of the city center in the laid back Gros District. This is where our hotel was, and we couldn't have been happier with the location. The fine grained sand is soft and inviting and the warm waters of La Concha Bay and the Bay of Biscay are exciting. White caps rush to shore, in their wide arched wake they leave treasure troves of stones, shells, and most impressive pieces of sea glass. The epic proportioned waves do indeed make San Sebastian a surfers paradise, it is not uncommon to see a wet suit adorned surfer making his or her way through the narrow winding streets of Old Quarter or Gros, surf board in hand.As you can see, the conditions were far from ideal beach weather. Of our four days in town, it rained (on and off) for three of them. Our initial disappointments quickly dissolved, in a place this beautiful you take every moment as a blessing, rain or shine. We huddled under an umbrella when necessary, otherwise relinquishing cover to frolic in the drizzle and fog for all it was worth. We were thankful for having previously embraced two full beach days in Barcelona and appreciated that prior weeks traveling blessed us with nothing but intense sunshine. (In fact, of all our European beach destinations over the years, this was the first drop of rain we have seen.) Once the stormy skies lifted for good on our last day, we basked in the Basque Country sun on Zurriola Beach from 11am - 5pm, beers in hand, walking the shores, swimming the surf and definitely wishing this vacation didn't come with a return flight.

Lots more on our days and nights San Sebastian coming soon!