I was still riding on a happiness high when I left Bordeaux. I caught a ride with Blablacar and was forced to quickly switch my brain back to Spanish because the driver and her friends were from San Sebastián. I was really surprised that the border between France and Spain was almost unnoticeable! There was a small sign, but even the borders between states are more decorated than the border for the whole country! It was kind of nice, actually, because you can tell that the level of trust between countries in the Schengen area is high.
San Sebastián is without doubt a beautiful city. The city itself has 3 beautiful beaches with clear water and is popular with surfers. It is also known for its food, mostly it’s pinxtos, and has something like more Michelin stars per square foot than any other city in the world. I spent basically two full days there and stayed with another host through couchsurfing.
The city is basically in a U shape with two small mountains on either side and 2/3 of the beaches in the middle. So the first morning I climbed around one of the mountains, which used to be a fort area to defend the city if I remember correctly. The views were pretty stunning. Okay, absolutely stunning. The best thing for me about San Sebastián were definitely the views of the city and the sea. After, I wandered around the old town area, the center of the city, and then at night went to get pinxtos with my host. She also took me to meet her mom (who is pretty old considering my host was in her late 30s). Nevertheless, her mom is full of energy and we went to see her singing in the street with her Basque singing group because it was some festival to some saint.
The next day, I went on a walk with my hosts mother towards the other mountain, than continued on to the top where there is an old amusement park and more great views. Basically just the views since literally everything in the “amusement park” is closed. I puttered around a little more than spent a few hours on the pretty but very crowded beach. That night my host and I went out pinxto hopping again and I left early the following morning. San Sebastián was beautiful, but so many people supposedly fall in love with it, and I thought it was just okay. It also probably made a difference that, while my host was very nice, there wasn’t that great connection like I had with Emilie and Mamo. I can also tell that I am getting a little tired of traveling. In San Sebastián and in Pamplona I was really feeling it. I tried to enjoy the moment but I really just wanted to get to Haro to see leticia and then to start the camino. Anyway, no doubt San Sebastián had some nice views.
The next morning I took Blablacar to Pamplona and the young guy driving sounded EXACTLY like the andaluz in ocho apellidos vascos when he was pretending to have a north of Spain accent. It was hilarious and I immediately texted all of my roommates. (The movie came out this year in Spain. Extremely popular comedy about an andaluz that falls in love with a basque girl and pretends to be from the north to win over her father. It makes fun of the stereotypes of both areas so it might not be worth watching for a non-resident but the movie is great and had to put down the detail so I’ll always remember it).
Pamplona is also a beautiful city, known for it’s running of the bulls during the festival of san fermin that Hemingway wrote about. I had two full days and the city is small so I had time to relax in the hostel a bit and watch a movie, go grocery shopping and cook for a few days instead of eating out. I also saw transcendence because movies are cheap on Wednesdays but it sucks… So oh well.
Pamplona is also famous for it’s fortifications that surround the city and for a park that has wildlife in a moat. Probably the only time I’ll ever get to see peacocks, chicken, turkey, roosters, ducks, swans, and deer all in the same enclosure. Plus it must have been mating season because the peacocks were puffing out their tails which was pretty cool. In Pamplona I explored the city center, went to the museum of Navarre, walked around to look at the old walls, and relaxed a lot. I’m glad that my travel is winding down, I’m honestly ready to start hiking. But I still enjoyed these two cities.