New Years in San Sebastián

A Drinking Song

  • Wine comes in at the mouth
  • And love comes in at the eye;
  • That’s all we shall know for truth
  • Before we grow old and die.
  • I lift the glass to my mouth,
  • I look at you, and I sigh.

W.B. Yeats

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We spent a few days in San Sebastián over New Years, and I fell in love.

I felt so at peace in this small city on the beach, wrinkled with cliffs and green woods. Pintxos are my new raison d’être. Here is what I loved seeing and eating on my first, brief visit: Goiz Argi for brocheta de gambas–luscious, garlic spiked shrimp on toast. Ganbara for a plate of buttery wild mushrooms topped with a runny yolk. Borda Berri for the idiazabel risotto (orzo risotto, sharp-creamy with tangy goat cheese, brightened by a ribbon of herby pistou) and the pork ribs (unlike any I’ve had before, I’m trying to get the recipe). Gandarias for solomillo (juicy strips of steak with sea salt). La Viña for cheesecake (it’s divine; more on this soon). Arzak for a first rate, colorful, adventurous fine-dining experience.

Aitor Lasa for dried mushrooms (we bought the angula del monte) and other ‘gourmet’ products. The ‘gourmet’ shop in the Maria Cristina Hotel (for olive oil, wine, and bomba rice). Mercado de la Bretxa to see all the local catch. San Sebastian Food for tours and guides. (I’m not usually much of a tour person, but with the limited time we had, we went for the Pintxo Hunter tour. Amazing.)

Walk around Mount Urgull and Mota Castle, on to the aquarium and a marina full of bright fishing boats. Continue along the sweeping promenade, crescenting the city’s three beaches where dogs are free to play in the winter. Walk as far as Monte Igueldo, and then ride the old fashioned teleferico to the top, to an amusement park like a 1970s fever dream, strange and abandoned in winter. At the end of the promenade, the Peine del Viento curves out from the rocks toward the sea. If you feel sturdy, walk a clip of the Camino, through dense pines and bamboo thickets, but mostly high above the ocean, weaving through rocky cliffs.


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  1. Alice

    It sounds you really enjoy your time there. You were lucky to have the sun with you. Good come back !

  2. Isabelle

    You made me remember when I was a child having fun at Monte Igueldo!
    Thank you for this attractive tour!

  3. Salt & Wind

    Oh, these photos are absolutely incredible. Thank you for the wanderlust!

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