Well what else would you do in a warm climate… except hike up the tallest hill you can find? San Sebastian is flanked by the lushly green Monte Igeldo and Monte Urgull, the latter topped by a 16th century fortress of Santa Cruz de la Mota, in turn topped with a massive statue of Christ – the Sagrado Corszon.
We’re at the foot of Monte Urgull, seaside: the climb up meanders past the Monte’s military history, effectively providing an open air musuem. We pass the graves of Englishmen who died in battle with the French in the 1813, a strategic point used by Napoleon and his strategists and of course the fort at the peak. The 360° views are truly worth the steep climb.
We follow a different path down – this one leads to the old a city, just behind the magnificent church, Santa Maria del Coro.
Highly ornate, it was rebuilt in the 18th century in a mixture of Gothic, Neo Classical and Churrigueresque styles, following a fire. It’s well worth the price of entry.
We reward our good work with a lunch of pintxios in a new spot, still delightful. Such a great way to eat, lots of different flavours and great flexibility to suit hunger levels. Along our way we’re entertained by wandering musicians and dancers – the locals need little excuse to break into song or dance.
After lunch, we set out for the next church, cross town and directly opposite to Santa Maria del Coro. From a distance its looks intricately designed, but the interior is surprisingly plain.
Nevermind, there’s always that most fabulous cheesecake at La Vina to cushion a little disappointment. Funny story – I spotted it on our first day and noted it a must try. My friend Wendy also emailed me a recommendations for San Sebastian, amongst her tips – this cheesecake. The internet reveals a slew of international devotees. Light, fluffy, creamy goodness, it’s fully deserving of its reputation.
In the warmth of the late afternoon, a little siesta beckons followed by drinks in the Plaza de la Constitucion with its unusually numbered apartments. These are a remnant of when bullfighting was held in the square – the balconies were allocated public seating.
Thankfully, the days of bullfighting are long past. It’s a great spot to people watch and admire the late afternoon light.
Dinner is of course pintxios. At this point I’d happily commit to this type of eating forever – essentially Spanish yumcha, my other most favoured meal. I love the simplicity of it, reliant fully on superb produce rather than technique. The quality of wine is excellent too – one simply orders Tinto – and a fabulous red appears. No analysis of wine labels needed. Oh how Melbourne would benefit from a fabulous pintxios bar. And how our health inspectors would ruin it by insisting all food be under cover and refrigerated to the point of tasteless. *Sigh*
Eventually we meander home to enjoy another fabulous sunset.
Everyone is out, enjoying life. I’m really, really in love with San Sebastian.