Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 17 San Sebastian Sunday Swim (almost)

Looking back at the town of San Sebastian from La Concha Bay

San Sebastian isn't really such a big town. So we had several potential plans for today. One was explore a National Park south of here in the Navarre region that is a lot like the badlands. But that requires a car and for us, preferably, a driver and guide. We could never get that worked out. We thought about going to Pamplona, but found that most of the historical sites were closed on Sunday. So what did we do? STAY HERE! We had a staycation on vacation. Which ended up suiting us just fine.
A look back at Mount Urgull

The rocks of Santa Clara Island

After sleeping late, a luxury that I rarely get to enjoy (although my retiree husband can now participate in regularly if he so desires!), we decided to go downtown and do a better exploration of the waterfront. Despite the temperatures of typically 60 to 70 degrees, we see people in the water pretty much constantly doing all sorts of water sports. When we arrived at La Concha beach where we intended to take the sightseeing boat to Santa Clara island, a small island right in the bay, we were greeted with the same huge crowd present on the first day. There was a rowing regatta taking place. So instead, we opted for a gelato and to come back later.

If you ever see Paul eating gelato or ice cream, there is an 85% chance it is mint chocolate chip. This time it was "after eight"---mint and chocolate sans chips

We finally did and we got a good view of the city from the little putt-putt tour boat. Although Mount Urgull gave us good views of the city, this as really the best view of the beach.

La Concha Beach

When we came back from our ride, we went to a sports spa on the beach called La Perla. It is a salt water spa. We learned later that large storms on the Atlantic will come ashore and pretty much demolish the beachside bars and businesses every few years. But lucky for us, La Perla is there now. We enjoyed the warm waters and the steam and dry heat rooms, especially after walking so much.

This hot pool had exercise stations in it

More our style--lay around in hot bubbly water and look at cold people on the beach.
We were told we could have beach access from the spa. That was true, but once we got out in the wind, we were WIMPS. How do these folks go to the beach with cold water in seventy degrees? They are definitely heartier than us!
We went to a similar spa last year in Soldeu, Andorra, which was definitely nicer, but this place was no slouch and welcomed by all our sore joints. I looked at my pedometer yesterday and realized we had only one day in the last 16 in which we didn't walk at least 10 miles. I remember the book, French Women Don't Get Fat (which obviously I did NOT read), but we have discovered that just in sightseeing, walking from the hotel which is about 1.25 miles from the tourist/restaurant/museum/beach area , we are walking almost as many miles as we did on the St. James Way. We are just breaking it up a bit and taking more time to do it. Today's final tally was 12.5 miles! And this was our lazy Sunday.

After our spa break, Paul wanted to try a new venue for gin and tonic across the road before setting out for dinner. The gin and tonics here are HUGE and very popular. We have found a brand of gin that has a floral botanical flavor and is really nice. We looked on line to see if we can buy it in the US, but it ain't looking good for the home team.

A man who enjoys his G&T

When we walked to dinner, since it's a Sunday night, we speculated things would be a lot less crazy than they were over the weekend with the obvious influx of tourist coming in from the countryside and France to enjoy the pintxos (the Basque word for tapas) and the bars. WRONG. The downtown was running over with people, many of whom were drunk and some of whom were barely vertical. They were eating not only in the bars and restaurants but literally sitting in the streets and leaving tons of litter behind them.

The view outside our restaurant window. Folks sitting on the street eating pintxos.
The only saving grace is that the old town is closed to anything on wheels, including bicycles, with the exception of baby strollers. And we saw tons of babies out at 12midnight with their parents. Different place, different culture!  We enjoyed a nice meal at La Fabrica, typical Basque dishes, and because we had the window table, we got to do a good bit of people watching.  I am going to post some food photos, but my last comment will be to quote something from Alton Brown, food network star that Paul read to me from an interview with him. He talked about the "pornifiaction" of food. I have to admit I am often guilty. And then he brought it home. Food is a basic need, It's not about the food. It is about sharing and who you are eating with. I totally agree and luckily, I shared this meal with my sweet hubby in San Sebastian.

An interpretation of gazpacho

Croquettes. These are uber popular and they make them out of all sorts of things.

Peppers. I could eat these three meals a day.

Paul's entrée--Duck

My entrée--Lamb with pumpkin

Meals here are large if you don't get pintxos. Three courses and always postre--dessert.. Paul had apple cake.

I got ice cream. They like to suspend it in juice. This is "red fruits" juice. I have also had it in OJ--like an orange Julius for those old enough to recall.

Paul's  Ponderings:  A well deserved slow day and we only walked 12 miles or so!     The spa was great and the weather was perfect here, although not quite good enough to go into the water at the actual beach!   In general, we've been blessed with good weather on this trip, with almost no rain.   Tomorrow it's off to see some wine country, so we look forward to that!

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