Since France was out of the question, we wanted to see a different country in Europe with the spare time we had. We looked up where we could get with Will’s temporary passport (pretty much everywhere but France) and chose Spain. Fortunately we were able to get Will’s real passport in a weeks time (thanks Mom and Dad!) so it didn’t matter, but regardless we ventured to Northern Spain for a week. The beaches were calling our names!
We finished up our last house sit in London and flew to Santander, Spain on August 22nd. First thing first we did was go grocery shopping for our usuals and then we went for a run around the Palacio de la Magdalena for the afternoon. For dinner we went downtown and realized why eating/drinking in Spain was so enjoyable. We went to 4 different resto-bars and enjoyed an assortment of drinks and pintxos (small sandwich tapas pronounced “pin-chos”) which were displayed all along the bar. Our favorite stop was Papano where we enjoyed a delightful meal of a burger slider, chicken bruschetta, a Cesar salad, free olive/anchovies/pepper toothpicks, and some bread and chicken slices, plus two drinks for a total of 17.50 euro… Fantastic! Everyone sat around chatting, drinking and occasionally eating a pintxo in no rush. We could get used to this culture.
Our goal was to stay out late and go dancing so we wandered to another bar for a baked fish with creamy tomato sauce, red wine and a cafe con leche (for only 5.20 euros) and wandered the streets a bit. We club hopped, waiting for a sweet dance party that never really happened. We probably went into 5 different clubs from 12:30 to 2am, and while we tried to get our groove on, it was mostly just people standing around and drinking, not necessarily something we enjoy. After one dance at the Tokyo lounge we took a cab home.
Sunday we went to the lighthouse out on the cliffs. I ran and Will hiked out to the point. It was sunny day and the ocean view was amazing. After the morning walk/run it was beach time. We spent a few hours soaking in the sun and ended up with some tan lines at Playa Bikini (bikini tops optional) to prove it. For dinner we wandered to the same downtown area to try a few different resto-bars. Will tried a local cider and we enjoyed a caesar salad and some pintxos for dinner. We walked along the boardwalk home which was windy but fun being along the water.
The next day we took a small ferry-like boat to Somo which yields a long skinny peninsula with beaches on both sides, Playa del Punto. We lounged on the beach but it was so windy it was tough to really relax. We did get some fun out of watching both the experienced and inexperienced kite boarders. Something we both want to try. After a quick nap we took a windy walk halfway out onto the playa then headed back in search of coffee and a break from the wind. When we got back we were both feeling like today could have been better. The day was a little lack luster and we didn’t feel like we were having fun. As dinner rolled around we felt blah so spent the night piecing together a meal from the grocery store, buying some wine and turning on True Detective season two (which we are hooked on). Every once and awhile we have days that don’t work out so we have a night in a head to bed early in hopes of a better tomorrow.
In the morning we had a bus to catch at 10:05, so if we wanted to run we’d have to set an alarm. Easier said than done, but we went running at 7am and luckily caught the sunset over Santander beach just as we started our run. It was a beautiful way to start the day! Our run took us back along the coast to the lighthouse, with great views along the route. Other people were few and far between, and those we did pass were the morning kind of people that want the most out of the day. After our run we grabbed a to-go cafe con leche and it was off to pack for our next adventure – San Sebastián.
We bused east to San Sabastián and as we walked to our airbnb we knew we’d enjoy this beach town. After getting settled in our airbnb we headed to the beach for some stand up paddle-boarding to Island Santa Clara just off the coast in the bay. It was hot so we were glad to be on the water. We walked around the island and boarded back to the beach for some sun bathing. Still, bikini tops were optional which I liked for tan line purposes. That evening we checked out ‘casco viejo’ or old town and caught the sunset off the pier. It was the only day without clouds so we were lucky. In old town the skinny cobble stone streets were busy with people crowding into resto-bars drinking, chatting and eating. We joined in and got some pintxos, wine, and salad for cheap. On our way back to our apartment we stopped for gelato which is very popular no matter the time of day and Will took some night photography shots. What a great day in a great city, not to mention we had a lovely sunrise run and enjoyed the sunset from a pier.
Blessed with more sunny warm weather during the rest of our visit in San Sabastián we made the most out of it by going for a morning run to the old city on Mount Urgyll where their is a big statue of Jesus, surfing some waves, beach lounging on one of the three available, visiting old town for best goat cheese (queso de cabra) we’ve ever had at La Cuchara, eating more pintxos and drinking good wine, and going for a long (3 beach) run while Will hiked over the hills to Pasaia on very little sleep (our accommodation was hot and a bit noisy).
Surfing was a major highlight for us! So fun to be back out on the water. We each rented long boards along with shorty wetsuits since the water is pretty chilly for extended swims. We had a great time catching a few waves, but it was so crowded that even when a good wave did come your way, you had to make sure your path was clear. We’re not quite good enough to be able to swerve away from folks in our way. Surfing in Spain, check!
Our last day in Spain was spent in the larger city of Bilbao. We splurged and stayed in a hotel since we didn’t sleep well in the airbnb the last few nights. We arrived by bus and went out to dinner in Old Town for, of course, pintxos and some traditional Spanish drinks: txakali (Basque country dry white wine) and tinto de verano (wine + lemonade). Delicious! We wondered around town, purchased a sticker and some sweets, then took the underground home before the crowds were too overwhelming. We just happened to visit on the weekend of their annual city fiesta that included street shows, fireworks and plenty of crowded streets. We retreated to our quiet hotel room to finish season two of True Detective and to sleep for a solid nine hours.
After a restful nights sleep we enjoyed a big buffet breakfast that supplied us for lunch too. Then took ourselves on a self guided running tour of the city — the quick, cheap way to see it all! Our tour included the Saint James Cathedral of Bilbao, the Artxanda Funicular, the Guggenheim, and a large city park. After the tour we packed up, showered and headed to the airport for our Aer Lingus (must be pronounced in an Irish accent) flight to Dublin, Ireland.
All in all the Basque portion of Spain was beautiful and we loved the culture. We already miss the warm weather, beaches and delicious pintoxs, but are very excited about Ireland. Next up…our road trip in Ireland and the Dingle Marathon!
Jenny & Will