Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 8: San Sebastian

Day 8:  San Sebastian
One form of apology

POTD:  I'm sorry: Desculpe
Our room (1/8 the size of Gehry hotel), note "shades" set into glass wall of bathroom
Weather: Cool and raining on the drive back to Bilbao

As reported yesterday, today THB got up and went to the FC and watched the Warriors come back to end Blazers playoff hopes. You’re reading this again some  time in the future; how far in the future can not be determined. Please do you own calculation. What day is today? Subtract from your date. Send answer to #donaldsveepisdirtyharryinafewdollarsmore

Breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Guggenheim: NOT TOO SHABBY! (no, our rooms still do not overlook the Guggenheim).

A bit before 9, the fab four pile into the trusty BMW, motor to San Sebastian and pick up Gabriela, our guide from two days ago, for a tour of this resort town.

One view of town

Chillida sculpture on far edge of bay

Short version:

We wander around old town, buying jewelry, bread, olives, tuna, chocolate with nuts, see a men’s eating club facility, take the coastal route to the next beach town to the west, have a terrific 3 hour meal at one-star Elkano in Getaria, miss out on the Balenciaga museum because it closes at 5, tour Getaria on foot, say goodbye to Gabriela, motor back to Bilbao and retire to our rooms around 8.
Franco's summer residence


Requires a pass key to open (gov't now checking trash disposal electronically!!)

Long version:

Takes about an hour to get to San Sebastian. Gabriela leads us from the meet-up site to a view of the town from the edge of the bay, where there’s a sculpture by a guy who was Chillida’s mentor. We drive through town and up and out a bit, very close to where THB and DB and SB and AB spent 4 nights in a nearby hotel, doing day tours of the area, in 2008. We do a brief walk-through of Franco’s summer residence and surrounding grounds, and the same at a culinary school where Gabriela teaches communication to 2 year students.

Return to town and park in Old Town (5E) and begin our tour with a stop at a local jewelry store where DB buys a handsome understated necklace by Enric Majoral, a jewelry artist already in her collection.
Tamarisk or Tamarinth trees

Looks good, NOT where THB bought bread

THB's purchase

Made at a fish store? Yep!

Continue strolling to a store where THB buys half a loaf of turmeric and walnut and raisin bread by The Loaf bakery (2.5E), disciples of the Jim Lahey style of bread baking. Of course Gabriela uses the Lahey cookbook and THB recommends the ocean water loaf. SA buys lots of jars of tuna in oil.

More strolling, more discussions of eating clubs, caudrilleros (drinking/pintxos buddies, most men and some women are life-long companions in the world of meeting up in this bar-centered culture), Basque autonomy (Spain, we barely need no stinkin’ Spaini), the Spanish Civil War, and Gabriela creates a vivid, extensive, and persuasive understanding of all these topics in a rush of words.

Mix on a skewer

You eat it all in one go, sliding everything off the skewer together

Hey, you can’t go to long in this part of the world without stopping for food: we have terrific cold and hot pintxos and the local light white wine. San Sebastian’s version are outshining Bilbao’s (it is not really close).

Not apartment numbers, "seat" assignments for events held in the square

More strolling, more discussions, a visit to an eating club (all men) where 2 guys are preparing fish for a lunch to be served later while a friend of Gabriela’s gives us an overview of how the system works. All this talk of and the act of cooking food are making us hungry (well, maybe not exactly hungry). We agree with Gabriela on a one-star spot in the next town, Getaria, specializing in fish. Rezzie made, easy ride along the coast is your massive BMW.

Pop Quiz: What was Elcano (Elkano?) known for?

Turbot and peppers on the grill

This is one terrific meal:

-         Amuse bouche of marinated anchovies with bread crumbs and garlic

-         Spring peas and egg yolk

-         Grilled anchovies with oil and garlic
-         A small  plate of mixed veggies: THB skips this
-         Turbot, lightly grilled, finished off by picking up the fin portion with your hands (just THB’s style, along with being the only one to eat the cheeks)

-         Four desserts, including chocolate soufflé, flan, three types of ice cream, and French toast with ice cream

-         Two bottles of local wine (one, like a Chardonnay, tastes better as it warms up)

-         After dinner (after lunch? After linner?) drinks: anise, coffee, pear

-         Petit fours

-         Coffees

Awesome! Of course Gabriela knows the family running the restaurant and several of the other diners. She’s a walking ambassador for all things food, history, wine, food, culture of this part of the world. As part of the meal, THB takes the moment (many moments) to question Gabriela on her side of the guide business. In the aftermath, we forget to tip the restaurant (about 10%) is expected and not required. Total for five: 335E, or around $75 pp (we paid for Gabriela, of course. She asked if we wanted her to be included, and we said YES!). A great companion!

And, Gabriela's half day fee is 295E (full day is 500E). We give her a generous tip for half day (in a mix of $ and E), which turns out to be from 10am to 5:30, and picked up all her food costs.

A short stroll to the now closed Balenciaga: big museum and small and well worthwhile visiting exhibit. Too bad, we’ve eaten into the time allotted.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Juan Elcano was not Ferdinand Magellan. He was, however, the first guy to circumnavigate the earth, something Magellan did not do first.

And, lastly, time for us to get back on the Camino de Santiago!

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