(if you don't watch Parks and Rec, I don't know why we are friends. So you should probably start watching it ASAP.)
Kat, Danielle L, and I bought tickets to a 12:30 am night bus, so we wouldn't have to miss class on Thursday. It sounded like a good idea at the time--we can sleep on the bus! we'll get 6 hrs of sleep! we can watch the sun rise over the ocean when we get there!--but it turned out to be pretty freaking brutal, mostly thanks to a group of horribly annoying Americans sitting behind us (stupid Americans!)
|Waiting for the metro to take us to the train station. The metro car was filled with girls ready to go out for the nigt; I was wearing yoga pants, sneakers, and glasses|
|Danielle & Kat after we arrived in S.S....at 6:30 am|
|La Playa Concha|
|It slowly got brighter...|
|The harbor and Monte Urgull|
At around 8 am, when businesses started to open and the sun was almost all the way up, we went in search of our hostel and some croissants. There was a huge crowd of backpackers outside our hostel (and the website through which we booked our room said check-in wasn't until 10), we wandered around La Parte Vieja (old town) and then took a nap in a plaza before trying our luck at the hostel a little after 9. Once we lugged our bags up an unlit staircase, we found ourselves in a dingy but funky hostel, with walls painted bright purple and teal. Things were looking good until the guy at reception told us our room wouldn't be ready until 1 pm. Since at this point all we wanted to do was take a nap, this was pretty devastating news, but he let us store our bags and use the bathrooms to brush our teeth and change. Then it was back out into the streets to find coffee and explore a bit.
|So many scooters here. Dad, you would fit right in!|
|Buildings along the harbor|
|Cute old ladies at the open-air market|
|"Donostia" is the basque name for the city|
|Cheesin at the breakwater|
|Overly excited about the red carpet|
|Life goal: own an apartment in one of those buildings|
|Freshly raked beach!|
|The breakwater. The rocks were covered in graffiti against the ETA, the basque terrorist group|
|We met a girl from Seattle and she took our picture!|
|Totally backlit but I promise that's me!|
|Oh hi, Atlantic Ocean.|
|I'm a giant cheeseball.|
|I just want that car.|
|Puss in Boots!|
|Manicure for the weekend...I have a problem, guys|
|We found another red carpet, this time one we could walk on|
|Back at the outdoor market|
|Finalllllly found breakfast!|
|Look how freaking cute this jam jar is!|
|Danielle & me|
|Danielle, me, & Kat...taken by a cute family from Palo Alto!|
|So nautical right now|
|Me & Kat|
|Ikea bunk beds, of course.|
After breakfast that morning we had gone to the grocery store and picked up some baguettes, a wedge of brie, a pack of jamón serrano, and a carton of grapes, so after a quick nap we snagged a knife from the hostel kitchen and headed to the beach.
|Feelin' oh so European.|
|So. Good. SO GOOOOOOOOD. I think we spent 6 eur total for all this!|
|La Playa Concha|
|My first time swimming in the Atlantic!|
We took another nap after getting back to the hostel and showering and then met up with the five other girls from the group who were staying at various other hostels. Our initial plan was to get pinxtos (the basque word for tapas), but I couldn't find any that weren't slathered in anchovies, so Kat and I found a restaurant with giant plates of fried eggs, red peppers, and french fries. It was kind of weird to have what I consider breakfast food with a bottle of white wine, but pretty much everything about mealtime in Spain is weird.
|Everything here is in Castellano and Basque|
I wish I had pictures of it, but while the girls and I were figuring out what we wanted to do for the night, we suddenly heard the opening chords of blink-182's "All The Small Things." It seemed to be coming from one of the main plazas so we literally sprinted there to discover a cover band playing outside of a restaurant. Even though the singer sang with such a heavy Spanish accent it was almost impossible to tell what he was saying, it was comforting to dance like crazy to some good 'ol American rock favorites--Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, etc. There is TONS of American/British music here--almost every bar, store, and restaurant you go into, actually--but it's mostly just pop (I hear "Rolling in the Deep" at least three times a day), so this was a welcome departure from the norm.
I ended up calling it a night early because I was still exhausted from the night before, and ended up getting 9 hours of sleep! It was a blessed miracle. I woke up to a foggy morning (also a welcome departure from the norm, as it's been extremely sunny and hot every single day in Madrid) and headed to the hostel kitchen to get some breakfast. A sign next to the breakfast table promised Nutella, but there was none, which was quite devastating. They did, however, have peach jam, which is my new obsession, so all wasn't quite lost.
After breakfast, it was time for more adventuring! Kat, Danielle, and I decided to climb Monte Urgull, which has a giant statue of Jesus on top of it, which reminded me of the famous statue in Rio de Janiero.
|We walked by this cafe on the way to the mountain...what a weird place for a wedding day breakfast|
|The foggy harbor and Monte Igueldo in the distance|
|Me & Danielle|
|Kat & me|
Halfway up the mountain, we came across an English cemetery. Since San Sebastián was an important naval port, it was the site of a lot of battles. During the Peninsular War of 1813, England sent troops to help aid their southern neighbors. To honor those who lost their lives, Spain constructed this cemetery on the beautifully mossy ocean-facing side of Monte Urgull.
|Tomb of the unknown soldier--I love how the divots in the rock look like footprints|
|There was a cool tunnel|
[photo cred: Kat]
|Cheeseball pt 20398|
|Finally made it to the top!|
|There is SO much graffiti in Spain|
|La Corazón de Jesus|
|Not pictured: the cell tower on his back. Wish I was kidding...|
|Solo shots are so awkward.|
After climbing back down the mountain, Kat and I went out for some retail therapy (it was a long hike, okay?!) and another bread-and-brie lunch. Then it was time for a quick nap before heading across the city to watch the sunset from the top of Monte Igueldo.
|I had missed being near a beach SO MUCH|
|The funicular station|
|Me & Danielle in the funicular|
|Just. Look. At. That. Freakin. Sunset.|
|Danielle, Danielle, me, and Aubrey|
|Danielle, Aubrey, me, Kat, and Stacy being pensive|
|Crazy excited...or maybe just crazy|
|Best damn view I've ever had from a rollercoaster|
After the beach, we went to find dinner and got super excited when we came across a "Mexican" place. Unfortunately, the food was unbelievably disgusting. The restaurant was really dark, which I am thankful for, because I'm pretty sure my nachos had insects in them. I don't wanna talk about it anymore...
On Sunday we woke up early to pack, eat breakfast, and get out of the hostel and onto THE BEACH! Actually, only Kat and I went to the beach, because the rest of the girls were loco and decided to go eat pasta. As much as I love pasta...beaches are better.
|I had to be careful taking pictures because there were topless old ladies everywhere|
|Kat reading some really obscure Spanish novel|
|I'm happiest when my feet are sandy|
One thing I really love about Spain is how active the senior citizens are. There was one group of old ladies near Kat and I who all had on adorable bathing suits and stylish sunglasses, lounging in the sun while wearing red lipstick and gold bracelets. Later, they all got in the water and played catch with a Toy Story ball. Definitely not something you'd see in the US. People just enjoy life more and for longer here.
Our bus was at 4 and we were running a tiny bit late, but not so late that we didn't have time to eat...HAMBURGERS. Yeaahhh, that's right. We found a café with American license plates and Norman Rockwell posters on the wall and I ordered myself a damn hamburger, ketchup, pickles, white-bread-bun and all. I don't even eat hamburgers in the US but a taste of something so quintessentially US of A was just what I needed before a seven hour bus ride back to Madrid.
It was a beautiful, relaxing weekend, and San Sebastián is maybe the most gorgeous place I've been in my life. I'm so happy I decided to listen to my host mom when she said, "No te pierdas San Sebastián--sería una pena" (Don't miss S.S.--it would be a shame if you did!" This place wasn't on my travel itinerary when I got to Spain--I mean, I didn't even know it existed. I guess a spur-of-the-moment bus ticket purchase to a place you know nothing about can pay off big time. So far, this whole "more adventurous" thing is treating me pretty damn well :)