Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spain Trip Part One: San Sebastian

Dios mio!  Y'all I just got back from a most wonderful trip to Spain with my Diego family.  We wined and dined, walked and talked, snoozed and boozed.  A great vacation is medicinal; I've returned to DC feeling more purposeful and well-rested.  But enough chatter- onto the photos!
Please note, I did not even bother to bring my camera on this trip.  John Paul was on it with his fancy new camera and lenses, and every photo you see is attributed to his excellent eye for detail and beauty.  From the 1200 pictures he snapped (!!), here are a few from our first city of San Sebastian.  (If you'd like to see many, many more, you can visit JP's Flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnpauldiego/.)

We arrived in our first city at 2pm, and went straight to Patricia's mother's for lunch.  This is the view from her house.  You can't make this stuff up.  There are sheep grazing below, to keep in line with the idyllic setting.  She lives on the top floor of a condo building on top of a mountain- breathtaking!  The kids did not stay there (sadly), but we got to enjoy this view at lunch each day we were in the city.

The second day in Spain was spent at a small amusement park in San Sebastian, where a few Diegos played bumper cars (Belen and Pablo above).  If I can figure out how to upload video, I'll post the film JP took of the 80+ year old roller coaster we went on that was built on the side of a cliff that overlooks the ocean.  Safety precautions be damned!

JP used his paparazzi lens on this photo (hence the reason only half of the group is looking at him), but we met up with Patricia's sister and two daughters for lunch on the second day, and had to stop for photos.  From left: Belen, Nahia (5 months pregnant with her fourth baby and looking seriously amazing!), Marta, Patricia, Ainara (Nahia's twin sister and devastatingly talented artist), Ana, and yours truly.  We munched on excellent seafood and took in views from our restaurant on top of a mountain.  Not a bad meal.

Later that day, we went pintxo bar-hopping in the city.  Pintxos are larger tapas, usually served on a baguette, and in Spain, most bars have plates of them out on the countertop.  You just wander from bar to bar and taste the fixin's, including lots of chorizo, peppers, and ham (jamon).  Here's a photo to illustrate:

It kind of feels like a giant potluck, only you have to pay for food.  So you order a beer (cerveza), pick out the treats you want by hand, and just tell the bartender how many you took.  They're generally the same price to make it easy to tally.  Rather than have a sit-down meal, we just visited a few bars and sampled along the way. 

 Angulas (baby eels) served with a bell pepper relish and shrimp on a baguette.

The end of a slice of tortilla de patata, a Spanish omelette with fried potato and onion slices (you'll find this on the menu at any time of day in Spain, and I think I had one each day we were there, including my last breakfast in the country!).

Even the cerveza is served in fancy glasses!

JP and I capped off the night with churros in hot chocolate as thick as pudding.  There is no better way to discuss your future than with fried dough and sweetness.

San Sebastian is only about 20 minutes away from the French border, so 7 of us drove over for chocolate crepes and vino blanco one afternoon.  As much as I love the beach in Florida, you cannot beat the view of the ocean in proximity to lush mountains and hills.

It was cool enough in Europe that I carried a scarf most days, and even had to top off my outfits with a sweater once or twice!

The night before we left San Sebastian, we walked along the waterfront to capture the sunset.  The city is set up like a seashell (la concha), with a promenade along the edge of the beach and two mountains closing the cove into a semi-circle.  It's a beautiful, beautiful space.

One more of the view! 
Seriously?  Jeez.  I want to go back sooooon. 

Just a brief explanation about this trip, for those of you I haven't gushed about it to yet:
John Paul is a dual citizen, and both of his parents are from Spain.  I didn't grow up having any sort of connection to the Spain or its culture, but John Paul and his family have introduced me to a beautiful country, language, and general way of life.  JP and I traveled to Spain alone in 2008, so this was my first time there with his whole family (we went with his parents, two sisters, and their boyfriends), and it made a huge difference.  Pablo and Patricia were so excited to show off their homeland, and allowed us to savor the food, architecture, and landscape Spain had to offer.  Truly, I could not have asked for more from this trip, and I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to take part in all the fun we had!
Coming up: more food, a stay in a very special hotel, and a hot air balloon ride.  I'm totally serious.


  1. This is incredible! It looks like you guys had a phenomenal time, and got to relax and enjoy, rather than running around doing touristy things--the best kind of vacation :) Can't wait for more pictures!

    (love, haley)

  2. OMG!!! You have come SUCH a long way from Indiantown, FL!!! Whatta vacation!!!
    XXXX - G'ma

  3. Great blog man, I really love your writing style that you are using for your posts and stuff,