Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Category Archives: Spain

Basque Country part 2: San Sebastián

This series on the Basque Country is not in chronological order. I wanted to write the San Sebastián post before La Rhune and Biarritz, while it is still relatively fresh in my mind, since it was such an interesting trip.

So, San Sebastián. It is a city on the Spanish side of the Basque Country known for its lovely beaches. I am truly willing to say that I liked it more than Barcelona, the only other big city in Spain that I have visited so far. Before going to San Sebastián, I got the impression that it was a small, touristy city that would require no more than one day to experience. In fact, I was going to stay only one night and head back to Bordeaux the next day before Mariel suggested staying two nights. I’m glad I took her advice, as San Sebastián had much more to offer than I had anticipated!

From Biarritz, Mariel and I hopped onto the PESA bus that took us directly to San Sebastián. The ride itself wasn’t particularly pleasant – it was the first time after a very long time that I got carsick (or…bus-sick, if there is such a term?) I believe it must have been due to the rough roads from Biarritz to San Sebastián, though I couldn’t be sure because I was half asleep during most of the trip.

We arrived at night, found our hostel, dropped off our belongings, and headed out to dinner right away. The real exploration started the next morning, when we decided to stroll along the riverside and head up Monte Urgull, a hill right in the midst of the city between the two beaches, Zurriola and La Concha.

We climbed up Monte Urgull at a very leisurely pace, occasionally stopping to enjoy the view of San Sebastián. From Monte Urgull, the entire crescent of the Bay of La Concha could be viewed, and all of San Sebastián was laid out right in front of your eyes.

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Spain part 2 – Girona and Vilanova

While roaming in Europe, travellers realize that many gems are hidden in small, lesser-known towns and municipalities. Whether it’s in terms of food, culture, or atmosphere, it’s a completely different experience visiting big tourist cities while compared to quieter, less popular destinations. That was why aside from Barcelona, friend LS-san and I decided to visit a random city nearby on days 2 and 3 of our trip.

First, it was a choice between Tarragona, Zaragoza, and Girona. Taking into consideration travel time and cost, we decided to venture to Girona on day 2, a Spanish town north of Barcelona approximately an hour and a half away by train.

As for day 3, we headed to Vilanova i la Geltrú, a small town which took us about 40 minutes to get to from Barcelona. It was an accidental discovery, actually. The moment I saw Vilanova i la Geltrú on the map, I knew there was something familiar about it. Later I remembered seeing its name on the trams of Bordeaux, thus realizing that it is in fact twinned with Merignac, a suburb of Bordeaux. So naturally, we figured we’d go take a look.

The town of Girona, with houses along the Onyar river as seen from the old bridge. The colours of Girona remind me slightly of Lisbon, bright and pastel.

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Spain part 1 – The best of Barcelona

Why, hola September! You are already here, I wasn’t expecting to see you for awhile. I guess I’d better write about my trip to Barcelona last month (was it really last month already?) before you move along too quickly!

The trip to Barcelona was much anticipated for several reasons. 1) I’ve heard mixed reviews for most popular travel destinations in Europe (Paris and Rome, for example) but I have not heard a single negative review about Barcelona. 2) LS-san, whose real name shall remain concealed, was my travel buddy for the week. This kid KNOWS how to travel, and what’s more, I haven’t seen him in almost a year! What better place to reunite than in beautiful Spain? 3) Spain = seafood and paella. I think that speaks for itself.

First impression of Barcelona upon exiting the airport – damn, it’s hot! Well, I suppose that was to be expected. Thank goodness I brought shorts, although they were originally intended to act as pyjamas.

Travelling to Barcelona would also prove to be an interesting little adventure for LS and I because neither of us researched deeply into what we would be doing there during our 5-day stay. Well, LS did know that he wanted to see Gaudi’s stuff, but I literally did not know where I needed to go from the airport, so thankfully LS managed to find his way to the airport to meet me, as he arrived a day earlier than I did. Usually when I visit a new city, I either plan out my routes extensively (familiarize with metro system, find out about points of attraction, etc.) or blindly follow the guide my friends who live in the city. That method has never failed before, but I think both LS and I forgot that neither of us lives in Barcelona and therefore no one would really know what was going on. Uh oh.

That didn’t cause a panic attack or anything. In fact, it was all the more fun because LS was a spontaneous traveller anyway, and we both loved getting lost and found in new, exotic places. So with a map in our hands, we plunged into the unknown.

Oh, I didn’t bring Mr.Nikon with me due to Barcelona’s notorious reputation of cameras being stolen and whatnot. Also Easyjet’s one-baggage quality wouldn’t have allowed me to bring my camera bag. Oh well, good ol’ Mr.Canon got the job done.

On the first day, we were looking for the way back to the hostel from the airport, if I remember correctly, and we may have been lost at some point. I saw this gigantic mural while wandering aimlessly through the streets of Barcelona. Quite magnificent, I must say.

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