Holiday photos: day 29

I keep mentioning my favourite places for drinks, coffee, snacks, breakfast etc so I thought I’d break with tradition and share some of these with you. There are lots of great bread and cake shops, cafes and bars in San Sebastian and I think we’ve tried a fair few of them.

It was only once I started writing that I realised most of my recommendations below are in or near to my favourite square, Plaza de Gipuzkoa, a romantic and charming green space right in the centre of the city, designed by the prestigious French gardener, Pierre Ducasse. It’s home to a large number and variety of trees, flowers and plants, plus a pond with ducks and swans. It’s bordered by a number of important local buildings and arcades, plus houses:

  • a monument to local musician, Jose Maria Usandizaga
  • a temple-shaped stone weather station
  • a large white marble table indicating times
  • an enormous multi-coloured flower clock

and the surrounding arcades are home to a number of our favourite establishments.

Pasteleria Otaegui

This one has several branches and was set up in 1886 by the Otaegui family in 1886. It has really pretty shop fronts and sells bread, homemade chocolates, biscuits made with local walnuts and hazelnuts, coffee and chocolate eclairs, madeleines and cakes such as their version of Pastel Vasco, a Basque cake made with cooked pastry cream and lemon rather than cherry jam.

Pasteleria Aguirre

Again, this small attractive pastry shops has a number of branches and also sells ice cream, homemade chocolates, pastries and a lovely range of tarts. My beloved likes their St Ignacio tart.

Cafe Gogoko Goxuak

With its bentwood chairs and industrial chic, this cafe has a decided Le Pain Quotidien vibe. Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon coffee and cake, it has excellent coffee, bread, croissants and baked goodies. Eat in or take away.

Pasteleria Barrenetxe

This neighbourhood institution can trace its roots back to 1699. It’s on the same square as the cafe above and is a great spot for breakfast. They sell bread, chocolate and an excellent range of pastries plus my favourite toast with tomatoes.

Bar Bideluze

This place is open all hours and offers a more substantial breakfast including their delicious tortilla, ham and eggs along with croissants, cake, coffee and fresh juice. It also serves my second favourite Aperol Spritz and we’re not above dropping in here of an evening for some pintxos. The company has two branches, the larger one being in the same square as the two favourites above but we prefer its smaller branch around the corner.

Victoria Cafe

Next to the theatre is the home of our favourite Aperol Spritz (€ 4.50) which we like to drink while nibbling on a bowl of olives and watching the world pass by. It also serves breakfast and snacks throughout the day.

Pasteleria Oiartzun

At the entrance to the Old Town is our favourite ice cream shop which has since taken over the cake and coffee shop next door. You’ll find branches of this company in other towns such as Getaria. Their ice cream is made with top quality, local, raw materials and they have over 50 flavours. We cannot claim to have tried them all!



Holiday photos: day 26

My beloved was due back from his business trip late on Saturday evening. I was just about  to go out, having wrapped up reviewing the day’s stage for VeloVoices, when my phone rang. It was my beloved who had missed his connecting flight from Madrid to San Sebastian due to the late arrival of his inbound flight from Heathrow. He’d be back around midday on Sunday.

While he’s been away I’ve been enjoying the jazz festival.  Mornings I head for my morning walk along the beach before going to my favourite breakfast spot, to order an americano y tostada con tomate, the latter comes with olive oil, salt and a raw tomato paste (header photo of my DIY version). It’s delish and has replaced my usual avocado on toast. I sit outside and listen to the band playing in the San Martin market. They don’t appear to be part of the Festival, I think they’ve just jumped on the bandwagon.

Breakfast over, I head to La Brexia market for fresh fruit, salad stuff and olives before wending my way back to the flat, again via the beach. And no, before you ask, the shins still haven’t tanned! Afternoons have been taken up with watching the Tour de France and the European Water Polo Championships.

Most evenings I’ve walked along  the seafront, sat on a bench in the park opposite the Town Hall and listened to whoever’s been playing on the stage there. Some evenings I’ve treated myself to a sorbet from my favourite ice cream shop, other times just some water from the Heineken stand – the Jazz Festival is sponsored by Heineken.

If the music hasn’t been to my taste, I’ve continued my pursuit of the best Aperol Spritz in town. When it comes to bars, I look carefully at its clientele. San Sebastián has loads of elderly – as in much older than me – chic ladies, probably widows. They tend to gather in groups in the evening to enjoy a chat and a cocktail or two with a pintxos or two. If there’s plenty of glamorous grannies, I’ll go inside or sit outside. I now have further contenders for the prize and will allow my beloved to have the casting vote, something he rarely enjoys.


Holiday photos: day 20

The agency which manages the apartment we’re staying in closes on Sunday so we had to collect the keys from a dispenser with a code. Unfortunately, the screen of the dispenser required you to be at least six feet tall and I couldn’t successfully input the code for the keys. Luckily my beloved met the height requirement and successful input the code. The key ring dropped out. Sadly there were no keys attached to the ring!

We called the mobile number on the agency’s window and it was answered by the uberhelpful Diego who said he’d be with us shortly. And, he was. The flat was literally round the corner from the agency so Diego was able to explain the problem with the prized car parking space. It’s teeny, tiny. I’d be hard pressed to get the Smart in there. I suggested it might have been a good idea to include that information on the site!

The  agency have agreed to pay for the cost of us parking our car in the nearby car park at €30,00 per day. The apartment is in a lovely location, less than 100m stroll from the beach. It’s well-appointed, particularly the kitchen. Of course my first task was to wash all of my beloved’s clothes. Yes, he’d worn everything though some of it only for a couple of hours. For those first few days, the flat resembled a Chinese laundry.

While we know San Sebastian well, our first move was to do a detailed reconnaissance of the neighbourhood to suss out the best bars, coffee shops etc. Everything we need is within a block or two, including a great bike hire place. I’m now looking forward to a few days on my own, while my beloved flies back to UK, to check out all my favourite places.