San Sebastián

San Sebastián

San Sebastián, Spain – July 11, 2011

We departed Pozuelo and made it here today at about 13:00. It is strikingly beautiful. We are staying in the Hotel Mercure Monte lgueldo in rooms 120 and 121.

The main entrance to our hotel.

On the drive here, in the last 80 or 90 kilometers (50 or 56 miles), we went through 21 tunnels. It was like tunnel-rama! After checking-in, we went to our room and unpacked. The hotel is on a high point. Somewhere I read that it is 765 feet above the bay. So from our rooms, we have a commanding view of the Bay of Biscay, Concha Bay, the town, and old town. There is a small island, Santa Clara, that helps separate the two bays.

The tower Monte Igeldo near our hotel.
Ondarreta Beach as seen from our hotel vantage point.
A lighthouse just below our hotel, warning vessels in the Bay of Biscay of approaching land.
A panoramic view of the approach from the Bay of Biscay to Concha Bay. The old city of San Sebastian overlooks the east side of Concha Bay.

When we finished unpacking we took the funicular (cable car) from the hotel down to Ondarreta Beach. We walked to the beach and sat on a bench for a while. From there we walked inland a couple of blocks to find an ATM. After I got some cash, we walked back to a small restaurant on the beach. We sat there and had a drink; Hillary had a rosé, Leslie and I had red wine, and Tyler had a beer. From there we walked down and sat on the beach. Tyler and Hillary immediately set to making sandcastles. Leslie and I just sat there and watched. We ultimately took our shoes and socks off and waded in the ocean. It was cool, but not cold. We went along the beach until we came to a ramp from the beach up to the sidewalk. We went up there, rinsed our feet and put our shoes and socks back on. Then we walked back to the funicular and went back to our hotel. There, Leslie and I sat on our balcony with a glass of wine, looking at the bay. Very relaxing!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 riding the funicular from the hotel down to the beach.
About halfway down, we passed another funicular car going up to the hotel.
A bus in front of the funicular building near the beach.
My traveling companions at Ondarreta Beach.
The kids walking along the beach. The Bay of Biscay begins just beyond that upper breakwater.
Tyler and Hillary on the esplanade beside the beach.
Santa Clara Island is just across Concha Bay from the beach.
Portable changing stations at the edge of the beach.
A bright red vehicle for a local driver training school.
A typical residential scene near the beach.
Changing stations waiting for the next user.
The son and the mama.
Tyler demonstrating how to quaff a beer.
The view west from Ondarreta Beach. Our hotel and the tower are at the top of the mountain.
Who, us??!!
Putting his engineering skills to the test.
The view from Ondarreta Beach to the east and the old town area.
The sign for the funicular. The tower and a small portion of the hotel can be seen at the top.
An advertisement at the lower end of the funicular.
Back at the top, a partial view of our steed.
It is difficult to tell in this view, but the grade of the tracks is quite steep.
A view of Concha Bay.
Santa Clara Island helps protect Concha Bay.
Hillary and Tyler enjoying the water ride at the Monte Igueldo Amusement Park by our hotel.
The water wheel powering the water ride.
The eastern entrance from the Bay of Biscay to Concha Bay.
The historic tower.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant that was recommended by the hotel staff, la Rampa (The Ramp). The name derives from its proximity to the marina boat ramp.  It was next to the aquarium, near the old town area. We all had a salad as a starter. For the main course, Hillary, Tyler and I had sole. Leslie had Hake. It was a very good meal. It came to 170€ (US$207), including the six Euro tip we left. To go with dinner, we ordered a bottle of Campellares Rioja Tempranillo. It was wonderful. Even Tyler had a glass!

The smile preceding dinner.
Tyler watching a trailer with sculling boats pass by the restaurant.
Our hotel atop the mountain at dusk.
The view toward Concha Beach at dusk.
La Rampa Restaurant at the green awnings at dusk.
Tyler standing by the canon at the entrance to the aquarium.
The wonderful detail of the door to the aquarium.
A small boat approaching the wharf near the aquarium.
Another boat entering safe waters just under the Spanish flag.
Another portion of the marina at dusk.
The marina is packed with boats.
Kaimingaintxo Plaza at dusk.
The view along Calle Mayor toward the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Choir.
The view from our hotel in San Sebastian at night.

After getting up on the first morning, we went to the dining room to have a cup of coffee. By about 09:00 we called for a cab to take us to the Cathedral, Catedral Buen Pastor. Before we went inside we stopped at a cafe so the kids could get a little something to eat. When they were done we went into the Cathedral. The Cathedral was built in 1897. It was very dark and very plain inside.

Sunrise over the eastern end of the Bay of Biscay.
The Good Shepherd of San Sebastián Cathedral.
A rosette of stained glass inside the cathedral.
A statue of Mary and Jesus in the cathedral.
A depiction of the Holy Family.

When we left the Cathedral we made our way to Getaria Street and began our walk to the old town, Parte Vieja. As we walked along we went into several shops. We stopped at Plaza de la Constitucion. There were numbers painted above every window looking onto the plaza. My understanding is that the windows were sold in years past to watch bullfights in the plaza.

A weaving supply store.
A group of youngsters walking along the street.
This man may be rich! …or it may just be the sign…
A bicyclist passing by a very, very small vehicle.
Another group of kids walking along the street.
If Tyler was able to get inside this vehicle, I am not sure we would have ever been able to get him out!
Apparently, not all trees are skinny.
A unique flowering tree.
Another flowering tree in a flower bed.
A relaxing water feature.
Plaza de la Constitucion.
Detail of the buildings around Plaza de la Constitucion.

Leaving the plaza, we walked another block or so to San Vicente Church. It is a Gothic-style church that dates from the 16th century. It was much more ornate than the Cathedral.

A model of the St. Vincent Church.
The altar in St. Vincent’s.
Artwork in the church.
A depiction of the Holy Family.
Stained glass in the church.
A depiction of Jesus during the passion.
The main entrance to the church.
An empty water fountain near the church.
Children playing at the plaza in front of the San Telmo Museum.

From there we began to make our way toward the aquarium. Along the way, we stopped at the Church of Santa Maria. Of the three churches we saw that morning, this one was by far the most beautiful. The church dated from the 18th century.

What a Trip!!
Ornate work above the main entrance to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Choir.
The main aisle in the basilica.
A side chapel.
Detail of the chapel.
Another side chapel.

When we came out, we worked our way to the aquarium. It was just ok. It was certainly nothing compared to the aquarium we went to last year when we were in Valencia, Spain.

The view along Calle Mayor toward Good Shepherd of San Sebastián Cathedral.
A selection of mopeds near the stairs.
A fishing boat at the wharf.
A ship model in the aquarium.
Sculling uniforms on display in the aquarium.
Surely Nemo is here!
Dory is on the hunt for Nemo.
A couple of eels.
A small apartment near the aquarium and la Rampa.

Leaving the aquarium, we walked all the way back to the shopping center called Centro Commercial la Bretxa. We went there because there was a McDonald’s. By the time we got there, we were all beat. We ordered our meal, took it outside, and sat along the street. We were all incredibly hungry due to all of the walking we did that morning. The real coincidence of our trip was our taxi driver. At the end of our walk, we stood at the taxi stand, waiting for a taxi. When we got in, much to our surprise, it was the same driver that had taken us to the Cathedral earlier that morning.

When we got back to the hotel, the kids went up to their room. Leslie and I sat on the terrace and, you guessed it, had a glass of wine! After our drink, we went upstairs, laid down and fell fast asleep.  The next morning we would drive into France.

Cloudy morning over San Sebastian.

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