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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.