While François did not move today, we did. Today we did the trip to San Sebastian-Donostia that we had planned for yesterday. After a late start to the day we walked down to the train station in Orio and took the 30 minute ride into downtown San Sebastian. San Sebastian is the Spanish name and Donostia is the Basque name for the town. In the city Donostia is used much more prevalently than San Sebastian.
Donostia is not an old city, everything but a couple of churches dates from no earlier than the mid-1850’s. There are a couple of reasons for this, the first is the British pretty much burned the city to the ground in 1813 after they captured it from the French. The second reason is that the Spanish seem so far, to be a little less enamored with old buildings, and have less of a problem knocking down old buildings and replacing them with new buildings. Our sample size is small on this, but that is our observation so far.
The city has a very prosperous air to it with lots of upscale shops, and very nice pedestrian promenades thru town. It is an easy town to move around on foot. Eventually we made it to the old town, which was the original footprint of the town dating back to the 1200’s and corresponds to the area within the old fort. We climbed the hill above the old town to the remnants of the fort, where we had a very nice view over the town. The climb was probably a couple of hundred feet in elevation gain, but was worth it when we got to the top. From the top of the old fort you have a great panorama of the two harbors that make up San Sebastian-Donostia.
At one time San Sebastian was a major port and ship building site. Today its main industry is tourism, and it excels at that. We climbed back down to the old town to look for a tapas lunch. We wandered into a tavern where lunch is laid out on the bar, and consists of different miniature sandwiches and tapas. You grab a plate and wander up and down the bar picking the food you want, when you have your plate full you grab a beer from the bartender, and head to a table. At the end you tell the bartender how many pieces you took (they pay attention), and how many beer you had, we had 8 pieces, and 3 beers. Ron was a little dehydrated from the climb.
After lunch we strolled around town for a while people watching, and having another stop at a local coffee shop. On the way back we stopped at the Cathedral, though we are getting a little jaded with Cathedrals. It was another fun day.