There's Spanish culture, there's French culture, and then there's Basque culture. Pete and Libby (whom you may remember from their photos of the Winter Olympics and Lindsey Vonn) decided to explore the Basque region in early May. They flew into Toulouse, France, and then drove to San Sebastian, Spain, where they spent two nights. Then, they went on to Biarritz, France, (only a 30-minute drive away!) for a few more days. They concluded their fabulous vacation by taking the TGV to Paris, to savor the City of Light before they returned to New York. Here, they share their photos and their experience in San Sebastian.
Where They Stayed: We stayed at Hotel Maria Christina, which is probably the nicest hotel that's centrally located in San Sebastian. It's a luxury Starwood property, and our room was very well appointed.
We would have preferred a younger crowd — it felt like all of the guests were 60-year-old American tourists. We weren't in love with the hotel, but we still felt like it was a good choice and we'd definitely recommend it.
What They Did: We mostly just walked around the town and enjoyed the gorgeous views. In the two days we were there, we felt like we had plenty of time to see everything. We climbed to the statue at the top of the hill, and rode the funicular to the top of Mt. Igueldo.
It wasn't truly beach weather yet, but we liked watching the surfers. And of course, it was great to just soak up the Spanish Basque culture.
An Amazing Dining Experience: We were so excited to get a reservation at Arzak, and the restaurant definitely lived up to its three Michelin stars. We opted for the tasting menu, but because of the language barrier we're still not 100% sure what we actually we ate. Every dish was a work of art, and we enjoyed it all.
The service was impeccable — they were willing to accommodate any dietary issues and you could substitute out any part of the tasting menu if you didn't like it. It was probably the best dining experience we've ever had!
…And Some Not-So-Amazing Dining Experiences: Don't even bother having dinner at a run-of-the-mill "sit-down" restaurant — the ones we went to were awful. The place to go is a pintxo, a tapas place where they put the food out on the bar and you're supposed to eat and drink while standing up there. Pinxtos don't even get started till after 9pm, and you'll see people of all ages crowding at the bar and getting drunk.
Tip: Check out the New York Times' 36 Hours in San Sebastian article for good advice on what to see and where to eat.