First Encounter with San Sebastian

2 Posted by - March 7, 2014 - Blog, Cities & Culture, Spain

After Belgrade, I came here to San Sebastian and guess what… košava! But here of course it doesn’t come from the mountains but from the ocean, and it’s extremely humid, but equally strong. It’s even more funny as I ride a bike (sometimes, you can imagine, I ride in a place, people walking beside me are faster).

 

I have never really lived by the sea, so it’s quite an experience to ride twice every day along the beach and note how the tide changes, how huge clouds hang low above us and to admire the power of the ocean which these days destroys barriers and railings and sometimes even enters the streets. If there is one thing you can be sure of, it is the high probability of rain.

The city itself has 100,000 inhabitants and is possible to cross to and from within an hour. But at the same time the architecture is rather splendid. There is some pride in the air in the place where prices overturn those in the capital, luxury hotels constitute the dominant part of the city centre, but also average inhabitants are housed behind beautifully carved facades made of bright sunny sandstone.

Broad avenues planted with giant palms and narrow cosy streets packed with pintxos bars (traditional snacks, elsewhere in Spain called tapas) in the Old Town serve both equally – the rich and the poor (students included 🙂 ). The seashore offers another impressive view – la Contxa (shell), the most famous of three beaches (the other two called Ondarreta and Zurriola. La Contxa is flanked with two hills, Igueldo and Urgull (each one with a fortress on top) and protected by an island Santa Clara situated exactly between them. Due to this fantastic natural landscape, while people in other parts of the world after hours usually go to gym or jogging, here the common activity is surfing (I´m gonna try, I´m gonna try!!!).

The place has the mixture I love the most: the sea and the mountains, plus there is a Ría splitting the town in half which adds to its beauty. The drinks are quite expensive (unless there is an pintxo-pote or Erasmus night) so that you can quickly get discouraged by the haunting perspective of future bankruptcy.

 

I share a big flat (with a corridor which invites to start practicing jogging) with three adorable Basque girls. They introduce to me Basque sense of humor, local food and customs and all there is loads of fun with them. They have never lived with a foreigner, so we are kinda attraction to each other. 🙂

 

The beggining of March was marked by carnavales – celebrated here from Jueves Ladrero (Fat Thursday) until Tuesday. It’s fascinating, because literally everybody has a costume! I have seen all families of zombies and clowns, gospel choir, pirate ship, cookers´ brass orchestra, “herds” of lions, penguins of all ages, from babies to elderly… One thing I won’t forget is a group of friends in their fifties, all dressed in colorful leggings, wearing inflatable rescue wheels with small numbered flags attached. I was standing beside them for a good while, looking how much fun they have bumping into one another and suddenly the illumination came: electric cars in an amusement park! It was just awesome…

And now, a postre, languages! As you probably now, Euskera, or Basque, is in use here and has an equal status as Spanish (well, in subjective opinion of many Basques, the status is nothing but equal, of course). It’s one of the most mysterious languages in the world. Its origins are still unknown (recently, in Serbian radio, I´ve heard it shows certain connections with one of languages and it doesn’t look not sound like any of surrounding languages. It’s fun as hell, cause you add endings to the words to form anything, just like in Hungarian or Turkish! And of course I wouldn’t be me if I haven’t tried to learn it!

 

As a teaser for my next report from San Sebastián, my favourite euskera phrase learned so far: Ni oso gozozalea naiz. (I´m a real sweet-tooth).

 

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