San Sebastián + Pamplona

Hola from rainy Pamplona. We are currently on the bus heading to Barcelona via Zaragoza. It’s a pretty long drive day but we’ve got a few things on tonight. Yesterday was a great but difficult day (for me, Aimee). Without fail I get sick when I go overseas on holiday. I even got sick on an 8 day road trip around NZ so I don’t even need a couple of weeks for sickness to strike.

Day 4

We got to have a nice sleep in yesterday which is a rarity on Contiki. We slept in until about 8:30 and went down for our breakfast. This breakfast buffet had pretty much everything you could ever want for breakfast and more. Ronnie thought it was the best hotel breakfast he’s ever had. We then departed for San Sebastián at about 10:30. The weather forecast was for it to be overcast and not great beach weather which is why we got the sleep in.

We got to San Sebastián in time for lunch. The Basque Country doesn’t have tapas. They have pinxtos (pronounced peen-chos) which translates to spear. The reason for this is because a pinxto is typically some kind of food (could be anything) on a slice of bread with a toothpick through it. Traditionally you keep your toothpicks and you pay according to how many toothpicks you have. Like tapas you bar hop. You don’t typically stay in one bar for long.

Many pinxtos!

Zach made some suggestions as to which bars are his favourite. We decided to go to the first one on his list because we saw it first when we were walking through the old town. The bar was called Nagusia Lau and laying on the bar were many pinxtos. A lot of them had seafood toppings. We asked for a plate and chose a couple. Ronnie picked one up which he thought was just ham and sauce on bread. I got one which was a mini jamon sandwich. At this bar you ordered your drink and paid at that time rather than do the toothpick thing. The Basque Country is known for a few drinks of which we ordered a couple of them. Ronnie got red wine and coke which is called kalimotxo. I got Basque cider.

Damn you bread shaped pate!

We sat down at a little table in the crowded bar to try out food and drinks. Ronnie then discovered that what he thought was bread was some kind of pâté which was covering the actual slice of bread and it was topped with ham and mayonnaise type sauces. He tried it but didn’t like it. He said his drink was good but he preferred red wine on its own. My jamon baguette thing was pretty tasty but not too adventurous. The cider was not like cider I’m used to drinking but it was alright. It’s a flat cider which they pour from height to get bubbles in and it was not sweet at all. We thought the bar was pretty average so decided to move on.

Coke + Red Wine. Weird but not bad

I read reviews on TripAdvisor about another of Zach’s suggestions and it got excellent reviews where everyone raved about their risotto made with orzo. We were keen to try it so we wandered down there. This bar was called Borda Berri. This wasn’t the typical pinxto bar where the food was on the bar. You had to order. We ordered a media (half) racione of the risotto, a media racione of the pork rib and a tinto de verano each. We also got bread with it.

The food and nectar of gods

We received our drinks and food at the bar and ate standing there as you do in Spain. Well the risotto was as amazing as the reviews said. It was rich and cheesy, made with Basque sheep’s milk. The orzo, which is little bits of pasta, was perfectly al dente. We could have ordered much more of the risotto. The pork rib was tender and juicy and had a sweet sauce on it. It was delicious but the risotto was the star. The drinks were refreshing. I love a tinto de verano much more than I like sangria.

Delicious!

While at the bar we struck up conversations with another Australian couple and a group from Singapore. The group from Singapore were 30 mins into their holiday in Spain and were driving to Barcelona when their tire got flat. Someone stopped to help them but while they thought they were being helped they were actually being robbed of all but one of their bags including all of their IDs. But they were happy and soldiering on and were still loving their holiday. An awesome attitude to have when something so inconvenient happened.

We left the bar with still plenty of time left in San Sebastián. I wanted to go to the viewpoint which was a 30 min walk uphill but Ronnie thought it wasn’t wise while I’m sick. We instead went and got a Bueno ice cream at the beach and chilled there until departure time.

Beautiful beach, too cold to swim

In the afternoon we were back on our bus traveling to Pamplona. We freshened up at the hotel before heading out for a walking tour of Pamplona and dinner of our choice. Our walking tour took us along the path of the running of the bulls. Even after the walking tour it’s not something I can understand. I wouldn’t and couldn’t ever take part in such a thing (couldn’t because women can’t take part unless they disguise themselves as men and if they are caught they are physically removed). The running of the bulls happens everyday over a 9 day festival. The run is 850 metres but when you get to the arena, if you make it, 6 smaller bulls are let out for 5 minutes each and you just have to run for your life around an arena. Later that night the bulls are killed. No thanks.

The start point for running of the bulls

We had a couple of hours for dinner which was too much time. It was raining and cold. We sat in a little pinxtos bar and had patata bravas, crumbed chicken and fried cheese and ham. Most of it was tasty except the cheese was a bit much. It was nice to sit down and relax for a while.

Nice bits of chicky

After this couple of hours in Pamplona we went back on the bus to our hotel. We are always thankful to visit new places because some people don’t get to do this kind of thing but we think we’ve seen pretty much all Pamplona has to offer and we probably wouldn’t return.

The next few days are looking to be some of the best yet and we can’t wait.

Itemised spending:

  • Water – €1
  • Pinxtos (first bar) – €12
  • Pinxtos (second bar) – €21
  • Buenos – €4
  • Magnets – €5
  • Pinxtos (Dinner) – €19
  • Lollies/more bueno – €6
  • Total: €68
  • Not bad, not bad at all.
  • Barcelona tomorrow!

    Ronnie and Aimee

    Very beach, very nice

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