Monday, 14 October 2013

San Sebastian, Spain: Pintxos, Hiking & Estudiando Español

I arrived in San Sebastian with a one night booking in a hostel followed by 4 weeks in a shared flat. I knew almost nothing about San Sebastian (aka Donostia in Basque, officially Donostia-San Sebastian) before arriving. It didn't take very long to realise I was in possibly the most beautiful city I've ever seen. It has a beautiful and busy old town, amazing beaches and mountains. Plus literally hundreds of bars lining the streets.

My first night was in one of the smallest, cleanest and friendliest hostels I've ever stayed in, Pension Goiko. Since I was going to be staying in SS for long time the girl working there turned my map into a mural. That night I went out with an Australian couple we had many pintxos, kalimotxos, sangrias and beers.

The next day I arrived at my flat not knowing any details. I was greeted by my 4 housemates, a Spanish guy, a Spanish girl and 2 Polish girls. My room was simple but perfect. The highlight  was having my own clothesline through my window. Everyone else had to use the clothes horses. I was always worried about dropping my underpants on someone else's line.

The next day I started school at El Aula Azul (The Blue Classroom). I was welcomed by two awesome ladies, Silvia and Ester (my teacher). The deal was 1.5 hours of 1 on 1 class a day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks. I commenced as a complete beginner. The class structure allowed me to deviate from the planned lesson and steer the conversation. I remember one day my homework was to describe my entire kitchen in Australia. I provided a photo for comparison... The photo contained 2 ex-girlfriends in my kitchen together. I learnt some very interesting Spanish that day! La conversación en español fue muy interesante ese día!

Ester, mi profesora
I spent my first few days getting used to Spanish life, walking around and studying. I also got back into the habit of daily running.

Thursday came which is Pintxo Pote, 2 Euro for a beer and a pintxo. This was the start of a 5 night bender. I had different arranged meet ups every night mostly with Spanish tourists and a lot of international tourists but not many locals. The film festival was on so the streets were packed.

On Monday I promised no more drinking until the next Pintxo Pote. That weekend I met up with 2 Germans and 2 Mexicans to go on a 25 km hike across the beautiful coastline to the French border. the landscape was amazing. After 9.5 hours of walking up and down mountains and swimming we arrived at the border town.

After the weekend it was back to class. I had also found a language exchange partner to meet with everyday for 1.5 hours for 2 weeks. I wasn't sure what to expect committing so much time to someone I had never met. My exchange partner, Amaiur, turned out to be one of my best meets in SS. She was studying at the highest level of English in another school so the help I gave was a lot more technical than the help I received. Study was actually fun. She also took me to dance Cuban Salsa and introduced me to the incredibly fun game of Padel (tennis with a wall around the court). It was so good to play real sport again.


At the end of my 3rd week an old friend came to San Sebastian... Miren, my host from Rennes. San Sebastian is her home town. We went to the beach, Pintxo bars and a place with the best hot chocolate I've had in my life (chocolate caliente). It's always good to see old friends even if they are relatively new.

in Pintxo bars it's normal to throw your rubbish on the floor

After 3.5 weeks I became a local and a tour guide.
Me giving a tour
Sadly it was time to leave San Sebastian. In my 4 weeks I met a ridiculous amount of people, ate the most amazing food, could hold a basic conversation in Spanish and had an unbelievable amount of fun... next stop Bilbao!

Lessons Learnt:
How to play Padel
Spain has Ratoncito Perez instead of the Toothfairy
You can't notice the financial crisis in Basque Country
Spanish in Latin America is different to Spain
Yo hablo español basico!

The school I attended really was excellent and fun. For 4 weeks of class plus great accommodation it was 1025 Euro for 4 weeks. That is a cheap holiday option plus you learn a new language.


  1. ¡Hola Trent!
    Muchas gracias por tus comentarios. Te echamos de menos por aquí... We miss you here!! How is your adventure around the world? We hope you are fine and practicing a lot of Spanish!!
    We will read you!
    Un abrazo muy fuerte de Ester y todo El Aula Azul!!

    1. I miss you guys too! An English guy was asking for language in SS for a couple of months mid next year. I gave him the school's details. Hopefully he chooses correctly.