San Sebastian/Donostia, the city of the Basque country

One of the most lively cities in Spain, rich in Basque tradition and close to the French border;you cant ask for more. The city is well connected to Madrid and Barcelona as well as Paris. Capital city of the province of Gipuzkoa. From the 1914 it was built up following Haussmanian architecture as in Paris.

The railroad station was done in 1864 inspired by Gustave Eiffel, and the city grew out into the neighborhood of Zurriola, now a nice beach area. You have the old section or Parte Vieja wedge between the harbor and the river Urumea ,the area was rebuilt from 1813 after a fire previously devasted it. Here you find the center of the city and people watching in the Plaza de la Constitucion, the church of Santa Maria del Coro (great info in Spanish webpage here http://www.ingeba.org/argazkia/arkit/smaria.htm ) , and the Monte Urgull or hill with a Christ on top plus the ruins of the castle Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota. ON the beaches side you start from Monte Igueldo to the beach or playa de Ondarreta, very fashionable , to the more popular Playa de la Concha, and between them the palace or Palacio Miramar built in 1889 ,the summer residence of queen Maria Cristina. Finally reaching the aforemention beach or Playa de la Zurriola looking up the third hill in the city that of Monte Ulia.

How to get there is best from major cities by air to the San Sebastian airport, about 20 kms from the city. bus company Interbus 1I takes you there and back regularly from Plaza de Gipuzkoa. Several bus companies does the run, the best is the central bus system Movelia at www.Movelia.es . By train from the Estacion del Norte at Paseo de  Francia, use the webpage for the train system in Spain RENFE at http://www.renfe.com/ and for local transport and into France at Hendaye, use the local basque system Euskotrain from train station estacion de Amara  at Plaza Easo,  webpage http://www.euskotren.es/ .By road, take the N-1 from Madrid dir Irun or from Paris take the A10/ A63 direction Irun.Parkings in the city best at Zurriola beach, Parking Txofre at Segundo Izpizua,26.underground and safe close to all on foot.

Some of the sights to see here are, the Museo de San Telmo at plaza Zuloaga, a large museum in a former monastery underneath Monte Urgull. It has many basques tombstones from as far as the 15C with items typical of the area including paintings by famous basques from old to the newer Ignacio Zuloaga. Even thus the museum is now closed for renovation its worth keepin an eye on it to visit when reopen, its great. webpage http://www.museosantelmo.com/eng/informacion.php?op=1&active=1

Palacio del Mar, paseo del muelle, 34, basque architectural design to house the aquarium opening in 1828 as the headquarters of the Guipuzcoa Oceanographic Society. It has an unique collection of marine life from the local waters. webpage http://www.aquariumss.com/

Monte Igualdo, has an attraction park at the top built in 1912,with all rides and sights. There is a cable car 1,90€ roundtrip for adult. Monte Urgull ,has a lot more such as the aforemention aquarium, the Bateria de las Damas as it was an old fort with cannons, Bateria Gobernador with a children section in its old cannons grounds, the aforementioned Castillo de la Mota built in the 12C now in ruins but still parts of it visible. The English cementary or Cementerio de los Ingleses in honor of these soldiers who died helping Spain in 1813 from Napoleon’s troops. Church of San Vicente, one of the oldest in town, Club Nautico, or Yacht club, the Museo Naval or Navy museum,. You have the Plaza de la Constitucion, as built in 1722 it was a former bullfight arena, city hall, and library, now its the center of it all. Plaza de la Trinidad, where the famous international film festival takes center stage.

Casino Kursaal, yes a real casino by the main artery Boulevard, at the old section of town for a bit of luck and some relaxing time. Really for adults only. webpage http://www.casinokursaal.com/es/

Kutxa espacio de la ciencia, a Science museum just outside the city, with a planetarium, admission for adults is 7€, you get there from city center bus 35. webpage http://www.kutxaespacio.es/

The famous International Film Festival is a happening needs reservation well in advance but once to it you will be back, its a happening in the city, I yearned to go back again, last was there alone in 2005. webpage http://www.sansebastianfestival.com/index2.html

The people seeing is best off Boulevard the grand artery along the bay, this gets you into many side streets of old world treasures and shops, plus great restos and bar, walking is a must here, you will see more. However, if you insist then take the buses, the city main bus webpage Dbus is here in English. http://www.dbus.es/en

For shopping you can do some along Boulevard to calle Legazpi left or at Calle Mayor right or a bit before left on Garibai Kalea street. By plaza de Gipuzcoa do not forget to have a mouthful of Basque pastries at the bakery Barrenetxe ,webpage here http://www.barrenetxe.net/ On a side street you have Boutique Cristina for the latest ready to wear fashion for women with a local flavor , webpage http://www.boutiquecristina.com/index.html

For all the jewerly you can muster at local prices see Joyeria Olazabal, near the city hall building  and boulevard cant missed it  . webpage http://www.joyeriaolazabal.com/  Just by Playa Undarreta try the delices of goodies and wines etc of Lukas , great for take home or hotel webpage http://www.lukasgourmet.com/  and not to be outdone off our stay in Zurriola in the district of Gros you have La Casa del Jamon, iberian hams at its best! webpage http://www.lacasadeljamon.info/

for a drink try El Bule at Boulevard, great ambiance, and good service, for Pintxos or basque style tapas ,there are all over!!! My favorites over the years are , Casa Alcalde in the old section at calle mayor near pl de la constitucion, the webpage is here http://www.infobidecomunicacion.com/casaalcalde/ . Another good one is Bernardo Etxea, by the sport/fishing club near playa de la Concha, webpage http://www.bernardoetxea.com/ . Restaurante Kixki in my area of Zurriola district Gros, near my parking, located at Calle Segundino Esnaola;26. great selection of wines and pintxos, webpage http://www.restaurantekixki.net/, and Juanito Kujoa, sublime cellars type resto, great service,and excellent seafood ,doing it good since 1947 at Calle Puerto,14 toward the fishing port from plaza de la constitucion, webpage http://www.juanitokojua.com/

For a stay, we have friends to stay with in Zurriola beach area, but we did have stay once at Hotel Niza, very clean nice friendly service, affordable for a family too. Near Playa de la Concha so very central too. Webpage http://www.hotelniza.com/

Two building that is worth mentioning to step inside at least is the Hotel Maria Cristina ,the regent queen of Alfonso XII, webpage http://www.hotel-mariacristina.com/en/  And the other being the Theater Victoria Eugenia, from 1912 it has carried the artistic expression of the city and its beautiful inside as outside, webpage http://www.victoriaeugenia.com/teatro/conoce_teatro.php?idioma=en

The webpage for the tourist office in English is http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/taxo.nsf/fwHomeCanal?ReadForm&idioma=ing&id=T&doc=Canal#0

The tourist page for the Basque country in Spain, http://www.turismoa.euskadi.net/s11-18805/en/

Hope it helps discover this wonderful city, that I would love to visit again.

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