Snapshots From San Sebastián

San Sebastián La Concha Beach San Sebastián Port Window Spain Sunset San Sebastián Window Spain Cathedral San Sebastián San Sebastián Port Cathedral San Sebastián Cathedral San Sebastián Plaza de la Constitución San Sebastián Jamón San Sebastián Sailing San Sebastián La Concha San Sebastián San Sebastián Port San Sebastián boys fishing

As much as I loved parts about living in Andalucía, (near-daily sunshine, I’m looking at you!) I am so happy to be in The Basque Country. The food, the people, the natural beauty, the culture and getting to live close to San Sebastián all make my heart flutter. This city is so special to me, and if I save up a good chunk of an expat pension, perhaps I’ll buy property there one day and make my lil’ dream of living there come true.

San Sebastián captures the hearts of many of its visitors…so much, that hearing anything negative about the city rarely happens. Ok, maybe a gripe or two about its priceyness, but not much outside of that. It’s a comfortable size, so it’s not sprawling and overwhelming like Madrid (which I love as well!), it’s got that world-renowned food scene that you may have heard a thing or two about, and it’s a hop and a skip away from the French border.

San Sebastián has a long and varied history: what was once a quaint fishing village is now a world-class resort town, thanks to the Queen of Spain making this city her royal summer residence at the Miramar Palace overlooking La Concha Bay. It’s also set to be the European Capital of Culture, along with Wrocław, Poland in 2016.

And did I mention how beautiful it is?

San-Seb, as I affectionately call it, has those rolling, emerald-green hills so characteristic of Basque Country, no less than three(!) beaches, and architecture that rivals the streets of Paris; it’s streets are chock-full of Belle Époque buildings. 

Come for a weekend, and you’ll want to stay forever…don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 What do you love most about San Sebastián?

 Disclosure: This post, while written by me, was sponsored by a third-party.

Everything You Need to Know About El Txikiteo

pintxos-kalimotxos

Pintxos and kalimotxos in San Sebastián

It doesn’t take long after one’s arrival to Basque Country to discover that Basque culture is distinct from Spanish culture. This shouldn’t come as a shock, since historically, Basques and Spanish are different people–but you’ll still find the odd tourist wondering where they could see a flamenco show in Bilbao (not to say it’s not possible, it’s just not at all common like in Andalucía.) 

As I’m nearly 6 months into my new life in Basque Country, I’ve discovered a few cultural traditions that I didn’t experience down in Southern Spain, the first of which is El Txikiteo (also known as Poteo).

spanish-beer-and-wine

Spanish beer and wine

What is El Txikiteo?

El Txikiteo is the simple act of a group of friends (called a cuadrilla here) getting together to ir de pintxos from bar to bar while drinking small glasses of wine or cider (txikitos), or a small serving of beer (zurito). It’s bar-hopping at it’s finest; sampling delicious local wines and specialties of the region, catching up with friends and family, and getting to try out a varied selection of bars in the area. Since they say that The Basque Country has more bars and restaurants than many European Union countries have as a whole, there’s no shortage of  places to txikitear.

pintxos, tapas, basque country

Grab all the pintxos you want directly from the bar!

When Can You Txikitear?

El Txikiteo is for the midday and evening, from about noon-3pm and 7-11pm.

Deep-fried artichoke, wrapped in bacon.

Deep-fried artichoke, wrapped in bacon.

Where in Spain can you Txikitear?

El Txikiteo is mostly done in The Basque Country, Navarra, La Rioja, Cantabria and in the northern part of Burgos.

Why Txikitear?

El Txikiteo is a social institution that’s designed for friends and family to meet up outside of the home over sips and small bites, before a sit-down meal. While it’s origins are unclear, it’s certain that it was designed to relieve the stresses of daily life!

People off to txikitear in San Sebastián

People off to txikitear in San Sebastián

How to Txikitear

Meet with your friends in one of the many zonas de pintxos; located in every Basque city (and nearly every town too!) You’ll know you’ve found a good one when you see lots of bars packed into a small area, locals with drinks in hand and a bar that’s almost too busy to take your order. Almost.

Often, friends will elect one friend to be in charge of el bote–the money that everyone pools together to ir de pinchos. This guy or gal will be the one responsible for paying the group’s tab in each location.

Then, you’ll head straight to the bar, pluck whatever pintxos tickle your fancy straight off the bar itself, order yourself a txikito or zurito, and throw your napkins to the floor when done. Yes, really! In a few minutes be ready to repeat the process all over again in the next bar…and again, and again. Bar-hopping in Basque Country is fun, fast-paced and not for the faint of heart.

De pinchos en Plaza Nueva, Bilbao

De pinchos en Plaza Nueva, Bilbao

My favorite places to Txikitear:

Bilbao

  • Calle del Maestro García Rivero
  • Calle Licenciado Pozas
  • Plaza Nueva (in the Casco Viejo)
  • Calle Somera (also in the Casco Viejo)

San Sebastián

  • Calle 31 de Agosto
  • Calle Pescadería
  • Barrio de Gros
  • Anywhere in the Parte Vieja!

Vitoria

  • Calle Eduardo Dato
  • Plaza España

 

Springtime in Spain via Instagram

Zarautz

Getaria

Getaria

Zarautz

Zarautz

Zarautz

Springtime in Spain

Springtime in Spain

Springtime in Spain
Springtime in Spain

Bilbao Park

 Springtime here in Basque Country is slowly showing signs of itself: in rare days of sunshine, trees in bloom, and in the every-optimistic Basques not letting anything deter them from enjoying glasses of txakolí in the streets. I’m excited for the days to warm up and get a bit drier (fingers crossed or I’ll be booking flights to Tenerife!) so I can get out and explore more of my new home. Last week, I revisited Zarautz, home to my favorite Basque chef, Karlos Arguiñano, and went to a new Basque village named Getaria; famous for being the birthplace of Cristóbal Balenciaga as well as grilling the best fish this side of the Pyrenees.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

 
Disclosure: This post was written by me, and sponsored by a third party.