When I saw the beach at the famous Playa de la Concha in San Sebastián for the first time, immediately a beach scene from a 1960s movie came into my head - complete with tanning women with their skulls caps and a lifeguard sitting perched up on the tall white chair. Not sure why this came into my head, but all the buildings/houses around the area seemed to be preserved in that era. Many travel books have written that San Sebastián (Donostia, as it is known in Basque), a summer capital of Spain, is here where the Belle Epoque (beautiful era) lives on.
One of the things I enjoyed was the proximity of a very urban development so close to the beach - as Lonely Planet says, it epitomizes what a city beach should be like. Not only is there a close urban development right next to the ocean but also tiny streets full of shops and small bars, where hidden away in the alleys you can stumble upon some of the best tapas(pintxos) in the world.
San Sebatian is a candidate for the European Capital of Culture, an award given to a city by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organizes a series of cultural events, used to promote tourism in the city and Europe in general. It is a highly prestigious award, along with it comes an opportunity for some economic development. For a person visiting, its like hitting the jackpot - because even though these cities are normally filled to the brim with cultural activities, after the designation it overflows with them. As of writing this, it has not been finalized, but once it is, make sure to plan ahead when going there. The hotels book up fast, and you'll need some good organizational skills to take in all the events. And if you want to relax and take a slower pace, that's OK, too - a brief walk about town, and you'll see its charm.
When we visited, one of focus points of the city was the Occupy Movement. Even though the The Occupy Movement of Wall Street got widespread media coverage, protests of this nature did not originate on Wall Street. The first of these were inspired by the Arab Spring and Spain. The Spanish Indignados movement started sometime in May 2011. By the end of the month, there were hundreds of camps in Madrid and other big cities. When we visited, the camps were in full force - they weren't as tense as they were in the US - from what we saw, it was a lot more calm and gentle - people hanging out and chilling, not unlike a hippie commune.
Join me as I go for a walk around town in the alleys and street, and discover some pintxos!