We were married on 13 March 1993, so last weekend we hopped on the TGV to Hendaye. There was a church officers' meeting at our home on Friday evening so we took the 9am TGV from Bordeaux.
Hendaye is a border town just south of here. The TGV gets there in about two and a half hours. We get cheaper tickets because of our age (codger cards) and when I booked the tickets it cost perhaps 3 euros more to travel first class, so we did.
At Hendaye you change to the Euskotren which goes from a station about 100 yards away. I wasn't sure what kind of ticket we needed and there wasn't a lot of information displayed but a friendly lady came up to help us. Our singles to España cost 2,75€ each Then off to San Sebastián in the Basque country.
We had booked into a guest house which we found on AirBnB but which was cheaper if you booked directly at their own website. It was near the main beach, a decent-sized bedroom with a kettle and cups and a very small bathroom attached. On the way we found a café that was serving lunch and ate a copious set menu that put us off eating anything more that day!
In San Sebastián we walked lots, including around the new town where the chain shops are, around one of the hills where the huge waves drenched us with surf while I was busy giving someone directions to church. I didn't scream, yell or lose my sang-froid. We rode the rickety funicular railway up to the not-yet-opened amusement park, but great for the views out over the city. We explored to our hearts' content. And we ate Basque food.
In one bar near the funicular railway the proprietor was speaking Basque to several of his customers and we ate hearty bocadillos and drank Spanish cider (it's 1,50 a glass but only 5€ for the bottle, said the proprietor) while a group of seriously elderly people at a table alongside chomped away on various pintxos and laughed at the folly of our youthful leaders.
Pintxos. On previous expeditions to San Sebastián pintos had not figured At all. Once we went in a rainy, bleak November and another time Pat went with a friend who is vegan, so this trip we wanted to tackle them. The old town is stuffed with bars and we ventured in on Saturday evening. It was fiesta time. Everywhere was absolutely stuffed with people laughing, shouting, singing and dancing in the street. We were not sure we were quite ready to shove ourselves into the festive throng, and we were still full from lunch, so we found something to drink in a quiet place and went back to our room.
Sunday was a different story. We had spotted one quiet bar on a quiet street in a quiet corner of the old town, so after online church we ventured out to find our pintxos. We reckoned that if we went early we'd be OK. By the way, my Spanish is now seriously lousy and I'd had no time to revise. I understand pretty well anything anyone says to me, but answering is another matter, I mix up "here" and "there", and don't ask me to conjugate verbs, though 2nd form Latin still seems to work...
The classic is called La Gilda - named after the heroine of a 1940s film, It consists of a skewer dressed with an olive, and anchovy fillet that encircles three small pickled green peppers and finished with another olive.
Others come on toasted slices of baguette, and feature tuna, anchovies and shellfish, as well as little lamb cutlets and cheek of beef, stewed slowly in rich gravy. It's all quite delicious and cheaply priced as long as you don't get carried away. Also we slipped up one time and ordered dessert. Big mistake! It was expensive and ordinary.
San Sebastián was full of French people and we chatted with them about the city and the food we were all eating and how we could do them back in France for apéros dînatoires. We got chatting with an American guy who works all over the world by didn't want to tell us what he did, just as you'd expect from an international hired assassin.