Donostia San Sebastian is at the heart of Ernest Hemingway’s highly-praised novel “The Sun Also Rises”. It is a city in which he found many of the things that he sought throughout his life and which he enjoyed in the company of his friends. In a similar way, the experiences of the characters in the novel take place in the region of Gipuzkoa and include a coast featuring the Bay of Txingudi and the discovery that the borders become blurred between Hondarribia, Hendaia and Irun and come together towards Bayonne and Pamplona-Iruña.
Now lets get to the point of Basque’s most exciting region, the Gipuzkoa (gee-POO-skoh-ə) a province of Spain and a historical territory of the autonomous community of the Basque Country. Its capital city is Donostia-San Sebastián. Gipuzkoa shares borders with the French department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques at the northeast, with the province and autonomous community of Navarre at east, Biscay at west, Álava at southwest and the Bay of Biscay to its north. It is located at the easternmost extreme of the Cantabric Sea, in the Bay of Biscay and it has 66 kilometres of coast land.
With a total area of 1,980 square kilometres Gipuzkoa is the smallest province of Spain. The province has 89 municipalities and a population of 720,592 inhabitants from which more than half live in the Donostia-San Sebastián metropolitan area. Apart from the capital, other important cities are Irun, Errenteria, Zarautz, Mondragón, Eibar, Hondarribia, Oñati, Tolosa, Beasain and Pasaia.
Travel to San Sebastian is a question of the time of year and in the winter it is often rainy and cold like many cities in Northern Europe. The seas of the Atlantic and the winds mixed with the clouds and rain can be intense, so if you travel there be sure to dress warm and expect the weather changes from second to second.
The early morning clouds and hail, yet the sun is shinning now wasn’t unusual, and in the summer humid and hot cooled by the winds from the Atlantic as they breeze through your hair. The crowds are plentiful, making it feel more stressful, and throughout Europe in the summer most nice places are filled with tourists. But in the off season or at the beginning, or at the end of a season you can expect more moderate temperatures and less people.
Most people don’t come for the climate when visiting San Sebastian, the opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine attracts people from all over the world. The Basque is considered as influential as any other region in Spain, and no doubt the culinary masters of Arzak and Mugaritz have laid their foundations.
San Sebastian is as star-studded as a city can get with the most Michelin stars per capita, this region occupies a special place for avant-garde cuisine. A total of nine restaurants and 16 Michelin stars have converted the region into a gastronomic Mecca. Aduriz, Arbelaitz, Arzak, Berasategui and Subijana are some of the culinary experts.
But we travel here for the Asador, the pit grilling the Txuleta (the steak-chop) it is incredible, we never get bored of eating the beef, or the turbot. This is the symbol of Basque Country and if you go to most Asador the food is purely a symbol of the food we adore.
In the Basque country cows are milk cows, after 10-years slaughtered and served in many of the best restaurants. The beef most would think is tough and it isn’t, instead tasty and fatty and more healthy as the cow has lived well.
But for those who are not meat eaters, in San Sebastian and when I refer to San Sebastian, I include the areas surrounding the city itself and within a 50+ kilometre range. This is where you’ll find the very best fish and meats and no doubt tomatoes, onions, red. peppers or for the matter whatever your heart desires. Experts who dedicate their life to the family business and compromise is not in their vocabulary.
The Basque Country is a very fertile land and some of the ancient techniques are still used when growing produce. This means plenty of organically produced fruits and vegetables that have been locally grown for those who have an organic mindset.
The construction of San Martin farmers market began in late 19th century, and since then, the building and the purpose of the market itself has been through a process of actualization and modernization that has allowed it to keep up with the wants and needs of the Basque society.
One of the oldest markets in Spain is the Ordizia farmers market has been held every Wednesday since 1512.
Ordizia: a famous for its weekly market, is set in the historical territory of Gipuzkoa within the Goierri region. Ordizia is the main town in the Goierri region along with Beasain, and it is strategically located close to the N-1 that connects Gipuzkoa, Alava and Navarre.
Zarautz market:from Monday to Friday 08:15 – 13:15 / 17:00 – 20:15 Saturdays 08:00 – 13:30.
Address: Kale Nagusia 27
There are plenty of good restaurants out of the obvious and here are some on my list to try:
And for those who are keen to cross the border into France Bayonne you can try: https://chezmartin-restaurant.com and I heard it is excellent. Remember, in this territory the food in general is excellent and it is divided the gastronomical types, the micro-mini touch. of a chef or the wonderful hand of the more common Asador.
Gipuzkoa is a gastronomic paradise full of highly recommendable places to eat exquisitely grilled bone-in ribeye steaks and fish. Simply hearing the crackle of the fat melting into the fire is a fine coral symphony which sees the most demanding of palates give in to quality and pleasure. And let’s not even mention rare, medium rare or well done. Everyone has their own taste and there’s no question of setting rules or anything of the sort.
The coast, particularly places like Orio, Zumaia or Getaria, are enormously recommendable to experience.
a fine grilled fish, whether it’s bream, turbot or other species. Grilled fish is not a whim or a fashion. It’s almost a religion, a way of understanding and cooking a product dating back hundreds of years, using a technique which, though virtually unchanged, has been vastly improved.
In inland Gipuzkoa, the grill gives in to the pleasure of meat. The finest palates say that the quality of the meat is proven on the grill. A good bone-in ribeye steak, served alone or with fine peppers, during the cider period or at any time of the year is an excellent advertisement for the magnificent work and prestige of our cuisine and its expert hands.
We cannot forgot the Pintxos a food in the heart if all Basque and while we are not the type to stand and eat surrounded by vulture tourists, we do enjoy the Asador for a good hearty experience. However we do have a few we tried and enjoyed and esp[ecially in Tolosa Ama, a fantastic small bar with excellent food, or Antonio in San Sebastian, a very easy going counter, or a more gastronomical table in the basement. I stick to the counter where you eat the real deal.
The gastronomical route according to the tourist board: https://tourism.euskadi.eus/en/routes/the-basque-route/aa30-12379/en/
Anyway there are few places we’ve travelled where you find genuine down to earth people and foods, so enjoy the region Gipuzkoa, it is marvellous.👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻