A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros


Pintxos and Clubbing in Donosti

Having been invited on a pintxo crawl of San Sebastián by the club, Dabadaba, and to steer the DJ booth for revellers to dance to their heart’s content, I set out some hours ahead of my session to find the best pintxos in town. I was lucky to have my friend, Borja, as my guide. Apart from being a local, as well as producing and DJ’ing good music, he knows the temples of those delicious dinky bites like the back of his hand. Here we go…

Evenings In the Thick Of It

Our tour began at Txepetxa, home of the anchovy, offering all kinds of pintxos featuring that small yet noble fish, accompanied by cream of spider crab, sea urchin, olive paté, foie gras, stewed apple or trout and salmon roe. Everything looked awesome, but I opted for a fresh anchovy classic. Great! We went for a stroll to La Concha and headed into Narru, in the basement of the historic Hotel Niza, with views over the bay which clearly ratchets up the experience of tasting their dishes, notably their luma gorri (chicken wing) with potato, smashed fried egg and alioli or the secreto ibérico ham. Stunning! We retraced our steps to the old town and went into Zazpi, where the young chef, Paul Arrillaga, doles out happiness from his fiery helm in the form of a spectacular “potato volcano”, a pintxo based on truffle, egg and potato or an exquisite ox-tail ravioli. A veritable banquet. We made our way to Dabadaba.

After opening in April 2014, the locale has been graced by the likes of Allah-Las, Sean Nicholas Savage, The Godfathers and Omar Souleyman, among others. On stage were The Space Lady, a pioneer of electronic music, with a staging as minimalist as it is breathtaking. They bewitched us completely and, when we came down to earth again, we were faced by Fernando Lagreca churning out his particular electronic brand as a matchless prelude to my own set. My turn came. I started with some new releases I have been DJ’ing recently, interspersing themes from Italo disco, acid and disco bizarro. Things perked up and Dabadaba ended up dancing in full swing. A great night – we had a smashing time. Then we hit the hay.

Saturday In Donosti Is No Ordinary Saturday

Rising early is a virtue, but doing so when you’ve been to bed late is untenable. So we headed straight off in search of pintxos. Again in the old town, I was taken to Paco Bueno, a spot I wouldn’t miss for anything. Offering a meagre four or five pintxos, notably shrimp dumpling, hake in batter, croquettes and pie, this is one of the city’s most crowded bars, opened in 1950 by a retired boxer. The business was later taken over by his son, a rugby player, as is his brother, Chufo, and his son, Gorka. A family concern with warm, family service, the bar walls crammed with pictures of boxing and the sport with a melon-shaped ball – what else would you expect? Still in the inner city, we made for Borda Berri, whose staff are shared by La Cuchara de San Telmo, another illustrious pintxo temple. The star dish is their “kebap”, a delicious pork ribs with an incongruous name which prompts veritable pilgrimages to taste it. Other dishes with the same fate include their cheek of beef, octopus and risotto de Idiazábal. Just opposite lies Txuleta, specialising in meat dishes, if you fancy that. The best thing then was to work off the meal by striking out and we ended up at the Club Náutico de Donosti, with the whole La Concha bay before us. The sun was blazing that day and this spot was divine. The upstairs floor houses GU, another club where you can dance house or techno, depending on the night. I made a point of visiting Tabakalera before I left.

On the verge of making its debut as the European Capital of Culture, with the San Sebastián International Film Festival and the San Sebastián Jazz Festival among its leading cultural draws, the city boasts a peerless interdisciplinary space known as La Tabakalera. This public International Contemporary Culture Centre focuses on promoting upcoming local creatives and hosts activities revolving primarily around research, production and exhibition. Their feature-film and documentary seasons, exhibitions and Hirkilabs spaces, their Digital and Technology Culture Lab and Ubik – Tabakalera Creation Library – make this one of Donosti’s liveliest and most avant-garde hubs. The premises have character, set in a building that was once the city’s tobacco factory. A city with character, too.

There you have it – there’s a lot more to San Sebastián than La Concha. Fancy discovering it? Check out our flights here.

Text and images by Luis Costa for ISABELYLUIS Comunicación


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Experience Donosti Through Sport

Each November San Sebastián hosts what for me is the best footrace on the national circuit, the Behobia-San Sebastián classic. It covers the 20 kilometres separating the Irunese town of Behobia on the French border from the capital. It is a veritable sports festival which this year chalked up its 51st edition, with some 30,000 runners signed up.

I took part in the race, but not on foot, as I chose to do it on skates. Indeed, it has a skating section and also features a Behobia Txiki version for children up to the age of 13. The latter takes place the day before the main event. There is also a much shortened version for teenagers from 14 to 18 years known as the Behobia Gaztea which covers the final 4.4 km of the main race. Lastly, organisers provide a Behobia for runners with disabilities; so, all in all, it caters for everyone. For the main event your physical preparation should be thorough and you must book your number and accommodation well in advance. The race itself includes continual climbs, so it can turn out to be really tough if you start out running above your rhythm.

More Than Just the Behobia-San Sebastián Classic

In my last London post I encouraged you to discover cities by running them. For an urban race in Donosti I would recommend the route of “the three beaches”. Starting at El Peine de los Vientos, Chillida’s sculpture at Ondarreta, you traverse the Paseo de La Concha as far as La Zurriola beach, crossing the Bulevar and the Kursaal bridge. The same route is also suitable for roller or inline skating.

But, apart from running through the city, San Sebastián also lends itself to interacting with its environment through such activities as these:

Surfing at La Zurriola. Zurriola beach, in the district of Gros, attracts foreigners all year around. The international atmosphere stems from the quality of its waves. There you will come across the friends of Pukas who have spent years promoting surfing in the Basque Country. They now also have a school in Barcelona. If you’re going to surf there for the first time, please place yourself in the hands of an instructor, as it is not an easy beach.

Kayaking and SUP at La Concha. You can hire equipment for kayaking and stand up paddling at the same facilities in Club Fortuna on La Concha beach. From there you can paddle carefully to the island of Santa Clara in Donosti’s old harbour. La Concha is noticeably calmer than La Zurriola and affords some spectacular views over the whole bay.

Swimming at La Concha. If you fancy open waters and have a wetsuit, you can extend your swimming season. La Concha is a calm beach, as long as you stay within the bay. There are changerooms with lockers where you can shower and leave your clothes. The lockers operate with a magnet key which is easy to wear while you are swimming.

Mountain biking or hiking in the monte Ulía.Anyone who has run the Behobia will recall (for better or for worse) the final climb known as the Alto de Miracruz, which comes after the final descent down Ategorrieta avenue. There, on the right, after passing the Arzak restaurant, is the climb up to Ulía. You can drive to the upper picnic area or walk up. The mountain is full of footpaths and tracks, so you can have a delightful time mountain biking, running or simply walking. At the very least, you will enjoy the views and the promenade leading to Pasajes de San Pedro and the Trintxerpe fishermen’s quarter.

If by chance the weather lets you down and you have to resort to indoor sport, you can use the gym at the Club Atlético San Sebastián for doing your gym routine (cycling, running, lifting) or, if you are looking for something different, go up to the Pabellón del Club Fortuna Pío Baroja to practise your skills on their climbing wall, using either a rope and safety harness (sports climb) or just climbing shoes. The hall is provided with safety mattresses for low-height climbing.

As you see, it is well worth coming to San Sebastián to do sport, even if you aren’t competing. However, if you have the urge to compete, take note of the following dates and events (in chronological order, after Behobia) and start booking your ticket at Vueling to enjoy them.

San Sebastián Marathon – end of November.
– the first week in March, coinciding with International Women’s Day. The race is open only to women.
Onditz Memorial Triathlon
– and women’s Triathlon in June.
La Concha Swim Crossing
– in September.
Cross de las tres playas
– in October.


Text by Raúl Casañas

Images by Iaona Manolache, Pello Sosoro


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Discover San Sebastián Brooklyn

Donostia-San Sebastián is a city in constant change. Perhaps its effervescence can partly be accounted for by the prevailing impetuous climate changes and, above all, by the ceaseless wind there. Coinciding with the forthcoming change of season, we recommend you visit this charming coastal city to delight in the chromatic variations of its bay – La Concha – or the crashing waves at Chillida’s Peine del Viento.

San Sebastián is currently abuzz with creative activity, now more heated than usual. The fact is that this city in Guipúzcoa will be Europe’s culture capital for the whole year, a title it shares with the city of Wrocław in Poland. Throughout 2016 there will be concerts, stage plays, talks, book presentations and a long list of miscellaneous cultural activities.

The Year’s Major Cultural Event

This is Donostia 2016, an event that does not set out to dazzle with great names on the international scene, or exorbitant investments in infrastructure. Instead, it is pioneering a new model based on experimentation, learning and developing close-knit audiences, with a view to the legacy all this will leave behind in the city as of 2017. That accounts for the programme being grounded in local tradition, albeit with an international projection.

The fact is that Donostia is no newcomer to organising events. Let’s not forget that for years the city has been hosting such long-standing festivals as Zinemaldi, the Musical Fortnight and Jazzaldi.

Activities of all kinds will be held throughout the year in various areas of the city. Like those billed to be staged in Cristina Enea Park. This beautiful park is the city’s largest and is located hard by the Estación del Norte. August will see the independent music festival, Glad is the Day, a tribute to Gladys, a local heroine among social movements. The Dabadaba and Le Bukowski clubs, in collaboration with San Sebastián 2016 and Tabakalera, will be hosting this project with the aim of putting the Egia district onto the map of the city’s summer cultural festivals. The daytime event is admission-free and will feature eight performances at two venues – Anari, Los Tiki Phantoms, Chiquita y Chatarra and The Saurs at the main venue; and AWWZ, Telmo Trenor, Kino Internacional and Javi P3Z at the electronic venue.

Donostia Goes Hipster

Modernity and culture go hand in hand in the Egia quarter. We embark on a tour of the area through some of its most emblematic spots.


Unveiled last September after 10 years of renovation. Tabakalera, a new, spectacular centre of international contemporary culture is housed in a former tobacco factory covering an area of 37,000 square metres. It consists of two exhibition halls, a cinema, an art media library, creation labs, a hotel for resident artists, micro-theatre shows, concerts, two cafés, a restaurant and a roof terrace with superb views of the city.

The Egia Quarter

The renewal of two venues, namely the Victoria Eugenia Theatre and the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturenea, belonging to the Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa (Guipúzcoa’s provincial administration), has helped shift the city’s hub to the other side of the Urumea. No wonder that this area is known as the Donostiarra Brooklyn, as it has become the city’s centre of modernity and culture.


Currently one of San Sebastián’s most active venues. Concerts, festivals, exhibitions, DJ sets, flea markets and screenings are hosted in Dabadaba, a multi-purpose centre. Apart from musical and cultural events, on weekday mornings it also offers breakfast, shakes and natural fruit juices. This venue is up with the latest trends, such as a revival of interest in beer – a varied and growing selection of commercial and craft beers are featured on its menu.

Le Bukowski

Le Bukowski is another major night-time meeting point in the Egia quarter. It might lack the sophistication of the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, or the modernity of Rafael Moneo’s Kursaal Auditorium. But, what does that matter if what you want is to listen to good rock or dance music? This is the yardstick club in Donostia, both for live and DJ music. It has been active for three decades and not for nothing is it as fresh as the day it first opened.


A space in the Egia quarter which has been operating as a multi-purpose venue since 1998. This year it will be hosting the Mojo Workin festival on 18 and 19 March, an event dedicated to rhythm and blues and soul which will be featuring international artists and DJs.

Donostia is always on duty for the traveller. Come and visit its trendiest quarter in a particularly exciting year. Check out our flights here.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Donostia 2016, Dabadaba

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Pau A Balcony Over the Pyrenees

The English discovered Pau in the mid-19th century, fell in love with its mild climate and turned it into one of their favourite summer resorts. This is borne out by the well preserved oldest golf course in Europe outside the United Kingdom. The capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département, well known as a city of art and history, offers visitors generous helpings of history, cuisine and fine wine, in addition to an adrenalin rush in the watersports available to all-comers at the Pau-Pyrénées Whitewater Stadium.

Pau – A City with History

The historic centre of Pau is distributed around its castle, the birthplace of Henry IV of France (and III of Navarre), known as "Good King Henry", France’s first king of the Bourbon dynasty. The hallmark of this castle is its architectural diversity and, like all national museums in France, admission is free every first Sunday of the month. Opposite the castle stands the Parliament of Navarre, set up in the mid-17th century after the edict of unification between France and the historical region of Bearn. It is now the seat of the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

The old town features a number of interesting sights, including such emblematic buildings as the Church of Saint-Martin and the Maison Sully, a 17th-century mansion. Touching its doorknocker is said to bring good luck, so you are advised to go through this ritual before leaving the city, just in case.

The Boulevard des Pyrénées – A Balcony Overlooking Nature

One of the landmark spots in Pau is the Boulevard des Pyrénées, designed as a replica of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It connects the castle to the Beaumont Palace and affords beautiful views of the mountain range separating France and Spain. A pastime very much in vogue among locals and, by extension, among many visitors too, is to sit at one of the terrace cafés and soak up the fabulous mountain views.

Several museums are open to sightseers in Pau, notably the Bernadotte House, the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a French general who ascended to the throne of Sweden, and the Fine Arts Museum, which houses a collection of paintings by Victor Galos, as well as works by local artists and even Degas and Rubens.

Cuisine and Sports in Pau

Pyrenean cuisine, with its standout local sausage and tasty cheeses, is another of the major attractions in the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. One highly popular dish is poule au pot (casseroled chicken), an icon of traditional Bearnese cuisine. Prominent among local wines is Jurançon, which comes in two flavours – dry and sweet. Lastly, to burn up the calories ingested, watersports come highly recommended, notably rafting and hydrospeed. And, they can both be done at the nearby white-water stadium which in 2017 will be hosting the Canoe World Championships.

Be sure to visit this beautiful city – book your flight here.

Text and images by Tus Destinos

Images by Jean Jacques BROCHARD, Alban GILBERT

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