After our less than awesome experience in Madrid, we were a bit wary of our next destination but our concerns proved to be unfounded. We headed to a coastal town called San Sebastian. It was a lovely surprise. The town is very scenic with two large beach areas on each side of a river delta that the town is built around.
The town itself has very old architecture and is full of tapas restaurants and seafood restaurants.
The tapas restaurants were plentiful and offered such cheap food and vino that we spent most of our time eating and drinking. We noticed that it was quite a casual thing for the locals to drop in to the tapas haunts, visit for a few minutes while eating a quick stand up snack with a glass of wine and then be on their way.
When we weren't walking around gazing at the town, we were hanging around the beaches.
The beach areas of the town were crescent shaped around a large protected bay and they were pristine. It was great to bum around these gorgeous bits of sandy heaven.
It has to be said that while we were in San Sebastian, they were having a heat wave and one of the days we were there, it reached 46 degrees! The second day it reached 40 degrees...
A very interesting thing about San Sebastian is that it is in the Basque region of Spain. There seems to be quite a distinct sense of patriotism in this fact and many of the locals like to consider themselves separate from the rest of Spain. This was felt across the old and the young alike and we saw lots of separatist signs and notes to tourists stating "you're not in France, you're not in Spain, you're in Basque country!".
Some folks even went so far as to refuse us service a couple of times (in the form of completely ignoring us as we waited to be helped) and we could only conclude it was because we were fair and therefore made assumptions about our background. It was the first time we have ever felt discriminated against. It was a very insightful thing as we were so bitter about these small incidences and could only imagine what it must feel like on a much larger scale.
That said, most of the folks in San Sebastian were friendly and happy and it was a great place to spend a few days before heading into Portugal.