Recap Thirty-One Days In
It’s been another nine days since our last recap, and I thought it might be worth talking about what we’ve been doing since leaving Biarritz, France, the location of our last recap. Today, we write to you from Málaga, Spain, where we’ve spent the last five days. After a real whirlwind for the first three weeks of our trip, Charley and I decided it would be helpful for our sanity to slow things down a bit.
June 1: You may recall we spent a couple days in Biarritz, France, shortly after leaving the British Isles. Biarritz was really lovely, and as a sleepy sea port, it had the feel of a nice resort town, and the population’s demographics bore that out. While there were plenty of young people around, the city definitely felt like it belonged to the throngs of retirees there, who decided it would be a nice place to call their own. We loved how casually fluent so many people seemed to be in English, French, and Spanish, and we really loved the “tapas” dining culture, where you’re expected to go restaurant hopping and have a few small dishes and maybe a glass of wine at each stop.
June 3: Friday, June 3 was a fun day for our trip. It was the first day we took a bus between cities! Moreover, we got to take a bus between countries. Given how open the borders are in the European Union (though if you want to get into the nitty-gritty, we’re talking about the Schengen Area here, which includes some countries not in the EU), it wasn’t much of a big deal at all. We found the location of the bus pickup in Biarritz, climbed aboard and paid the driver 7 Euros per person, and we were on our way to San Sebastián, Spain!
It’s important to point out that San Sebastián is actually part of the autonomous Basque Country of northern Spain, which is subject to Spanish law but whose residents are very proud of their autonomy. There is a Basque language distinct from Spanish (which refers to the city as Donostia) spoken by locals, though everyone we met was casually fluent in Spanish as well. We did make the mistake of telling a local how much we loved Spain, to which we got a polite but pointed, “You mean Basque Country?” The Basque Country is incredibly proud of their development of tapas culture, which are locally called “pintxos” and make up the majority of the culinary experience in Donostia.
San Sebastián is a really beautiful seaside port, and if you’re a traveler with a bigger budget, it’s worth pointing out they have the highest concentration of Michelin stars in the world. We didn’t splurge enough to try any of them, but we’re keeping it in mind if we find ourselves here in the future!
It may be hard to believe if you know us, but we also visited a couple attractions in San Sebastián other than food. Their aquarium may be the best we’ve ever visited, and they have an old amusement park on a hill called Monte Igeldo that has basically been abandoned but still all functions. The eeriness of it is pretty surreal.
June 6: After a few days in San Sebastian, we took a short flight south, this time to Málaga, the gateway to the Costa del Sol region. We really gave ourselves some breathing room here, taking a full six days to relax in the apartment we rented here. It’s been nice to have a more casual pace as we wake up, spend a couple hours to go see a museum or historical site and then come back to the apartment to relax. It’s also given us the chance to save a little money by cooking a few of our meals. One note, though: Spanish mealtimes are late. It’s been an awkward adjustment that some restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 8:30PM, and frequently won’t have anyone in the door for an hour after that! If we have lunch at noon or 1PM like I’m used to, that leaves us a complete afternoon to tide ourselves over on munchies before anyone’s ready for dinner!
Tomorrow will be a first for both of us: we’re taking a boat to Morocco. It’s so amazing that a ferry exists that can travel between continents, and even more amazing that the ride is only an hour. We’ll let you know how it goes!