It was my last day in San Sebastián, and I had deliberately booked a bus ride to Bilbao in the later afternoon so I could use up the day as best I could. I banged out my MPC workout in the morning (gotta say, running along a seaside boardwalk makes for a much nicer run than a treadmill at my local gym, unsurprisingly) and headed out to climb the nearby Monte Urgull. As my hotel was so close to the beach, it was a relatively short walk past the aquarium to the path up the hill. Even though it was only morning, the temperatures were already on the rise, but the shaded paths made for a peaceful climb, a welcome respite from the heat (and other people, for that matter).
I stopped at various breaks in the trees to admire the impressive views of Playa de la Concha and the hills beyond the city. There were a few steep flights of steps, but I eventually made it to the walls of Castillo de la Mota, a reflecting the hill’s history as a defense point. I wandered through the old stronghold and up a steep flight of steps to the top to some commanding views of the city–views I shared with a 12 metre statue of Christ towering above me.
I walked down the other side of the hill to even more stunning ocean views. There were even fewer people on this side, so I simply enjoyed the tall, spindly trees and rich blue colours, from ocean to sky. It was like magic (or good planning on my part) that I came off the hill and into old town right at one of my favourite pinxto spots, Atari. So naturally, I quenched my thirst with a couple glasses of txakoli and some delicious pinxtos.
Still, feeling a bit nibbly, I thought I’d pop into La Cuchara de San Telmo, where I’d eaten the previous evening, and stand at the bar for some pinxtos. Unlike the crazy crush of people that I’d seen the night before, the bar was relatively empty, so I sidled up and ordered a foie gras and cuttlefish ravioli. The food was as delicious as the day before, even in pinxto format.
I gradually waddled my way back to my hotel and killed some time sifting through photos and catching up on emails. I grabbed a cab to the bus station, and it wasn’t long before I was trundling along to Bilbao, where I’d be conferencing and working (ha! the point of the whole trip) for several days. As I’d spent a night in Bilbao previously, I had at least worked out the metro and where the relevant stops were, so it was relatively easy for me to find my way to my new AirBnB apartment. My friendly host kindly hauled my luggage up four flights of stairs for me and introduced me to the apartment, a beautifully-decorated haven outfitted with everything I’d need. A perfect spot to unwind after a long day of conferencing.