San Sebastian, Segovia, and Valley of the Fallen – Spain

Between Madrid and San Sebastián, we stopped off at the Valley of the Fallen. It has Europee largest free standing cross of 150m in height standing atop the mountain where a cathedral is carved into the mountainside. It is dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the valley, but some locals don’t like the monument as they believe only the fascist side of the war is honoured. We could not take photos inside, but it was beautiful. The tapestries were exquisite, and slightly strange in their depiction of events, with angels killing men, and devilish beasts being tamed by humans which aren’t commonly seen in religious tapestry work.

We left there and headed to Segovia which is known as the city of ladies, as it is apparently too beautiful for men to have designed. It has the 2nd largest Aqua duct in Europe still standing and a gorgeous cathedral. We had tapas and ice cream for lunch before we continued on to San Sebastián.

In San Sebastián, our hostel was in the old district, surrounded by shops, Pinxtos bars, and clubs. Pinxtos are the local way of doing Tapas and are assorted finger food type delicacies that are laid out like a buffet type spread on the bar. You pay for a Pinxtos and a drink, often stand to consume it, and move on to the next bar.

We had a group dinner again for the first night in San Seb and went on a walking tour on our way to dinner. We saw the sun beginning to set over the beach, beautiful old buildings, and a shifty kid who followed us for much of the walk (we assume he was trying to work up the courage to pick pocket us but we all kept our eyes on him and looked out for each other). We went for dinner in the Cideria (cider house). They have huge vats of cider which tastes more bitter and less bubbly than the usual ciders you buy. You pour it yourself and only pour a couple of inches into the glass. As you pour you need to move your glass as far downstream as you can so it gets air, which disappears quickly which is why you only pour 1/3 of a glass at a time. I actually really liked the cider which I wasn’t expecting as I don’t like normal cider. After a few ciders and another late dinner, we went to the bar under our hostel for a few drinks. We got a free shot of tequila with every drink we ordered, so the night got messy very quickly. We bar hopped along the bars and clubs in our street. I left after the 3rd bar as the others moved onto the next one, and passed out back at home in bed.

The next morning wasn’t pretty and I had a lovely hangover thanks to cider, baileys, and too many tequilas. I showered and gave up on doing anything and went back to bed. I finally managed to make it out around lunch time and got some food. Being hung over and starving I ordered two meals, and barely touched either one of them although I expected to devour the lot at the time of ordering!

After lunch I got ready for the beach and went to my surf lesson. 5 of us had a lesson and another couple went out on their own as experienced surfers. As I’m so short, the wetsuit they gave me was for kids up to 14yrs old but it was too tight. I told them it was a little too small and they said it would be fine.

It wasn’t fine and by the time I took my board to the beach and practiced paddling and standing on the board, I split a hole in the bum of the wetsuit. It was so tight it made it difficult to move freely so standing on the board was restrictive, but I managed to surf one wave upright, and many others half upright or standing for a short time before falling into the water. It was a great afternoon though and we were out for a couple of hours. We had heaps of fun and so far it’s been a highlight of my trip.

After freshening up with a shower I headed out for some Pinxtos but had to get to 4 bars before there were any that I could eat (most were on bread or crumbed, or red meat) but at the 4th bar I found 3 I could eat, so I grabbed all 3 and ate that as my dinner. I did a little shopping and then met up with some others while they had a sangria and I had a water! I called bed early but by the time I sorted out my suitcase and chatted with my roommates, it was midnight and the party in the street below us was kicking into gear. Men chanted Spanish in the streets which went on till around 5am, and meant for a very restless night. The general party chit chat, laughter, music and sound of broken glass was okay but the chanting was enough to keep me awake for most of the night. So the hostel is great for location if you want to party, but not if you want to sleep!

The next morning we had an early rise for departure to Barcelona, and walking to breakfast at 7, then the bus at 7.30, we walked past stragglers stumbling home, and trash lining the streets everywhere. The street sweepers were starting but glasses and bottles got stuck in the wheels of people’s suitcases so we had to watch where we walked.
San Seb was a sleepy beach town with a lot of charm through the day, and a party town at night, and despite my lack of sleep, I loved my time here.

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