A love letter for San Sebastian…

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Spain - San Sebastian | Posted on 03-05-2010

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“Take a little, but take it often”

You were still sleeping when I woke, but I couldn’t leave your side without leaving a few inspired words I hope will make our parting less difficult.

I cannot believe it was but a week ago that I didn’t even know your name – to think back upon a time without knowing of you feels like a life only half lived. The initial attraction and connection I felt for you was immediately undeniable: your sensual scenery, your seductive opalescent seas staring back with a hint of tempetous froth, that vibrant soul which fills those around you with such joy they literally burst into song as they overflow with your beauty. And this longing was not one sided – I knew immediately that the experience of your years beyond mine had instilled in you the a shared set of motivations and base desires: sense of community, enjoyment of the finer things, respect for unique spirit, the relaxed pace of a life fully lived, and smiles that come from deep within the heart.

Although we fell into each other for but a week, it will be one that will stay with me forever:

I will never forget the sound of the white sand crunching underneath us as we settled into long hot afternoons on the beach, with the ancient stone pillared causeway braced behind us and surrounded by the smiles of families across generations playing and sharing in the sun and surf.

I will never forget the fine food I was blessed with in your company that take simple eating to a social artform, especially your family’s traditional pintxos which might just be the most civilized and evolved way of enjoying a meal and good company. Long in my soul will linger the songs from Monday nights’ chance encounter when the insanely (and refinedly!) inebriated old men shut the bar door and burst into basque song, belting out local anthems with the locals and inviting us to sing and dance with them. Afternoon lunches with bottles of wine and seafood caught that morning, unprecedentedly delicious 3 hour dinners surrounded by friends, and the absolutely unforgettable feeling from our night at the cider-house that could never ever come close to being done justice with mere words or images.

We surfed, we danced past sunrise on the beach, we stood at the feet of Jesus. We slept in together, we stayed up late under the full moon, and every afternoon we would curl up for a few hours of siesta time to ourselves. Every day together felt like two, and in this brief time you taught me the secret of doubling my life and not suffering from the fate of feeling rushed or short of time: stretch it thin, and you will be as well, but make the most of the the time given to you and you will receive the gift of more.

We both knew though that we could not last, that I had another city in my life to who’s waiting arms I needed to return at the end of the week. Some might say it was from this limited time affair that our time together ran so deep and our bond so strong, but we both know how real it was, and even though we’re not together, we’ll stay forever smiling in each other’s heart.

I return now to home, with faint hope though not an expectation that we’ll meet again, but i say wholeheartedly that my life is better for having been in your presence, and your beauty, spirit and joie de vivre will never be forgotten.

Let me kiss the salt on your white sand hand this one last time before I sail forth from your shelter and warmth, and disappear to the west, back over the horizon…

Hello and goodbye my sweet San Sebastian.

Santiago-going-gone…

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, Spain - San Sebastian, Spain - Santiago de Compostela | Posted on 25-04-2010

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[Note – pix to follow – USB cable in checked baggage… doht]

Currently on an 11 hour train ride from Santiago de Compostela, along the north coast of Spain towards the final city this trip: San Sebastian.

Had a pretty fantastic week in Santiago though… The weather was nasty a few days which I took to lock myself indoors and catch up on work, but luckily the nice ones overlapped with Chris’ days off so we got to wander the city by day and go out at night.

Santiago’s centred around this massive stunning cathedral in the centre of town that’s unlike any other ones I’ve seen – it’s stone, but instead of looking carved from the earth, it looks like it’s of the earth itself. This cathedral is the final destination for a 30-40 day, 100km+ pilgrimage across Spain, so there’s a constant stream of eccentric and well worn travellers wandering into and trough town – my favourite was the surfer dude walking along with his donkey carrying his packs along a busy street.

The town is a university town, so there’s a huge young chunk of the population here to get educated and party, and it lent itself to a really neat nightlife in the old town. All of these tight mazes of streets come alive at night, and you find at least one bar on pretty much every block. The bars are small, and with that many people out, people just pour out into the street with their drinks chatting and being merry. The density and intensity of the partying was kind of unlike anywhere else I’d been – such a great and accessible nightlife that just lets you wander from bar to bar to bar popping into the ones that sound fun or that ya like the look of the crowd in the street our front.

During the day the old town’s windy roads made for good wandering, lunching, snacking and shopping. At one point we somehow ended up trapped and thought we could cut through a building under construction to get out the other side. No one stopped us from going in, so we just started wandering through this ancient giant building. Of course, even though we’re both normally pretty good with directions, we got even more lost than we started. After finding our way out of the maze of classrooms and halls and strangeness in the basement, we got back to the front desk, where the attendant who should have told us not to come in had returned from her break. We explained we were lost, and needed to find an exit and she laughed and started leading us down a hall and explained that the building was the second largest monastery in Santiago and is being renovated. She turned to go back to work and said the exit was straight ahead, but we couldn’t find it… ended up going even deeper into the monastery to a private square with a fountain, residential quarters and maintained gardens. We finally ended up having to pick a lock on a giant 30ft tall wooden door to escape. Interesting wander that it’s unlikely most people get the chance to see.

Otherwise, a pretty standard week… we both worked, wandered when we had the chance, ate together when we had the chance, and just continued loving the relaxed pace here and the feeling of getting two days in one… “I love it here” was repeated more than a few times 😛

Heard good things about San Sebastian, and looking forward to exploring it and maybe even getting some beach time if the weather holds (fingers crossed)…

Ciao!