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#136 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 05:27 AM

Oy.  Want.


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#137 joethefoodie

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 10:28 AM

Want. What?



#138 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 06:13 PM

Everything pictured from your trip that I now realize was two fucking years ago.


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#139 Sneakeater

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 06:13 PM

(I'm sure I want everything you're having this year, too.)


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#140 joethefoodie

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Posted 29 November 2018 - 06:57 PM

Everything pictured from your trip that I now realize was two fucking years ago.

 

 

(I'm sure I want everything you're having this year, too.)

 

Now this is funny!  Food this year has been very good, albeit a little too heavy on the creamy emulsions, which is such a thing here, isn't it?

 

Last night I actually had plain, grilled lamb chops, much like they do in Rome - scottadito - and they were perhaps the favorite meal of mine so far - and the fried potatoes that came with were great too.



#141 joethefoodie

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Posted 30 November 2018 - 05:09 AM

One of the more special highlights of this trip has been the travel portion.

 

Seems like the Iberia/Air Nostrum pilots decided that a strike was/is necessary, and on the date of our arrival, 3 of the 4 flights from Madrid to San Sebastian were cancelled; our's was the only one which made the trip.

 

On the day of our departure (today), 3 of the 4 flights from San Sebastian to Madrid have been cancelled; our's is the only one making the trip. 

 

The rules appear a bit arcane to this reader:

 

Due to the announced strike called by the pilots union SEPLA, we are forced to cancel the following flights on Friday the 30th November.

The mínimum Service agreement stipulates that 100% of flights with origin Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Melilla, the flights of obligated public service within the peninsula (Almería-Sevilla, Badajoz-Madrid y Badajoz-Barcelona), 28% of flights between Spanish cities where there an alternative within 5 hours and 42% of those that are superior to 5 hours must be operated.

 



#142 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 01:26 PM

Looks like this summer is going to be two weeks in Northern Spain. Plan is 3-4 days in San Sebastian, then drive (one overnight maybe 2 in Asturias/Cantabria) then a week in Galicia.

 

For the Basque Region - thoughts on where we should base ourselves? It'll be five of us (Two little kids and a 16 year old family member there to watch the kids). Can't quite decide whether a house outside of town makes sense or a big apartment in San Sebastian? 

 

Also do you think I can take a 3 year old to Elkano/Kaia Kaipe? Ibai?   Eating things won't be a problem, its just kids in a dining room issue.

 

Any thoughts on Asturias/Cantabria greatly appreciated.


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#143 Orik

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 02:11 PM

Kaipe for sure and it's also nicer at lunchtime I guess. The others I'm not sure.
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#144 joethefoodie

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Posted 29 April 2019 - 05:56 PM

I'd heard some not so great things about Ibai before our most recent trip - and the dining room certainly didn't seem to be one kids would enjoy.



#145 Chambolle

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 07:04 PM

Looks like this summer is going to be two weeks in Northern Spain. Plan is 3-4 days in San Sebastian, then drive (one overnight maybe 2 in Asturias/Cantabria) then a week in Galicia.

 

For the Basque Region - thoughts on where we should base ourselves? It'll be five of us (Two little kids and a 16 year old family member there to watch the kids). Can't quite decide whether a house outside of town makes sense or a big apartment in San Sebastian? 

 

Also do you think I can take a 3 year old to Elkano/Kaia Kaipe? Ibai?   Eating things won't be a problem, its just kids in a dining room issue.

 

Any thoughts on Asturias/Cantabria greatly appreciated.

 

Disclaimer #1 – I have ZERO idea what it’s like traveling with (or eating with or dealing with) little kids. Do 3 year olds walk yet ? talk yet ? eat normal food ? start screaming uncontrollably for totally unknown reasons ? does said screaming stop immediately cuz you pop a pacifier in its mouth ? I truly don’t know about any of this stuff, except for that walkie-talkie part. 

 

Re San Sebast basing, it’s really a question that only you can answer based upon your knowledge of your kids and how you envision your days and nights … and of course it’s also a question of what house / apartments you can actually find that are available. I think the key decision point is how you would realistically expect to spend evenings … do you picture the family heading out and driving somewhere for a full day of sightseeing, staying out until whenever is appropriate for the little ones and then returning home and staying in because you’re totally exhausted or just want to have some family hang-out time … or do you envision returning home after the day’s events, leaving the little ones with the 16yo so the parents can then summon the energy to do adult things, like an adult dine or a peaceful, romantic, nighttime stroll along the beach (whether on the sand below or pavement above, both of which are very pleasant if nice weather) or just sit outside with a gin tonic and chill out. I think if these “adult things” are part of the plan then being in town makes sense. If you have to get back in a car, drive into town, deal with parking etc, it’s much less clear that you are going to actually do it. If you can just pop out the door of your apartment and be where you want to be in 5-10 minutes, then it may actually happen … but you already know all this stuff, of course

 

Re Elkano vs Kaia Kaipe, I have been to both multiple times and I personally think that Elkano is the better resto from a food perspective. Both places presumably use the same product, but I find that the Elkano kitchen is a bit more precise and serious. That said, Kaia K is still fine and has the benefit of their enjoyable outside terrace, assuming of course nice weather, which isn’t necessarily a given. If I couldn’t eat outside, I personally would not go to Kaia K. Elkano is indeed a more “fine dining” ambiance but I do think you could take a 3yo there, especially if you have a 16yo on hand to exit the resto with any crying or restless little ones as the parents continue to enjoy their meal. Northern Spaniards are pretty forgiving and understanding of families dining out and that kids are kids, but a loud, crying baby inside that resto would not be acceptable and would need to be taken outside IMHO. I would NOT recommend taking a 3yo to 2*/3* restos in Spain but although Elkano is a nice place and a civilized place, it’s simply not at that level.

 

I’ll also mention for the record that Kaia K does indeed have an insane wine list (100s upon 100s of burgundies of each color, etc etc etc … Igor the owner is a wine nut), and the list is indeed salivating reading with mostly appetising prices, but for whatever reasons when I’m in Spain at a resto like this, I prefer to drink nice Spanish wines  (and pretty much invariably inexpensive). I mean, do I really want to be the total tourist quaffing down some high-end red burg with my grilled turbot in Getaria ? Yeah sure it pairs perfectly fine and drinking well-stored, high-end red bug is always a blessing but it just seems hyper-touristy (and semi-out-of-place) to be doing so in Spain … (or so says the self-conscious Parisian … YMMV)

 

Getaria is a charming, little place. Make a full day out of it. Probably not right for you guys (hence I’m mentioning it for others), but a tasting up in the hills of Getaria (at Ameztoi or Txomin Etxaniz) can be pleasant and the views are great. Even if you’re not doing a tasting, you may enjoy driving up towards the wineries, seeing the hilly landscape / vines and finding the right spot for the some impressive views down to the coast and port. It’s only 5-ish minutes up there. (By the way, txakoli does NOT qualify in my book as "nice Spanish wines" ... so unless you are at a tapas place, you are allowed one glass max and then move on quickly !)

 

Getaria has the small but nice Balenciaga Museum … lots of nice dresses to be seen, for dress lovers. Frankly, it’s a nice way to spend an hour or less. If you opt to eat at Elkano, either pre or post meal you still must walk down past Kaia K, maybe pop into the Salanort store to browse (nice boquerones, tuna and other canned stuff) and continue down to the port. This is a real, working fishermen’s port, hence don’t be shocked if it’s a bit gritty and not Nantucket pretty … fishing boats in dock can have nets outstretched and drying, interesting aromas too.

 

On the way back to San Sebast from Getaria, if it’s a nice day, maybe make a pit stop and park as close as you can get to Karlos Arguiñano in Zarautz. The hotel/resto location is a good entry point to the beach and a very pleasant walk can be had by going to and fro … either in the sand with your feet in the refreshing water … or along a cement(?) boardwalk. There are usually pretty nice waves here and multiple times I have just happened to show up when they are having some European surfing competition / event.

 

 

Re Ibai, I would skip it. Probably not a good place for a 3yo … because the place is very small (and often quite calm / quiet) and the little ones could be distracting to others in such a place and hence maybe make you guys a bit self-conscious. Further I have come to the conclusion that the place is very overrated, even if the sole is fine. In fact, my last couple of meals were really average and my most recent meal was my absolute last. I am never returning … and I kind of informed the woman server / co-owner about their horrible performance during that final meal (food issues, wine issues, service issues, actually zero interest in providing any reasonable service and on and on), so I doubt I’m even welcome back (hahahahhaha). It’s the only place where I have ever done such a thing. But who knows, maybe I had a freakishly bad recent run there, but for me that run is done done done and I don’t think that I’m missing out on all that much.

 

Re driving to Asturias/Cantabria then Galicia, I know all these places very well. And you know that I spend tons of time in Galicia each summer and hence I must very much enjoy Galicia, which is indeed true. (In fact I was just in Galicia in March for a bunch of days … flew there just for kicks after finding myself back in Barca.)

 

With that said, I feel strongly that it is a mistake to transit from San Sebast to Galicia with one overnight. And I’d further say that 2 nights is insufficient. The key question is … why the rush to get to Galicia ? You may have a very good reason, but please do note that Asturias is a lovely part of the world in the summer and there would be a bunch of potentially fun stuff to do there and if you are passing thru it anyway, it seems a shame to blow right by it so quickly. Now if you were flying into Galicia then I wouldn’t be saying that you must leave Galicia and go spend 3 days in Asturias but that’s not your situation.

 

Here’s my logistical thinking …

 

The transit from San Sebast to Galicia is at minimum 6 hours of driving to get to any appropriate Galician destination. Personally, I find driving more than 3 hours to get somewhere to be very un-fun, hence I try to avoid it. I’m going to make lots of assumptions and assume you may feel the same. If you told me that you had your heart set on Cantabria, I’d probably be recommending a stay in Santander, which has its share of very reasonable things to do there, but I’d definitely opt for Asturian options well before Santander. Further, the pit stop at Santander only gets you 2hrs west, leaving at least 4hrs for an ensuing trek from Santander to Galicia … and as you now know, Chambo doesn’t like 4+ hr treks. Now you may be perfectly fine with that 4hr hike, but let’s now factor in my next thought … which is that according to Chambo Rule #66 you are not allowed to drive from Asturias to Galicia without stopping and stretching your legs to see the waves crashing into the very impressive As Catedrales rock formations (on Goog Maps, the location is effectively Praia de Augas Santas, shortly past Ribadeo). I do this every year and I enjoy it each time. Taking a leisurely walk to and fro along the cliffs is going to be at least an hour, plus or minus. There is that outdoor Bar/Restaurante right there (refer to Goog Maps) with food of very mediocre quality but on a nice, hot day Chambo might be seen sitting and quaffing a cold Estrella while staring out towards the sea before continuing on. I try to schedule myself to avoid being there at mealtime but with the kids and all, it could fit into your plans for a quick, cheap feeding on your way to Galicia.

 

So where were we … oh yeah, we were hyper-optimizing logistics and Chambo just 86-ed a stay in Santander.

 

Hence Asturias … because that gets us a full 3hrs west of San Sebast … AND because Asturias is great …

 

If you have never been, Oviedo is indeed a lovely town to visit. Gijon is a lovely seaside place to visit in the summer (and sometimes I stay in Gijon). From Gijon, scoot up the coast to the Faro de Cabo Peñas … a worthy spot with nice walking paths by the lighthouse on this dramatic coast and a small, kind of interesting visitor’s centre showing all the lighthouses in Asturias. Ribadesella is a charming, small town to stroll. Along the Asturian coast, you find lots of excellent, dramatic beaches. The Jurassic Museum of Asturias has a bunch of scary, life-size dinosaurs that might entertain the kids and it’s actually an interesting museum (that could benefit by a bunch more info in English).

 

Asturias has my favorite fish resto that I like much more that Elkano – Gueyu Mar and it’s right near a pretty nice beach (ie walk 3 minutes) called Playa de Vega. And I hear what your thinking, Bonner (“So Chambo went to Gueyu Mar one time, got lucky and hit the jackpot with an excellent meal and now thinks the joint is the greatest place ever and touts it as such”), but you’re wrong, Bonner, very wrong, cuz I’ll tell ya how many times I have eaten there => double digits. It’s a very enjoyable place with superb fish (and other things from the sea) cooked a la brasa by the owner Abel … perfect for that long, leisurely, late lunch with a little beaching it either before, after, before and after, or better yet DURING ie the little ones are taken to the beach by the teenager while Mom and Dad continue to eat and drink in peace. I personally wouldn’t wear a bathing suit to the resto but shorts are perfectly fine and, when reserving, request a table on the outside terrace, weather permitting.

 

Asturias has impressive mountains too, the Picos de Europa. Since I doubt that the family would be doing much hiking, a drive to Cangas de Onis via the Mirador del Fitu with its fab views might be an interesting excursion (but only on a clear day … forget it if it’s rainy or foggy).

 

I could keep on going and going and keep on selling Asturias, but that’s enough for now and gives a quick sense potential things to do.

 

And no, the restaurant Casa Martial is not appropriate to go to with the little ones. And anyway, I have become less and less a fan of Casa Marcial over the years. The chef Nacho Manzano is a really, really nice guy but I think he’s trying too hard and his food is becoming more and more fussy / tweezer-y and in his mind he’s probably trying to / imagining he can get a 3rd star, whereas in my mind he surely deserves a star (maybe, just maybe a 2nd star because he’s up in the mountains in the middle of absolutely nowhere and he’s sending out a double-digit number of small, fancily-formatted plates with some unusual, local ingredients cooked in a gastro way and he’s a nice guy and the somm is a nice guy and his sister is a sweet server and it’s kind of crazy that this place even exists) but the food and cooking is far, far away from any 3-star Mich zip code. All that said, for people w/o kids who have never been before, I would NOT try to dissuade you from going ... it's just that I don't need to go back for my 5th (or whatever) visit because it isn't my preferred style of cuisine.

 

 

As far as where to stay, I only know about hotels and I’ll give you two potential options to consider that are appropriately located.

 

Note that in Asturias (and this is true for Galicia too), hotel prices are very, very reasonable, even at the nicest places, even in high season. That said, the nicest places are not at a level of upscale-ness or excellent style or charm / refinement that you might hope for and surely find in other parts of Spain.

 

 

That said, the Hotel de La Reconquista in Oviedo is a bit of an exception because it is indeed a very nice place with some old-world charm in the impressive public areas but still feeling very comfortable and not stuffy. It is the only Oviedo hotel I would consider and I always get their Premium Room with Terrace. Room is an okay 25m2 size (but it seems smaller) but I love the wooden terrace that looks out onto the delightful courtyard and yes the room’s wifi works on the terrace. If they can give you 2 of these rooms next to each other, that might work, but I do NOT believe that these rooms with a terrace have adjoining ie inter-connecting rooms. Hotel is an excellent location for walking and exploring the town one day, an easy drive to Gijon and Faro de Cabo Peñas another day. Drive to Gueyu Mar on day 3. Blah blah blah.

 

The second option is the Hotel Palacio de Luces near Lastres, located in a rural setting. I find this place to be very well-located for many of the activities mentioned above … for example, if going to Gueyu Mar or Ribadesella or up into the mountains, it’s saving 30 minutes of travel in each direction as compared to being in Oviedo and naturally Chambo likes that ! Note that this “five star” place fits my description above as it is by far the nicest place in its general area and it’s perfectly fine (and do I stay here each year) but if you look at the pics of the bedroom and common area décor, you can get an idea of what it is … and it’s more a comfortable, mid-range design as opposed to anything to do with five star charm. But once again, for me it works perfectly fine because its location is excellent. They do a nice breakfast in a room with great views of the mountains. They have a resto for dinner but in all the years I have stayed there, I have never bothered to eat there … as it’s kind of a hotel resto, you know … and if you are doing the long leisurely lunches at Gueyu Mar that start at 3pm and you are still there past 6pm then you aren’t even in the market for dinner ... and you highly appreciate the shorter drive home.

 

In fact, each summer, I’ll usually spend 3-4 days at each of these two hotels (in addition to staying in Santander, Bilbao, Galicia etc), so I know them well. Both could be a pretty reasonable option if 2 rooms can work for sleeping the five of you … and I’m relatively confident that there are not clearly better hotels options than these two for this part of Asturias.

 

There is the Puebloastur Eco-Resort up in the mountains near Casa Marcial. I haven’t stayed there but I checked it out a couple of times. It does have a boutique-y, higher-end design (for this part of the world) and it is a pretty slick setup (although not totally my style) but I just don’t think I would recommend staying up in the mountains if that were not your main interest and intent.



#146 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 09:06 PM

This is great chambo. Indeed the point of the 16 year old is to allow us evenings out. However I think I like the idea of doing many fewer days in San Seb and spending more days getting to Galicia. Do you have a San Seb hotel fave?

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#147 Chambolle

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 10:06 PM

Re San Sebast hotel, for last 3-4 years I have been staying at the Astoria7, which works very well for me and my specific needs but it may not be a good match for you guys, mainly because of the location.

 

You see, when I go to San Sebast, I’m spending relatively few daytime hours in town as I’m always heading out on fun day trips elsewhere and hence I like the fact that the hotel is away from the beach / old town / tapas joint area … resulting in fast exit from town and easy return to hotel and the Astoria7 has underground parking with direct hotel elevator access. It also has a good-enough, small gym which is a semi-requirement for me. There’s a bicycle place across the street (Ciclos Luma) where I rent a nice bike and use it to zip into town (good bike paths in San Seb and it’s fun place to bike all around !) or I’ll snag a taxi if I’m too lazy to walk.

 

You guys may very well want to be much closer to “the action” ie in the Hotel de Londres vicinity (that area, not necessarily that hotel). Of course, these’s also the big, stately (and expensive) Maria Cristina but I don’t need all that.



#148 Chambolle

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 11:05 PM

I like the idea of doing many fewer days in San Seb ...

 

I’ll note that 3-4 days seems very reasonable for San Sebast.

 

One day doing the Getaria thing.

 

One lazy day hanging in and strolling around San Sebsat.

 

Other very good options can include …

 

One day going to Hondarribia for hyper-Basque-osity. Fun tapas lunch and great Basque house architecture along the main tapas drag (San Pedro Kalea) where Gran Sol and all the others are located. Lovely walk along the Paseo de Butrón, looking over to France and continue up to the big flat beach which is a perfectly fine playground for the little ones. Don’t forget to go to where the Parador is located and appreciate the big plaza in front of it, walk the little streets in that area, check out the old city walls and battlements … all quite nice to see !

 

One day doing France … lunch at the cool, casual Elements bistro in Bidart (located in a strip mall), then beach it at the very nice Plage d'Ilbarritz. Day can finish up in St Jean de Luz before returning to San Sebast, although I love hitting the cool hangout called the Guinguette d'Erromardie in the summer for a beer as the sun is setting over the water … usually pretty good music too. Guéthary is also a very cool, laid-back spot for a beer by the water … like where Ilunabar Guéthary is located (although this is a new name for the place since last year … but the location is an excellent spot so it still has got to pretty decent)



#149 Orik

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Posted 05 May 2019 - 11:37 PM

Can't be faulted, although even with my chambo-like understanding of children I think kaipe is likely to yield better results even if the kitchen at elkano is better.
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#150 Jesikka

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 09:10 AM

Can't be faulted, although even with my chambo-like understanding of children I think kaipe is likely to yield better results even if the kitchen at elkano is better.

Elkano also seats outside in the front and I think you could do very well with a kid there - you'd have complete ability to take off for a walk as needed and a fair amount of privacy.  It's either 4-5 tables.  In general I find Spain to be very kid-friendly and though I don't have them myself I do have nieces and nephews that age who travel and I see kids in much higher end restaurants in Spain than I do anywhere else (France is a pretty close second).  A friend of mine recently told me how great Azurmendi (in Bilbao which isn't necessarily relevant to your trip) is with his children, so I wouldn't assume you can't do 2 and 3 stars, I would just call the restaurants and ask because many of us on this board are child free.  Personally I'd hang longer than 1 day in San Sebastian, but that's up to you.  There's plenty for kids there.  I think the Maria Christina is nice hotelwise and can be used with points if you have them, but the Hotel Londres is simple and really well located as an alternative.  A couple of us have stayed in the same airbnbs in San Sebastian, PM me if you want details.