San Sebastian or Marbella or elsewhere

Old Apr 1st, 2010, 07:39 AM
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San Sebastian or Marbella or elsewhere

Hi Everyone! My husband and I are planning a trip for August (we don't mind the crowds and the fact that it is the height of the season - that is when we get our vacation) and are looking to mix in some city time with some more relaxing beach/quaint village time. We will have a total of 8 nights. One idea is to go to Barcelona for 3-4 nights and then to either Marbella or San Sebastian for the rest of the trip. I've been to Puerto Banus (so am familiar with Marbella) and am trying to get a grasp of what San Sebastian is like. Is it quaint and can you walk anywhere? How would you compare the two? We like 5 star hotels (dont get to travel too often so when we do we like to treat ourselves - it is also our 2nd anniversary trip). We also like being in the middle of all the action (i.e., do not want to have to rent a car). If anyone has any insight on how to compare Marbella to San Sebastian I would greatly appreciate it. Are the vibes similar? I've done research on San Sebastian but its hard to tell just from reading! MANY THANKS EVERYONE!!!
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 07:48 AM
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San Sebastian and Marbella do not compare. San Sebastian is stunning, beautiful, classy, quaint, you can walk everywhere, has some of the world's best beaches in town and nearby, the world's best chefs, an amazing jazz festival in Aug. I wish I could spend a month there every year... can we please keep this place a secret?
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Great!!! This is what I needed to hear! Is there an "area" or hotel that you recommend that is in the middle of it all? What I liked about Marbella were these cobblestoney very narrow alleys that had all these shops and restaurants. Does San Sebastian have that European feel as well
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 08:26 AM
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In August? Marbella & the south of Spain & even most likely Barcelona & Madrid will be HOT, unbelievably HOT. That is why all of the gov't heads to San Sebastian for August.

After spending 4 winters in southern Spain and hearing the expats and Spaniard both constantly complain about how horrible the heat here is in July & August, I have yet to try it & doubt I ever will, but it is divine every other season. Most glorious beach weather today.

So hands down, San Sebastian should be your choice. Like Marbella, it is more of a resort which sounds like your taste & not a typical city.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/0...-donostia.html

DON"T miss the food in San Sebastian, which is it's best feature. BEST tapa crawl in Spain ( and we've done them all over Spain).

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/0...vacation-.html

If you like charming, ancient small towns, you might want to check out this one near by:

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/1...e-santill.html

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/1...antillana.html

Which is also near the awesome Altamira prehistoric art cave:

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/1...ra-sistin.html

Galicia is spectacular as well and one of the best gems in Europe & not crowded in August or hot & muggy like so many places are in August.

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/0...us-galici.html

Definitely stay in northern Spain in August and see the awesome sights in Andalusia any of the seasons, perhaps best in Spring with all the festivals as only the Spaniards can do so grandly.
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 09:00 AM
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The weather will be a huge difference. San Sebastian is on the atlantic coast and will be reasonably cool. Marbella will be as hot as hell. Both will be VERY crowded.
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 09:06 AM
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I would also suggest marvellous San Sebastián; the best city beaches in Europe, fantastic food, belle epoque architecture and a culture that people take great pride in. The article "A different kind of Spain" gives you a good idea of the city and the region: http://marshlands.blogstream.com/

"There is dining that features more Michelin starred restaurants per mile than Paris, New York, or Vienna. There is a culture brought Woody Allen to the city’s Film Festival last year, brings Herbie Hancock and Bob Dylan to this summer’s Jazz Fest, and embraces Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum just down the coast in Bilbao. There is the zest for life that drew Ernest Hemingway to nearby Pamplona and was immortalized in The Sun Also Rises.

San Sebastian’s setting on the coast is a panorama reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro - a horseshoe bay of blue water whose entrance is guarded by Mount Igueldo, a wide sandy beach circling the bay, green mountains extending all the way to the water, and a statue of Christ on Mount Orgull overlooking it all. At the back of the bay lies the city, clad largely in white, perched on the beach and the slopes heading up into the mountains".

17 Michelin stars in San Sebastián, but the best food experience might just as well be strolling around for the delicious pintxos/tapas served in every bar in this food-crazy town and really take in the atmosphere.
http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

Belle epoque luxcury and great location at Hotel Maria Cristina, Londres and, to a lesser degree, at Hotel Niza. Pensión Alemana is great value, just behind Niza and 50 mtrs from the La Concha beach promenade and in the middle of everything: http://www.hostalalemana.com/

We've also enjoyed very much staying at charming and quiet Pension Chomín, close to the excellent Ondarreta beach (the extension of La Concha and a bit less crowded) and a 20 mins walk along the fabolous La Concha promenade to the city center and the vibrant Parte vieja/Old town.
http://www.booking.com/hotels/hotel/...chomin.en.html
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 09:11 AM
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I'm with Egbert on this. I loved it there and would like very much to go back during one of the festivals. I remember thinking to myself: "people live like this, every day? wow".

But please make your reservations now. I am wondering what will even be available for August?........
At 9, so begins the tapas crawl and it is not just fun but delicious. The fizzy wine, the creamy tapas, the lovely, beautiful people... We stayed at the Hotel De Londres Y De Inglaterra which overlooks La Concha--the beach/bay. It's not a bad hotel. Check out Maribel's recommendations for tapas, etc. Take the bus to the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao--don't drive.

Big No on Marbella. Unless you have an air conditioned yacht????
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Old Apr 1st, 2010, 09:13 AM
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If I had an air conditioned yacht I would invite you all. Thanks everyone! This has been extremely helpful. I'll get going on the planning ASAP!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2010, 05:13 AM
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Ferran Adrià (El Bulli) suggests that San Sebastián is the best place to eat in the world "in terms of the average quality of the food, in terms of what you can get at any place you happen to walk into".
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandsty...rink.shopping2

You could have gourmet experiences on a pintxos/tapas round to considerably lower costs than in the Michelin star restaurants. Be sure to order some of the freshly prepared hot pintxos that are not on display at the bar. Each place would have its own specialities.

These are among my favourite bars in the Parte vieja/Old town: La Cepa (traditional; fantastic ham (Jamón de Jabugo) and grilled green peppers), Cuchara de San Telmo (gourmet), Astelehena (traditional and innovative in the corner of the main square, Plaza de la Constitución), Goiz Argi (perhaps the best grilled shrimp skewers in town), Txepetxa (anchovies from heaven). Next door Zeruko is also said to be outstanding.

Many of the best places are in the Gros area on the other side of the river: Patio de Ramuntxo, Bar Bergara (Patxi Bergara started the Basque food revolution back in the early eighties together with Juan Mari Arzak of three star Restaurante Arzak) and Aloña Berri are all fabolous.

For a sit-down meal, Restaurante Urola is my favourite since the late 80's: http://www.restauranteurola.com/english/index.html

One Michelin star Restaurante Kokotxa has got a great value lunch menu: http://www.restaurantekokotxa.com/home.php

I had the meal of my life in the harbour of the close by fishing village Getaria in 1996. This gives you an idea: http://thepauperedchef.com/2007/12/elkano-in-getar.html

San Sebastián celebrates its Big Week/Semana Grande August 14. to 21. http://www.whatsonwhen.com/sisp/inde...vent_id=182281

Lots of charming villages along the coast towards vibrant Bilbao with the famous Guggenheim museum. If you go the other way you're soon in France and places such as St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz. All within 60 mins driving from San Sebastián.

If you go to Bilbao, I suggest you visit the oldest café in town, Café Boulevard. It was closed down to great public protests in 2006 after 135 years of history, but it reopened a week ago. This 10 min documentary about the last day before closing speaks volumes of the café and its significance as well as of the bilbainos themselves: http://www.vimeo.com/2690209
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Old Apr 2nd, 2010, 06:36 AM
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Anyplace you stay in San Sebastian is beautiful. It's like Paris on the ocean. The action is in the old neighborhood. If you stay there you'll need earplugs as the streets will be packed every night until late.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2010, 08:04 AM
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I'm leaving for San Sebastian on May 13th and this post has come at the perfect time.

Just when I thought I was finished with most of my planning..bam...here's more information!

Thanks for posting the links above, I'm off to check them out now!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2010, 09:35 AM
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Here you'll find a San Sebastián calendar of events etc:
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/i...ing&id=T430632
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Old May 17th, 2010, 12:19 PM
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Old May 18th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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mmama,
Have a look to San Sebastian:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eduydor...45665/sizes/l/

My fav hotel in San Sebastian facing the bay:
http://www.hlondres.com/i-index.htm

The week of the August 15, from Sunday to Sunday, is the Aste Nagusia (Big Week) with the International Fireworks Competition every night at 23:00
http://commondatastorage.googleapis....al/1965399.jpg

A typical tapas bar in San Sebastian:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8230500...30028/sizes/l/
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Old May 18th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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This post makes me want to cry. I'm so jealous (and happy for you) that you're going to San Seb. this summer, I'm not. Yes JustineA I remember thinking, "people live like this?". My friends who live there can't understand why I love it. They say the weather is horrible and it's too expensive and they would rather live in Barcelona. Barcelona??
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Old May 24th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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