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Spain Priorities: Mallorca v. San Sebastian

Spain Priorities: Mallorca v. San Sebastian

Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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Spain Priorities: Mallorca v. San Sebastian

I'm wondering if any of you intrepid travellers and expats out there can help me decide where we should go on the last piece of our honeymoon in Spain: Mallorca or San Sebastian.

Normally, I would pick San Sebastian hands down as we are foodies and I consider myself more of a northern rather than a southern soul (my fiancee on the other hand, is the reverse). However, after watching Mario Batali eat pastries and lobsters on "Spain on the Road Again"*, I was drawn to Mallorca, specifically Deia, despite what I've heard about the hordes and concrete around Palma de Mallorca.

(*this is a miniseries with Gweneth Paltrow that recently ran in North America - the website is also useful for travel planning)

This would be a three day portion tied into the rest of our trip, which will include Madrid & Segovia, Catalonia, and Andalucia. We are keen road-trippers, so pace and travel time are not concerns. There are cheap flights availabe from Barcelona to Mallorca and back, so that's not an issue either. However as it's our honeymoon, I'm wondering if Mallorca will provide the island romance that suits that occassion better than San Sebastian, but as I've never been to either, I am just not sure.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Many more romantic coves and inns on mallorca although S.S is a beautiful area.

We stopped here for coffee


and of course the Grand Hotel San Julia is not to be missed for SOMEthing


Take a sunset sail cruise.

Mallorca is fabulous.. and so many places you will not see concrete, believe me.

You have to get OUT of Palma (after you see the cathedral)to the countryside and coast, rent a car and explore. It is very well preserved.

www.mallorcaonline.com is a handy website for a variety of info.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:20 PM
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This is a better website for Son Julia

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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:36 PM
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It is impossible to chose. It's like asking which of your dogs would you save if you could only save one. The answer is clear: you must go to both!
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 04:10 PM
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I feel like that and I haven't even been there!

Well, let me explore another option then. Would you scrap the Costa Brava (Cadaques) and the Pyrennes over a jet-speed Madrid-San Sebastian-Barcelona trip?
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 05:47 PM
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This is the hotel they stayed in on the Batali show (!!!!)

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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 02:10 AM
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A tipo for foodies: pintxos in San Sebastian:
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3154130028/
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 02:15 AM
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I think I would scrap the Pyreneés in any case. But what month is this for? Would make a difference.
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 02:36 AM
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"Imagine a city with architecture inspired by Paris and a spectacular natural setting reminiscent of a miniature Rio de Janeiro, and you have a rough image of San Sebastian" (The Daily Telegraph)

San Sebastian photo gallery:
La Concha bay and the island of Santa Clara from Monte Igeldo. A boat leaves from the port to Santa Clara in summer.

Monte Igeldo from Ondarreta Beach. The waters of this beach are quieter and is perfect for kids.

The Funicular connects Ondarreta Beach, at the bottom, with the popular amusement park for kids at the top.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1331599717/

The ancient amusement park with a view.

"The Comb Of The Winds" iron sculpture by Chillida at the foot of Monte Igeldo.

The Palacio de Miramar & gardens. Miramar, a quaint residence in the Queen Anne Cottage style, was the summer home of the Spain's royal family and now is the venue for courses and seminars.

The Palacio de Aiete built in 1878. Important figures like King Alfonso XII, Queen María Cristina and General Franco spent their holiday there.

La Concha Beach.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/317303526/

La Perla, at La Concha, combines a thalasso fitness spa, a gym and a café-restaurant.

Ornamental lamp posts at La Concha.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1313565259/

The Tiovivo. This carousel is located in the Alderdi-Eder gardens.

Ayuntamiento (The City Hall), original built as a casino.

The Club Nautico looks like before World War II

The fishermen's quarter.

A virtual tour of the new Aquarium.

Stormy weather at the Paseo Nuevo. This promenade almost encircles Monte Urgull.

Cementerio de los Ingleses (Cemetery of English) on Monte Urgull. This is a small British cemetery where soldiers from Wellington's 1813 siege of San Sebastián are buried. Years later, volunteers of the British Auxiliary Legion defended the city against Carlist attack in the First Carlist War (1833-1840). Their fallen are also buried in this cemetery.

Monte Urgull. The Castillo de la Mota, constructed in the 12th Century at the top, was a key element in the town’s defence. You can still see today the cannons used against enemy troops.

The Parte Vieja (The Old Town).

Fiesta at the Parte Vieja.

The Plaza de la Constitucion --aka "La Consti"-- is the urban center of the Parte Vieja. Look for the numbers on the balconies, a souvenir of the times in which the square was used as a bullring and its balconies rented out as boxes.

Sidewalk tables at the Boulevard to watch life pass by.

The Kiosko, a Parisian-style bandstand at the Boulevard.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2686638719/

Statue of the musician Usandizaga at Plaza de Gipuzkoa.

The Zurriola Bridge with spherical lighthouse-style lights.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3236423956/

Kursaal Congress Centre by Moneo.

Surfers will find "their wave" in Zurriola Beach.

The Urumea River crosses San Sebastián.

The Maria Cristina Bridge. The ensemble features small dragons, maritime scenes, coats of arms (those of San Sebastián and the old Gipuzkoan one), with four sculptural groups built upon four shrines inspired by the Alexander III Bridge in Paris.

Cristinaenea Park.

Museo de San Telmo. This museum, set in a 16th-century convent, is worth a visit if only for its Renaissance cloister. It holds Basque painting and Ethnographic items.

San Vicente church. This castle-like sandstone building squats in the northeast of the Parte Vieja. Started in the early 16th century, it features a massive retablo with various biblical scenes.

Sculpture of St. Sebastian wounded by arrows, on the doorway of the Basilica de Santa Maria del Coro.

Catedral de El Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd Cathedral).This Neo-Gothic building, with its 75 meter spire, is the biggest church in San Sebastián.

Hotel Maria Cristina, a luxury hotel decorated in the style of Belle Epoque.

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, a prestigious hotel facing La Concha Bay.

Nocturnal view of San Sebastián.

Pintxo (literally skewer) is Basque for "tapa", a small slice of bread upon which an ingredient or mixture of ingredients is put and held there using a stick, which gives the food its name. It is usually eaten as an appetizer, accompanied by a glass of red wine (called txikito) or beer (zurito) and very common in the taverns of Basque Country and Navarre, where a variety of pintxos are usually served on a tray at the bar. These traditional pintxos bars in the Parte Vieja are recommended: "Goiz Argi" at Fermin Calbeton St., "Tamboril" and "Txepetxa" at Pescaderia St., "La Cepa" and "Martinez" at 31 de Agosto St. and the atmospheric "Casa Alcalde" at Kale Nagusia. This photo shows pintxos displayed on a counter:
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3154130028/

In the 1980s Basque chefs created the "nueva cocina vasca" (new Basque cuisine), radically original in its form but solidly Basque in substance, with lighter and less rustic versions of traditional dishes and flavours. Many bars serve modern-style pintxos employing new techniques and ingredients. These bars in nearby the Zurriola beach are recommended: "Aloña Berri" at Ricardo Bermingham St. and "Bergara" at General Artetxe St.

San Sebastián and nearby boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any place on earth: Akelarre, Arzak and Martin Berasategui (3 stars each), Mugaritz and Zuberoa (2 stars each) plus Alameda, Fagollaga, Miramón, Kokotxa and Kursaal (1 star each).

But traditional recipes, the base of the famous Basque cuisine, are not dead. These restaurants in the Parte Vieja are recommended: "Casa Nicolasa" at Aldamar St., "Juanito Kojua" at Puerto St. and "Casa Urbano" at 31 de Agosto St.

Dining in a sidrería (cider house). The traditional sidrería meal --for sharing with friends-- consists of: "Sidra" (not sparkling cider poured from taps set in huge barrel-ends on the wall), "Chistorra" (deep fried paprika-flavored pork sausage), "Tortilla de bacalao" (salt cod omelette), "Chuletón" (T-bone steak cut in chunks for sharing), "Pan" (baguette to mop up the juices), "Queso de Idiazábal con membrillo" (smoked sheep's milk cheese from Idiazabal with quince jelly) and "Nueces" (whole walnuts to crack).

A seafood eaterie in the port.

An open-air farmers food market at La Bretxa.

A cake shop for the sweet-toothed people. "Pastel Vasco" is a traditional Basque dessert but the "Ruso" is a cake to die for.

The Tamborrada Festival. In 1808 San Sebastián was occupied by Napoleon's soldiers until 1813. As French platoons patrolled the town in formation behind their drummers, the local cooks and washerwomen marched around behind them, mockingly beating rhythms on their pots, pans, and washtubs. Today, the Tamborrada is a great parade of men dressed in fancy colourful uniforms, with the same style that soldiers during the war against Napoleon, playing drums with the March of San Sebastián, women dressed in typical clothes playing barrels and a group of both male and female cookers playing barrels too. Each January 19 at midnight opens the festivities at the Plaza of the Constitution of the city.

The Caldereros Festival on February remembers the Hungarian gypsies who used to pass through the city, proclaiming their services by banging their hammers against pots and pans. Everyone dresses up in traditional gypsy garb and delights in making the necessary racket.

The annual San Sebastián Jazz Festival is one of the longest running jazz festivals in Europe.

The week of the August 15, from Sunday to Sunday, is the Aste Nagusia (Semana Grande, Big Week) with the International Fireworks Competition every night at 23:00

Regata de traineras: annual rewing races (1st & 2nd Sunday, September). Racing "traineras" is a tradition which began formally in 1879 when the town of San Sebastián organized a regatta, but betting on Sunday competitions between fishermen began at the end of the eighteenth century because in addition to the twenty-man fishing boats, the "traineras" were faster craft used for bringing the sardine catch quickly to market.

During the month of September, San Sebastián celebrates the Euskal Jaiak (Basque Festivals), a week of various activities whose common theme is Basque culture: traditional dances, accordionist contest, wood chopping, "pelota" (Jai Alai) and Basque rural sports like oxen dragging stones.

The annual Donostia-San Sebastián International Film Festival is accredited as a FIAPF 'A' category competitive film festival.

Santo Tomás (St. Thomas Day) on December 21, the day by tradition when farmers and homesteaders from round about brought their wares into the city prior to Christmas.This is a festival for foodies, and the thing is "Chistorra" (thin sausage stuffed with with pork mince flavored with paprika) in bread rolls or "talos" (corn bread). Around the city centre there are many stalls selling fried chistorra accompanied by natural Basque cider or red wine from Rioja.
www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/183262301/
Revulgo is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2009, 03:01 AM
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Do Mallorca and San Sebastian...forget the Costa Brava. I've done all of the above and for romance...no contest. Revulgo's is amazing!
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Wow revulgo! Wish I had time to add some stuff for considering also Mallorca. They are so differnt. You will ove either one, especially with these wonderful suggestions.

I think this thread could just be the S.S. tourist guide..¿no?

Well done!
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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As you know, 'The Guide' is Maribel's but is also nice to see the beauty pics of San Sebastian.
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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Thanks everyone!

BTW - we're going from August 24 - September 13. I notice that we would be able to catch Euskal Jaiak (Basque Festivals) if we plan correctly. I'm leaning towards fitting San Sebastian in in a typical North American jet-speed fashion, but I must include the Dali Museum in Figueres to keep my other half happy - am considering it as a day trip from Barcelona and skipping Costa Brava.

I might add this as a separate thread, but does anyone know if it is likely to make a difference heat-wise if we are in Andalucia in the last week of August vs. one of the first two weeks of September? In the Pacific Northwest (home), there is usually a marked difference, but not sure if it would be the same in Spain.
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Old Apr 7th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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Most likely it would be a teeny weeny bit cooler two weeks later. Definitely try to put Andalucia towards the end of a suumer/fall trip.
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Old Apr 8th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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This is the hotel we ended up at http://www.gran-melia-victoria.com/en/ . Great hotel right on Paseo Marítimo. Will post pics soon!
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