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The right way to have pintxos in the Basque Country and how tourism is changing it

The right way to have pintxos in the Basque Country and how tourism is changing it

Sep 1st, 2018, 04:00 AM
  #61  
 
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But I still don't understand how the foie pinxto in Donostia is different than the foie tapa in Seville. I'm not talking about the custom or tradition and not talking about free tapas. I mean just the hot foie on a plate.

I did order tapas in Seville, not raciónes, cause all the blackboard showed the prices for both these sizes. I liked this place (there was only one, at a different location) when I was there about 6 years ago; you can see the prices for various sizes of portion.

LA AZOTEA SEVILLA | Restaurante Calle Zaragoza
ekscrunchy is offline  
Sep 1st, 2018, 06:46 AM
  #62  
 
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in post number 14 on this thread I clearly state that the link I provide is mine.
It is unreasonable to expect that someone clicking on a link in post 54 will notice that it is the same as a link they may or may not have clicked on five days earlier (and remember who the author was if they did click on it). Plus a number of readers don't read every post. The attribution should have been given.

The main aim of this post was to show what locals (many) feel about the big changes that tourism is producing in the world of pintxos
I entirely agree that mass tourism is a scourge. (But do you not make your living from tourism?) However, I still fail to see how me sitting down to eat two raciones keeps you from standing up and eating one pintxos. Perhaps you should be addressing your concerns to the bar owners, not to a handful of independent travelers, if you object to the provision of tables and plates.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 1st, 2018, 09:22 AM
  #63  
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Ekscrunchy, there are two types of pintxos in San Sebastian and other parts of the Basque Country: cold ones from the counter (some have to be reheated) and hot ones made on order. The counter in San Sebastian will be full of cold pintxos and there´ll be a board showing those that can be ordered hot. Size matters here, and they are eaten (normally) with a fork and a knife. In Seville there won´t be pintxos on the counter, and they offer three different sizes (size!) of the same thing: tapa (small one), media (half) and ración (a big one, normally to share). In SS you´ll only be offered a pintxo, not other sizes. And yes, I agree, they´ll look very similar, but in Seville they call tapa (when it costs money) to the small portion of a ración (it´s common to hear the bartender asking "¿Tapa o ración?"). In the same way, you´ll get a free tapa of something simpler if you just order a drink. Kind of complicated, I know

thursdaysd, as we say in Spain, and regarding my post on pintxos and tapas, you get the last dime (meaning "yes, ok, fine, whatever", I just don´t understand why I should apologize or give more explanations when I´ve already said it, it´d be redundant or pretentious to say again that it´s my post). Regarding mass tourism, it´s quite far from my personal and business interests, I prefer to live in and show a land that has not been yet discovered by mass tourism (if we exclude SS in certain times of the year, and even so it´s very far from being a tourist resort as in the Mediterranean, for example). The difference is that, normally, you will not be offered raciones in many places in the Basque Country and you´ll be offered pintxos. In those places offering raciones, you´ll sit down, yes. For raciones. For pintxos, locals prefer to have them standing. Visitors can do their own way, of course. And regarding bar owners, I´ve had endless discussions with bartenders objecting to the plate and leaving the bar (even when working with visitors). If I show the local way, I show the local way.

Last edited by mikelg; Sep 1st, 2018 at 09:34 AM.
mikelg is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2018, 04:13 PM
  #64  
 
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Speaking now of txuletas, or maybe spelling is wrong. Sorry for that.

Asador San Martin in Orio? I saved that on my reading list..should it remain there as a place to visit in the future? Thank you, Mike!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Sep 4th, 2018, 02:00 PM
  #65  
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Can´t be of help, haven´t been to it! But Xixario and Katxiña are among my favorites in Orio!
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Nov 19th, 2019, 12:44 AM
  #66  
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And, almost 1 1/2 year later, this is what´s going on...

As a local involved in tourism in the Basque Country, and considering that this region of Spain has been vastly ignored by tourism until very recently, I´ve noticed a few changes this year:

- More and more menus written in English (which will be considered very practical by many).
- Locals fleeing from the old quarter during high season, some bars (i.e. La Viña in San Sebastian for its famous cheesecake, only foreigners now)
- Prices going up in the touristy areas, still cheap for many visitors coming from more affluent countries, but starting to be kind of expensive for locals.
- Michelin starred restaurants (we have the highest concentration of these restaurants in the world, in relation to our size) just for visitors
- A few Basque bars have started to offer meals and drinks that are not Basque at all (i.e., paella and sangría, the latter mainly only for tourists all over Spain), but are associated with the standard idea of Spain in many countries. Business is business, but the faces of deception of diners are big, as quality is obviously not good.
- Dinner and lunch times are adapting to the rest of the world, we are losing one of our singularities.
- I´ve even seen a "bailaora" (flamenco dancer) in the streets of Bilbao, so funny.
- Hotel prices have increased, new hotels are opened every year.
- Plenty of "free" tours, everywhere.
- And pintxos becoming the main meal for many visitors (a lost battle
- And sadly, more crime in some areas, attracted by the increase in the number of visitors, robbing (mainly) mobile phones seems to become more frequent...(no violence in any case, though)

In any case, it´s always good news to see that your country attracts the interest of so many!
mikelg is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 04:27 AM
  #67  
 
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Thanks for the update, mikegl. We are headed back to Donostia this spring for at least a week and very much looking forward to it.

As an aside I will just say that as much as I love to eat, and adore pintxos, there is no way I can ever eat a meal after devouring a couple of them. And I'm certainly no expert, but there is no way I'd ever order paella or sangria in the Pays Basque, or seek out flamenco dancer.

Hoping to spend more time in Bilbao on this next trip.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 09:36 AM
  #68  
 
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Sounds like another place becoming a victim of its own success.
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 12:56 PM
  #69  
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Well, not really, so far the Basque Country does not live on mass touristm and it stays quite "virgin" in a vast majority of places. But I see changes and I just wanted to make them public, as I´m very aware of how thing change so fast.
mikelg is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 05:53 PM
  #70  
kja
 
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I think it a sad irony that people who want to visit places to experience their unique elements so often end up undermining what is actually unique, while bolstering the influence of homogenizing forces. I'm glad I saw San Sebastian / Donostia (and other parts of the region) when I did. Thanks for the update, mikel.
kja is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 09:44 PM
  #71  
 
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Originally Posted by mikelg View Post
It´s not a question of where tourists go, but how tourists change our habits (gladly supported by patrons, who make much more money this way). I don´t mind going to a bar with tourists...I mind changing the local way of having pintxos and converting it into another kind of experience.
It happens everywhere. Amsterdam and bar snacks: same.
menachem is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 11:02 PM
  #72  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by menachem View Post
It happens everywhere. Amsterdam and bar snacks: same.
Interesting! I hadn't thought the significance of bar snacks to Amsterdam's culture commensurate with the significance of pintxos to Basque culture (or San Sebastian / Donostia specificially), nor had I thought the changes to Amsterdam's culture that have been brought on by tourism (as devastating as the impact of tourism has been there) commensurate with the changes to Basque culture that mikelg describes. My limited understanding has been that most of the changes in Amsterdam have been the consequence of the number of tourists per se, rather than actual changes to the culture. What Mikel described seemed to me to involve actual changes in the cultural experience -- when meals are served, what foods are served, what entertainment is offered, etc. -- and all in a context where culinary experience has been a particularly important unique distinguishing feature. But I readily admit that I'm not in a position to understand. I'm curious and would be interested in learning more, but I don't want to derail Mikel's thread.
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Nov 20th, 2019, 09:21 PM
  #73  
 
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"I think it a sad irony that people who want to visit places to experience their unique elements so often end up undermining what is actually unique, while bolstering the influence of homogenizing forces."

The inevitable effects of mass tourism.

Just like immgration. A small amount of immigrants may enrich your country, but mass immigration will destroy your culture on the long run.

It may help to resist, buy being proud of your traditions and not altering it for the sake of tourists or immigrants. This is the way we eat pintxos here, if you don't like it go to the McDonalds. or We like to eat pork in this country and if you're offended by this go home.
BDKR is offline  
Nov 21st, 2019, 05:56 AM
  #74  
 
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Originally Posted by BDKR View Post
"I think it a sad irony that people who want to visit places to experience their unique elements so often end up undermining what is actually unique, while bolstering the influence of homogenizing forces."

The inevitable effects of mass tourism.

Just like immgration. A small amount of immigrants may enrich your country, but mass immigration will destroy your culture on the long run.

It may help to resist, buy being proud of your traditions and not altering it for the sake of tourists or immigrants. This is the way we eat pintxos here, if you don't like it go to the McDonalds. or We like to eat pork in this country and if you're offended by this go home.
I can understanding being proud of your traditions but in the end, resistance is futile. You can't engineer culture. It evolves how it evolves. We have airplanes. We have the internet. We have a million TV channels from all over the world. We have Youtube.

Three or four years ago it would have been very unusual to hear meetings or business calls start off with "Hey guys..." in the UK. Youtube has changed that. Too bad. That's life. Get used to "hey guys" (and the next 'hey guys' and the next...) or go live somewhere that's insulated from global culture. North Korea, anyone?

I don't mean as snippy. just making the point.
walkinaround is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 12:35 AM
  #75  
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I should also maybe mention the effect of tourism in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (a.k.a. known by many visitors as Dragonstone, if you´re a follower of Game of Thrones, and formerly one of my favorite places). What was previously a beautiful, unspoilt place in a protected natural area is now overriden by buses and cars and people, that mainly visit this so symbolic place for us Basques as it was one of the main places in season 7 of GOT. The meaning and symbolism of the place is lost, in spring and summer there´s a compulsory (free) ticket to climb the steps to the church, and traffic restrictions have been applied. There´s currently a project for a new parking in the area, heavily protested by many, organized now in a "SOS Gaztelugatxe" community.

While tourism is always welcome, it must also mean a respect and an understanding of the places to be visited. We have to learn a lesson here...the Basque area never was a major tourist destination and becoming a "trendy" place has its consequences.

Last edited by mikelg; Dec 2nd, 2019 at 12:49 AM. Reason: spelling mistakes
mikelg is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 04:20 AM
  #76  
 
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"There´s currently a project for a new parking in the area, heavily protested by many, organized now in a "SOS Gaztelugatxe" community."

Good luck, my friend!

It should be a no brainer to anyone(other than politicians and the construction mafia) that money is better spent on a good public transport link than on covering a huge plot of land with asphalt. A bus can take 50-100 people and turn around immediately, compare that with parking place for 50 cars.
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Dec 2nd, 2019, 09:17 AM
  #77  
 
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One of the quirky things about tourism is that it inevitably ends up reversing on itself. People start flocking to someplace and turn it into a theme park and the locals all jump on the bandwagon because there's a ton of money to be made, and meanwhile everyone is bemoaning the loss of their heritage and traditions, but they turn their traditions into money-making enterprises - come to the Périgord and feed the geese, learn to make honey, take a cooking class or paint on the banks of the Vézère, learn to knit like the old women of Belvès, gather walnuts and chestnuts and hunt for truffles, bla bla bla...yes, it's trendy and isn't it wonderful that people can partake in all this? I suppose so, and I'm sure all of them have wonderful holidays here, but I really don't think there's much respect involved. Or even much knowledge about the history other than superficialities.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 04:31 PM
  #78  
 
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And to add to mikelg's listing of the recent effects of mass tourism to the Basque Country, there's the San Sebastián Old Quarter "Pintxo Gate", reported by Marti Buckley (author of the new cookbook, The Basque Country) in the Telegraph.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/d...e-than-locals/

The 60-year old, much loved bar/restaurant Cueva on Plaza Trinidad must close on January 20, as the building has been sold to the Beti Jai/Nagusia Lautrec group, mentioned above, to build a new hotel.

Article about this "Pintxo Gate" in Spanish here if you're able to access it (may be behind a pay wall)*
https://www.diariovasco.com/gipuzkoa...200958-nt.html
Maribel is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 05:49 PM
  #79  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
One of the quirky things about tourism is that it inevitably ends up reversing on itself. People start flocking to someplace and turn it into a theme park and the locals all jump on the bandwagon because there's a ton of money to be made, and meanwhile everyone is bemoaning the loss of their heritage and traditions, but they turn their traditions into money-making enterprises
One problem with generalizations is that they are, well, generalizations. The people who turn a place into a theme park (or cruise ship destination or whatever) and who reap the vast majority of the financial benefits of so doing aren't necessarily the same people who are most deeply affected by those decisions and who bemoan their loss of heritage and traditions. Those people may have no choice but to try (at least) to turn their traditions into money-making enterprises -- and they shouldn't necessarily bear the blame for a process they may have opposed from the start.
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