Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Surfing in San Sebastian

Last weekend I decided to take a break from city life in Salamanca to visit the coast and do some surfing in the beautiful Basque region of Spain. I had been up to visit Paddy (the manager) at the stoke travel surf camp in June, and knew  straight away I would be back at least a couple of times whilst spending the summer in Salamanca.

The camp site is just up the hill from the small town of Zarautz (about 10km from San Sebastián) set with beautiful views over the beach and the coastline. The journey into the area is very impressive, with the green rolling hills of the Basque region you get some amazing views from both the bus and the train. 

A typical day consists of surf lessons, skating, table tennis, basketball, tight rope walking, cliff jumping, horse riding, eating good food and partying through the night! So plenty to keep you occupied aside from the main thing of learning how to surf.

If you are looking to visit some of the towns in order to experience Basque costal life, Zarautz is a great place to start! It is a popular tourist destination for both foreigners and Spaniards alike, with its population doubling in the busy summer months. The town is most famous for its 2.8km beach, the longest in the Basque region of Spain. At the end of the 19th century the popularity of Zarautz as a luxury tourist destination grew, with famous people such as Queen Isabella II visiting the town. A number of lavish buildings and mansions were built here around this time, though throughout the 70's and 80's Zaurautz became a more affordable holiday destination, with many of the grand buildings becoming public or being demolished.

Now the town is known worldwide as one of the best surfing destinations, with such a long beach there is plenty of room for surfers, and swell to suit all levels, from beginners to professionals, they even hold a leg of the world surfing championships here. You can find many great restaurants in Zarautz as well, with one of the top chefs in Spain (Karlos Arguiñano) having his own restaurant here.

Just 10km away lies the famous city of San Sebastián (or Donastia in Basque) Despite its relatively small size, San Sebastián is one of the most famous and popular tourist cities in Spain, holding events such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival, and it has been granted the European city of culture for 2016. One of the main attractions of the city is it's coastal location. San Sebastián has one of the best beaches in the region, and is also surrounded by impressive mountains and hills perfect for hiking!

The city is also famous for cultural events, holding the longest running jazz festival in Europe (Jazzaldia) in the last week of July, in which you can find many free concerts at different locations around the city. They also have a contemporary art and film festival called 'Street Zinema' as well as the 'Surfilm Festibal' showing impressive surfing footage, often in the form of shorts.

San Sebastián is perhaps most well known for its gastronomy. It has been said that it is the city with the most Michelin star restaurants per square foot in the world. Being close to the sea the seafood is naturally amazing here, and it is also renowned for having some of the best tapas, or 'pintxos' in the old part of the city.

As well as surfing, San Sebastián also has a top level football team, Real Sociedad, who formed part of the founding members of the top Spanish football division 'La Liga'. Aside from this San Sebastián also hosts the 'Clásica de San Sebastián' cycle race in early August each year, which is part of the world cup circuit.

So if you like the sound of giving surfing a try or experiencing the Basque region of Spain then get yourself up to Zarautz for some surfing and partying! Maybe I'll see you there to try and surf some waves and have a beer on the hill watching the sun set in the evening!

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