Pamplona + San Sebastián + Gaínza

Even if you only have a weekend, you take advantage of the time you have. And that’s exactly what Igaratz and I did last May. We took an early morning train to Pamplona where we later met up with a friend, Ibai. I had the privilege of meeting Iga’s parents and Ibai’s family in Pamplona. They were so welcoming and generous. I could have definitely spent a few more minutes with Ibai’s grandmother discussing telenovelas. But alas, I had much to do in a short timeframe.

Pamplona was a relaxing way to start. Gaínza was a relaxing way to end. And San Sebastián was the whirlwind trip in the middle.

In Pamplona, when we connected with Ibai, we toured the city. There’s an especially interesting park (The Citadel) in the middle that has a partial star shape. We walked around a bit there, crossing our fingers that it wouldn’t begin to rain. The weather in the north of Spain is a bit finicky. My absolute favorite part of the day was going out for tapas. The portions were huge. The best was a delicious slice of tortilla with spinach and goat cheese. It was mouth-watering. Later that evening, we spent the night at Ibai’s family’s house in downtown Pamplona. So sweet of them to host us.

The next morning, Igaratz and I caught a bus to San Sebastián. It was just the two of us until later in the evening when her cousin would pick us up on her way to Gaínza for dinner.

We walked all over San Sebastián. I think I almost quadrupled my step count for the day (living in Madrid, my daily average is about 10,000 steps). We climbed Mount Urgull to get the best views of Playa de La Concha and the rest of the city. The museum at the top of the hill was free and very interesting, so we spent some time there. After we descended Urgull, it was time to eat. Igaratz knew just where to take us… to Juantxo for a bocadillo de tortilla (you can see there’s a pattern here of eating maybe a bit too much tortilla on this trip). After we ate our bocadillo, I’m not sure how it was even possible to eat any more, but Iga took us to a ice cream shop for dessert. We ate our cones while walking along the beach. The weather, thankfully, was perfect.

We walked to the other side of the cove to see the sculptures, Peine del Viento. In the area were holes in the ground that allowed a strong gust of ocean air to blow with each tide… or if the tide was high enough, you could get sprayed with ocean water! It was so much fun to just hang there and play like kids in the wind.

That evening, Iga’s cousin picked us up on the outskirts of San Sebastián. She drove us the short distance to Gaínza where Iga’s family was waiting for us to have dinner. There were so many cousins, aunt, uncles… there was probably 25 of us total. I spoke the little Basque that Igaratz has taught me (hello, thank you, I’m fine, etc.). It was fun to impress them. Basque is an incredibly difficult language.

The next morning after breakfast, we put on our walking shoes again. We explored the mountainside surrounding Gaínza. We ran into neighbors, we played with the family dogs, and I didn’t apply enough sunscreen. At the end of the walk, I was red in the face and shoulders. Pale, pale Amanda should have taken better care of her skin.

My skin may have suffered a bit, but my lungs were oh so happy. The fresh mountain air was a nice change from the city smog in Madrid. I know that this weekend full of nature and the beach was just what the doctor ordered.

Views of Pamplona
Views of San Sebastián from Mount Urgull


Playa de La Concha
Views of Playa de La Concha from Mount Urgull
Old Town in San Sebastián


My favorite Spaniard
Playa de La Concha
Bocadillo de tortilla bigger than my head (from Juantxo)


Gaínza hillsides



3 thoughts on “Pamplona + San Sebastián + Gaínza

    1. This was last May. So we still needed something for the mornings and evenings, especially in the North where we were in these photos.

      Now that it’s summer, all of Spain is hitting the high 90s (or higher)!


  1. Absolutely beautiful! I love the picture from Playa de la Concha – I probably could have stood there forever!


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