San Sebastian

Highlights from my trip to San Sebastian

Highly recommended Airbnb, a beautiful space with a great host https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7318896?guests=1&adults=1

Food

Atari https://sansebastianpintxobars.com/pintxo-bars/atari-gastroteka/

La Cuchara de San Telmo, five stars! Definitely have the veal cheeks, cochinillo, cod confit, pig ears, beef loin, and blood sausage https://sansebastianpintxobars.com/pintxo-bars/la-cuchara-de-san-telmo/

Bar Sport, try the chipirones (grilled squid), pork rib, and risotto, https://www.facebook.com/BarSportDonostia/

Ganbara, try the hot pintxos http://www.ganbarajatetxea.com/presentation

Txoko Getaria, amazing grilled turbot or rodaballo http://txokogetaria.com/home-2/

Stuff to do:

Monte Urgull for amazing views of the city https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187457-d544829-Reviews-Monte_Urgull-San_Sebastian_Donostia_Province_of_Guipuzcoa_Basque_Country.html

Side trip to Getaria

Playa Zurriola, a beach close to San Sebastian's old town https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187457-d3222690-Reviews-Zurriola_Beach-San_Sebastian_Donostia_Province_of_Guipuzcoa_Basque_Country.html

Barcelona

Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines never had a monarchy so Filipinos did not have a royal menu as a guide on what to serve during special occasions. As a Spanish colony, Filipinos looked to Spain as “king” and adapted Spanish cuisine into the menu for celebrations and important events. My grandmother, for instance, serves paella, lechon, honey cured jamon, embutido, and leche flan when we celebrate noche buena (Christmas Eve) and media noche (New Year’s Eve). Growing up I had a taste of the strong influence of Spain on Filipino cuisine.

Here is a list of dishes and restaurants that made me fall in love with Barcelona.

Where We Stayed

After days of searching, I booked this Airbnb hosted by Arama and Jordi because it had great reviews, it was reasonably priced, and perfectly located in a safe residential area, away from loud bars and tourist traps. Arama personally greeted us when we arrived and showed us her simple but sparkling clean apartment. Her place is a stone’s throw away from Albert Adria’s restaurants like Tickets, Pakta, Enigma and Bodega 1900 which made this Airbnb such a solid find.

To catch our early morning flight back to New York, we stayed at Barcelona Airport Hotel so we did not have to commute all the way from the city center. Though our room was slightly expensive, this hotel offers free transfers to and from the airport, making it a convenient choice if you need to stay close to the airport.

Where We Ate

Quimet y Quimet is a small, standing room only, tapas bar known for serving delicious montaditos or small sandwiches that can be finished in two big bites. Even though we arrived 15 minutes before opening time, there were already 20 people in line. I later learned that Anthony Bourdain had eaten here.

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The counter staff put together your montadito as you order them, similar to a sushi omakase in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. We only ordered small sandwiches so we could try several items on the menu. I absolutely loved the salmon with yogurt and truffled honey, foie gras with volcanic salt, mussels and caviar, mushrooms and cheese, and cured beef with sweet tomato.

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Bodega 1900 is one of the restaurants by the legendary Albert Adria. There’s a Chef’s Table episode on him in case you are interested. Try the spherical olives for a taste of “molecular gastronomy”, a cooking technique introduced by Adria in El Bulli. The waiter told me to burst the olive between my tongue and the roof of my mouth and prepare for an “explosion”. I loved the house vermouth, a fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices. It was fruity, smooth, and refreshing. The fried fish, calamari with hot sauce, and the pork jowl with cheese were all incredibly good as well.

A block away from Bodega 1900 is Lolita, a casual and trendy tapas bar with absolutely amazing food. We had the deep fried prawns (you can eat even the head), jamon iberico on an artichoke with quail egg, and crusted chicken with potato crisps and turmeric sauce. We capped off the night with an off-the-menu dessert — strawberries with chardonnay vinegar and orange zest. I wish I could eat this dessert again.

A short drive from Barcelona Airport Hotel is 2 de Vins, a classy, upscale wine bar and restaurant which had mostly local patrons. We did not have high expectations from the restaurants close to our hotel since the area is not known for food but 2 de Vins proved us wrong. The foie gras is one of the best I have ever tried and the roasted shoulder of kid was so perfectly tender. The bread pudding tres leches was the best dessert of the entire trip. The ham and cheese croqueta, razor clams, and sardine with a slice of pear were all good.

At the border of the Gothic Quarter, Churrería Laeitana serves freshly fried, crispy churros sprinkled with a tiny bit of sugar and accompanied by a cup of rich chocolate dipping sauce. This cafe, which attracts a mixed clientele of locals and tourists, is also known for its porras, a thicker version of the churros. Definitely worth a visit to soothe that churros craving.

Vinitus


Canete — paella, razor clams

We enjoyed this Spanish cooking class on Airbnb Experiences hosted by the wonderful Carmen. She assigned different tasks — slicing the vegetables, cleaning the mussels, preparing the dessert — to our 12-person class. As we did our respective tasks, she told us wonderful stories about the different types of paella, gave helpful cooking tips.

he highlight of Barcelona is seeing the Sagrada Familia, a basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi. It was more beautiful that I had ever imagined. I highly recommend paying a few extra euros to join the morning guided tour so you can ask the guide questions about the intricacies of this fascinating basilica without the usual throngs of tourists who visit in the afternoon.

I was blown away by the immense detail and symbolism. Antoni Gaudi was ahead of his time, avant garden

If you are an art lover, you’re in for a treat at the Picasso Museum, where you will see the transition of Picasso’s art styles throughout his life. I was surprised to learn that he first made realist paintings.