Tag Archives: Donostia

Swimming in Cantabrian Sea in December

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The weather yesterday was very bad, but I dint want to sit at home and went with my fried to SPA. We went to San Sebastian’s SPA at the coast called La Perla. It is very old and luxurious, before there were relaxing only very important and rich people. Nowadays it is opened to the public.

It has a many jacuzzis, swimming pool, gym under the water, different saunas, rooms for relaxing and a very, very beautiful view on a sea. After I got very warm I decided to make something crazy. So, we run into we sea. The water was about 6 degrees and it was raining like cats and dogs.  But I’ve got amazing feelings.

I would like to visit La Perla once more and I strongly recommend you to do this as well!!

Jon Warren: on San Sebastian and food

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jon-paginaJon Warren first arrived in Donostia-San Sebastian around 2002 on an ordinary summer’s evening that would eventually prove life-changing.

Stopping off for the night during a road trip down to Portugal, the vibrant atmosphere and sight of copious pintxos on the bar convinced Jon and his friend they had hit fiesta-time: “it was like: wow!”

Such was the draw of the place for Jon that on the way back they decided to spend two nights in the Gipuzkoa capital: “We had such a good time; standing on the Concha (beach) I said to my friend: ‘I’m going to live here one day’.”

True to his word, Jon returned to live in the city, though not after four years working in the City of London.

“Working in London.. I never really felt excited. Everyday on a desk,.. doing something I wasn’t passionate about, you think ‘surely this can’t be it’.”

“I quit my job in November 2007 just knowing I wanted to do something else… Doing this, I absolutely love it because every day’s an adventure, doing my own thing.”

Jon’s “own thing” is San Sebastian Food, his own self-run tour business. The aim of the company is to provide tourists over on a short break to the Basque Country with a culinary insight they may otherwise miss. It is inspired in what Jon calls his “six-month gastronomic adventure” sussing out the bars and discovering the best pintxos.

Jon’s personal interest in food is more broadly centred on the entire experience of eating; something which may be linked to some of his earliest memories: “I’ve got some great food memories, but always linked to the people I’m with. “

Reflecting on what aroused his love for all things culinary, Jon recalls his uncle Paddy, an “adventurer” who lived mostly in Sierra Leone, given to roasting whole pigs and baking bread on visits home to the family. It is an almost tangible memory that evokes warm summer evenings and smells of spit-roast pork wafting over lawns of playing children.

Capturing that more sensuous experience is what underlines a lot of Jon’s tours, which move away from the often sterile sensation of a restaurant, to the shouts and smells of a packed bar or busy farmers’ market; “I love Michelin-starred food but I’m a lot more interested in the social side of things,… pintxos, the cider houses, where it’s all about meeting your friends and chatting”.

Life change

Jon made the move to San Sebastian in January 2008. After an 8-week language course at Lacunza he went “armed with dodgy Spanish, a basic CV but plenty of enthusiasm” to seek work at the Villa Soro hotel in Ategorrieta. He did “a bit of everything.. bellboy, porter, barman…” though it would later prove to be a significant decision.

Aside from becoming for many guests an unofficial guide to the best places to eat, he would also, ironically perhaps, meet his English girlfriend Nicole, who came to stay at the hotel one weekend with a group of friends:

“She moved out here last May and I have her to thank for helping me so much; from brain-storming to proof reading she has helped enormously.”

As far as his success this side of the Atlantic, Jon is unreserved in his praise for the Basque people whom he has encountered over the past three years: “They’ve been so incredibly friendly from when I arrived… such warm, open people, so happy to help..

“Thanks to friends, for example, I’ve been able to make contacts with the cheese farm in Urnieta where we Jon Warren - culinar#7B6835do a tour with the owners,” says Jon.

Jon is modest about his own contribution to his success, a trait that goes down well in this part of the world. He is, by his own admission, sociable and often “gets chatting to people”, a characteristic of a natural networker and one that has helped him to open a lot of doors into the heart of the Basque culinary experience, sometimes literally.

Jon says his “strongest” food memory was in the Rioja with Nicole looking for somewhere to eat. With a predilection for talking to people – “old ladies especially” – they were finally led by one senior citizen to a restaurant that was seemingly locked up:

“She turned the lights on and said ‘right, what are you having?’; she cooked this lunch just for us with a nice bottle of wine…

“It was nothing amazing; the TV was blaring and the food wasn’t fabulous but for me that’s what it’s about: That incredible, unique experience”.

Start of the last month…

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Another week comes to an end and we’re starting to realize that there are only four of them left. Four weeks to enjoy every moment we have and meanwhile trying to obey our upcoming deadlines. This week didn’t really help doing that, since one of my best friends, Zahra, arrived on Wednesday and stayed until today. No complaints though, I really loved having her over! Continue reading

November, month of visits and work

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Well, it has been quite a while since the last post, time to get back into the blog-vibe. Alas, the flu has caught me by surprise, leaving me sick in bed at the moment. On the bright side: my cousin Anniek, my mum, and her boyfriend Jos came to visit me this week, making me the guide for a few days. Continue reading

Swimming in San Sebastian

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While the rain is pouring down in Belgium, it’s around 27 degrees in The Basque Country. So yesterday we decided to hit the beach in San Sebastian!

Continue reading

Waves of happiness

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In my previous post I told you I wanted to enjoy the last bits of post-summer, so that’s what I did in these past days. After a lazy Sunday of recuperating from the weekend, I headed to Donostia again on Monday to spend a day at the beach with Niké and Tiina. Continue reading

Donostia Zinemaldia!

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Saturday was the last day of the 57th San Sebastian Film Festival. We decided that this was an event we could not miss, so we asked our lagunas (Oihana, Eneko and Irati) to join. We took off in the morning and headed towards the Atlantic.  Continue reading

A Korean-Spanish international film festival!

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On the last day of the San Sebastian film festival, we finally made it there. Together with Oihana, Eneko and Irati, our Erasmus buddies, we took an early bus and spent the day in the neighbourhood of the red carpet, watching a low-budget Korean movie (Animal Town) and enjoying the sea. Continue reading

(A little bit) More of the same?

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I’ve thought about some ways to start this blog without having you all thinking that we don’t do anything else but partying and shopping, but alas, I have to be honest: we went to Vitoria-Gasteiz again yesterday! Together with Corine and Tiina – two other Erasmus students – Niké and I went on a typical girly shoe hunt, which we completed successfully. Continue reading

A (short) Mondragon break

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Today we met up with our laguna’s in Mondragon (Oihana, Eneko and Irati). They’re fellow students who guide as around the region. We went to the local Irish Pub (truly every city’s got one!) and got to know each other. Continue reading