San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

Our first night in San Sebastian may have been the best night of our trip thus far. After a night in Barcelona we felt pretty icky and needed a pick-me-up.  Goodness were we glad after our gorgeous drive in to San Sebastian that we found Bodega Donostiarra in the heart of the city. We were greeted with a smile, shown around the menu, and then told about Txokoli.  We were made to feel like locals. Oh my…it was a perfect night to say the least.  When we woke the next morning we all were not about to let the wind and rain beat us out of seeing this new city.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

We bundled up in our rain coats, warmest layers, and boots and took a 20 minute walk from our apartment into the city for breakfast at Hogar Dulce Hogar. We chose an apartment just outside of the city because San Sebastian is pretty small, but also pretty pricey.  To save a little we decided a little extra walking meant that we could buy a few extra pintxos (Basque’s word for Tapas).  We didn’t feel guilty because, after all, we would be getting 40 extra miles of walking everyday.  Truthfully we never were bothered by the walk, and it honestly was very cool to get a view of the city this way.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

We arrived early enough, to see the town’s morning routine. The vendors were out even with the chill in the air. There was fresh food everywhere on the street. A fresh scent of the ocean left you realizing you were but blocks from a surfer’s paradise. The sweet scent took over the air of the town and I had no complaints especially after the smell of the city that we had become accustom to in Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

The people here were friendlier than any the people we encountered in the other cities. They were very open and willing to help. There was a true love for life in this city that was very contagious.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

Before the weather worsened and before we got a good cup of coffee, we were determined to see the water, so we took the extra block to wander over to the shoreline.  We felt instantly at home as we watched brave surfers take the waves head on that the storm was bringing in.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

After breakfast, Wes and Linda decided to wander around the city.  We opted to stay in and work for a while. The weather got pretty rough and it ended up being the perfect day for some extra work.  Once the storm broke we headed out to explore Old Town and to let our feet guide us through the city.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

The city is split by a river and there are gorgeous bridges that connect each peninsula. It is absolutely magical. The town felt somewhere between parts of Paris mixed with classical Spanish decor. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

As we wandered over the bridge, we entered into the hippest area of San Sebastian that is known for the multitude of winding streets, pintxo bars, and the ever flowing streams of Txokoli (simply put this is a white wine with an over 12% alcohol level. They pour it high above the glass to release oxygen into the drink which brings out the flavor. It is very cheap, and I highly suggest nabbing a glass or bottle with friends). The design and type was very interesting throughout the city. All of the pintxo bars had a very distinct type to them that felt like something out of the Flinstones, but every once and a while you would catch some really amazing type that seemed to break the traditional mold.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

The rainy days, which were a large part of the beginning of our trip, made me really glad for a few items I packed in my bag such as my backpack from Everlane that kept our laptops, cameras, and other equipment dry.  My waxed jacket (this one I am wearing will release in the Fall..see similar) from Bridge and Burn has seriously been the only way I have been able to get through the crazy weather…FOR REAL! This coat has been my daily wear nearly everyday we have been in Spain. If you need a new versatile coat for life or travel check out their coats because I am in love with mine. Also my Madewell biker boots have been great for wandering the cities.  Even in the rain they have kept my feet warm and dry and have gained quite the well-traveled patina in the process. These are all things I feel so lucky to have with me especially during a day like this one in San Sebastian.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

After nabbing a few pintxos at a traditional bar in Old Town, we saw an amazing staircase that went up the hill so we thought why not take it up.  This is how we travel. Whenever we see a cool street that feels “right”, we take it. Sure enough as we wandered up we found the trail that takes you to an amazing view of the city.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

We wandered up the hill over the harbor and then around to a gorgeous view of the bay. Even in the cold and drizzle the churning water below was gorgeous and refreshing to see.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

Honestly we could have hung out up there forever, watching the water crash against the rocks of the island. The small white lighthouse flickered its light in the waning daylight, and we simply took time to enjoy the view as long as we could without getting a cold.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

There is no way that any camera could take in the view and experience of this landscape. The smell alone could never be expressed through a photo.  It could only be experienced if you were to stand on that perch and take in the decadent aromas of the air for yourself. Oh the scent of fresh rain, the ocean, and lush trees. It was like heaven.

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

San Sebastian, Spain: Day 7  |  The Fresh Exchange

One thing is for sure, San Sebastian is a true treasure. This city may be one of my favorites in Spain so far. I love the big cities for other reasons, but San Sebastian stole my heart that first full day. I felt alive, renewed, and as if life truly felt clear again. It was the moment in our trip I was waiting for. I never expected it would be this small coastal town that would have brought me to where I needed to be. It still shocks me, but there, even in the chilly rain and blowing sea mist, I felt that I could see clearly again.

 

 

From Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive: Day 6

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we were planning our trip we wanted to find a way to see the landscape of Spain as much as possible. Though we knew we needed to take some planes and trains we thought if there was a point where we could rent a car, we should do it. After some research and a quick chat with our friend from Seville, Hayley, we decided it would be a great choice to pick one up in Barcelona and drive it to San Sebastian. This way, we would get to drive it along the Northern Coast of Spain until we drop it off in Bilbao before heading to Portugal (because of the pricey tolls, it costs a lot of money to drive a car in Portugal, as we learned from Hayley).

So that morning we got up, left our gorgeous apartment in Barcelona and headed north through Zaragoza and Pamplona. I love road trips because you get to see a side of a place you would never see otherwise. Sure enough this road trip did not disappoint.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

The landscape outside of Barcelona felt much like parts of Southern California, where everything was very arid and full of agave plants and cacti. We saw tons of rabbits scattering through the low grasses. It was really quite beautiful.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

Just after we made our way through Zaragoza the landscape began to change from arid plains to more lush farmlands. Not too long after that we began to climb through the Southern Pyrenees Mountains. I knew that the drive would be full of hills, but did not expect there to be snow-capped mountains and for the landscape to look so similar to what I would expect in Ireland or the Northern UK.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

The tiny towns and the hills covered in sheep were gorgeous. The rain began to come down lightly and we all instantly felt this relaxation that, honestly, only the mountains can bring.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

I highly suggest nabbing a car in Barcelona or maybe even Madrid to drive north. You will hit tolls, but it will still be cheaper than the train, even after the gas. The drive is beautiful and so easy. We put the directions on our iPad and only got a little lost when we arrived in San Sebastian, but thankfully people were kind enough to help us find our way.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

All I know is that after over a week in enjoying the fast paced life of the cities, it felt amazing to see the rolling green hills and snow covered mountains, and to experience the slowness of the farm life in the mountains of Spain. We quickly also saw the influence of the French culture in the architecture as we entered the Basque region. The language changed to Basque and we were anxious to experience the new region.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

It made us very excited to land in San Sebastian and to discover a whole new city. We knew anything set amongst these mountains must be something amazing. Sure enough we were right.

Barcelona to San Sebastian Drive in Spain  |  The Fresh Exchange

The next few days I will share about our experiences in San Sebastian, driving the northern coast of the Basque region, and how we fell in love with Bilbao in a way we never expected. So much more to come!

Barcelona, Spain Day 5

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5 | The Fresh Exchange

Our first full day in Barcelona was a total whirlwind. Without realizing it we only really allowed for a full day here, which made me a little sad because I know this city has so much to offer. Many people told me I would love Barcelona and others told me it was not their favorite so I was excited to experience it for myself. I think when you travel, different places affect you in different ways. The more I see the more I realize that what I love someone else may hate and that is perfectly ok. Nonetheless, I 100% believe this is a city everyone must see and experience whether you think you will hate it or love it. Seville was beautiful and special but there is something truly amazing about Barcelona that one must experience. As an epicenter of design and culture fused with coastal city life and the traditions of Spain, it is a unique city in the world of its own.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5 | The Fresh Exchange

When we arrived by plane from Seville we met our friends, Wes and Linda, who had flown from Germany to join us. Once we had our car we met our host, Dodo, at our gorgeous Airbnb apartment. She was the sweetest thing to help us with parking and to help us get settled and find some dinner. We had rented a car to travel through the Northern half of Spain during our trip, thus we needed help with finding a safe and convenient place to park within the city. She helped us find a place that allowed long term parking for a decent price. Thankfully our apartment was located in a quieter and less touristy area of Barcelona so it was not hard to find a good place to park.

Once we got settled our first night, we ate dinner out on a pedestrian street just a few blocks away at a cute tapas and wine bar, Blai 9. The major difference we noticed during our first night in Barcelona was how people did not eat or stay out as late as they did in the South. Though most food isn’t served till nearly 8, they do not stay open much later than 11 unless it is a club or bar dedicated to drinking. Very different from Seville and Madrid.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5 | The Fresh Exchange

After dinner we came back and got some rest for our long day ahead of exploring as much of Barcelona as possible.

The next day we woke up and took it easy. We had a simple meal of bread and jam and coffee before heading out to the La Boqueria Market just a few blocks from our apartment. There in the market we experienced some of the best food culture we had seen. Down in the South the food was far more fried and it was not common to see reasonably priced fresh produce served as fresh menu items. In Barcelona it was the opposite. Within the market we saw some of the freshest fish, meats, fruits, and veggies I had seen throughout our trip. It is incredibly diverse in comparison to what I have seen in other parts of Europe. All of which has come from the area right there around Barcelona.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5 | The Fresh Exchange

Many people had suggested we grab some fresh juice at the market and some other goodies such as chocolate covered figs and of course the jamon as well. We decided that we would nab a few items to take with us for lunch and a picnic in the park. Walking away from the market we spent about 20 euro on snacks and juices between the 4 of us. Pretty great for a lunch in the city.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5 | The Fresh Exchange

From there we jumped on the metro, which we were told to download a metro map app, but forgot and were extremely lost.  I suggest grabbing this one to help you navigate the city.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

 

We headed up to the Park Guell area to have a picnic, which so many people told us was a complete must. Thus we took the escalators up and found a great spot to enjoy our small meal together overlooking the whole city of Barcelona including the ocean and so many other gorgeous land marks. We did not pay to go in as there are a lot of areas around the park that are open to the public. I know it is a pretty fun thing to wander, but for how little time we were there we felt we could not dedicate the adequate time, so we wandered the rest of the area and took in what we could from above and around the walls.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

From there we wandered back in to the city. We thought we would try to find a metro, but we never naturally came upon one.  We had not downloaded a proper map to show us where one was so we just started walking toward our next destination which was El Borne for shopping, coffee, croissants, and relaxation.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

This resulted in nearly a 3 hour hike through the city.  Even though it left us rather tired and sore, we loved seeing so much of Barcelona by foot. Eventually we all made it into the El Borne area and fell in love. This area reminded me a lot of Montemartre in Paris. It had tons of gorgeous shops, cafes, restaurants, and interesting artisan experiences. I highly suggest wandering through here for a while. I really wish we could have spent more time here.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

While wandering through we stopped at Bubo for some coffee and croissants that were all outstanding. This place was super easy and offered english menues as well since our Spanish is not really awesome. We try hard to make an effort as it always eases the tension of being a tourist in a city where there are many tourists around.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

On our way back toward our apartment we also wandered through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The architecture is gorgeous and amazing. If you are someone who loves architecture at all this will be a beautiful walk for you. We did not get everywhere in this area as I hoped, but it honestly was really beautiful from what we got to see.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Once we returned back to our apartment we had a few drinks on our patio and then headed out for Paella at a restaurant down the street from us. We figured we needed to have this before we headed much further north into the Basque region as this is not common fare at all in that area. We wanted to enjoy the cuisines in their specific areas as much as we could. Though Paella is from Valencia we figured this was as close as we would get on this trip. The paella was great and so was the wine, but we had a little issue with our waiter about the pricing and wording of the menu. It was a little rough, so I am not going to recommend the place to y’all.  I highly suggest finding as great of a paella experience as you can because it is honestly a great dish to share with a friend and a glass of wine.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

After dinner we headed back had some good talks on our little patio and felt thankful for such a beautiful day in the city. We were sad to say we only had that one day as we felt Barcelona needed more time from us, but we were glad we saw as much as we did.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Since we only had one full day in Barcelona I am not sure I am fully prepared to give my full feelings about my level of love or dislike for Barcelona. I feel I will need to come again in order to give it the fairest and most honest assessment. We had a few poor encounters with local vendors taking advantage of us as tourists with pricing.  I have a little problem with people who do this in tourist cities and have rarely seen or had these issues other than when we were in Beijing, China in college. I don’t take too kindly to this mentality especially as someone who grew up in a town full of tourists during specific seasons.

Barcelona, Spain: Day 5  |  The Fresh  Exchange

Besides that experience I really loved the amount of art, culture, funk, style, flavors, and diversity in this city. I truly wish I was able to give it the adequate time it really needed as this city is very large with so many fun and cool things to do. With every trip you learn new things and things you would do again and things you would different.  If I would give someone my advice on Barcelona, I would say to give it at least 2-3 days. Go outside the city as well as enjoy the depths of the downtown areas. This is a city full of wildness and is probably more alive and moving than many cities I have been to in the world. It is more touristy than many other cities in Spain, but this city is one to be experienced for sure. Be smart, be clear with people, and remember it is a city in which you are a tourist.  If you make the effort to learn their culture, it will be a good experience I promise!

Seville, Spain: Day 4

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

We fell asleep the night before thinking that the sun would only be shining the day before during our time in Seville and that would be it, but we awoke to a wonderful and brilliant surprise of a gorgeous sunny day. Our plans of hunkering in to our apartment and working were quickly dashed in order to enjoy the beauty of the city.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

We met up with Caroline and Jayden again and decided to simply make the most of the day. We began at a small cafe where we had coffee, croissants, and nutella. There we sat with our coffee and croissants, chatting about life and work. We chatted about the struggles of owning a business as a married couple and the rough things that can come in to play along the way. It was a heavy but real conversation that I think was necessary for us to each share our experiences and fears.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

After breakfast we decided to wander the city, hopping from cafe to cafe, eating at as many different tapas as possible, and, oh yeah, having as much sangria as we could conceivably handle.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

The day before we had talked about heading up to the top of the El Mirador (the largest wooden structure in the world) that sits in the heart of Seville. It is this amazing structure that canopies a section of the city and it is absolutely beautiful. We paid 6 euros a piece and took the elevator up. We wandered to the top, snapped photos, and had a lot of good laughs about the crazy places our travels had taken us. The coolest part about coming up here is that you can not only experience a wonderful view but your ticket gets you a drink as well. So we climbed to the top and enjoyed the sun and drank beers and ate some awesome olives.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

From there we decided it was time for a good lunch before we took some time to relax and work. So we wandered till we found a place that felt just right. Sure enough the food was amazing and so were the drinks. In fact Volapie was one of the best places we had lunch at while in Seville. The presentation and everything was spot on as were the super sweet wait staff. I highly recommend stopping in here for a lunch or tapas.

As we tied up lunch we realized we needed to take some time to take photos of each other because we each rarely get photos of each other as couples. We decided to wander back, grab our better cameras, have a little siesta, and enjoy the sunset on our roof top terrace at our awesome airbnb space on the Alamada Plaza.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Sure enough it was very simple. We pulled together some chocolate, granola, dried fruit, fresh oranges, and wine. We took the lift up and pulled together our little snack table. We sat among the potted fruit trees and watched as the rain clouds rolled in. It was a ton of fun and honestly the best way to end our last full day in Seville.

There we hung for nearly 2 hours until the rain made us bring our party back to the coziness of our apartment. We hung out and talked about where we were going next. For us it was Barcelona and for them it was Morocco. In every way they made me want to jump a plane with them to see Morocco.  They totally sold me on the idea of that country. It sounded amazing and extremely special.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

To end the evening we headed back to a bar Mike and I had wanted to try called Bar Antojo.  We were the first in the door at 8:30 and the kitchen wasn’t opening till 9, but we sat anyways. We enjoyed some sparkling water and continued conversation about work and life and then once the kitchen opened we ordered tapas and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

When we finally needed to head back home, the rain had rolled in and was coming down. We said goodbye and offered good luck to each for the next chapters of our trip. It felt sad to say goodbye, but I am so glad they had been apart of our trip. I always believe people come in to your life for reasons and so I am excited to see what the future brings in our relationship in the years to come. I also feel so inspired by listening to their own story of love, creating, and chasing their dreams. It felt wonderful and refreshing to enjoy so many meals with such kindred spirits. Truly it felt like a very special weekend.

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

Seville, Spain: Day 4  |  The Fresh Exchange

In the morning we will fly to Barcelona and meet up with our college friends, Wes and Linda, who currently live in Germany. We are so excited to spend time together for the next 10 days.

On to Barcelona my friends!