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Can I Tell You About ... San Sebastian, Spain

JOURNAL

CAN I TELL YOU ... TAKE A TRIP AROUND THE WORLD AND SEE THE CULTURES THAT INSPIRE MY DESIGNS.

Can I Tell You About ... San Sebastian, Spain

Rafe Totengco

STAY

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra has the best views of Playa La Concha at any time of the day. Morning, noon and night you can sit at the cafe in front and watch people promenade along the bay. The rooms at the top floor each have a balcony where you can relax and watch the sunset before heading out to dinner. Every morning we woke up to the beautiful vista of the beach and the sea.
 

EAT

Dining at Arzak was a dream come true - but it wasn't easy to get a table. It took a few emails and connections to squeeze us into one of the world's best restaurants but it was so worth the trouble. Believe the hype, this family run restaurant is a must if you're in Donostia. Chef Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Chef Elena Arzak Espina have a culinary research lab on the premises where they have a comprehensive library of spices collected from all over the world and use them to experiment with new dishes. I was privileged enough to get an inside peek of the laboratory and the cavernous wine cellars that hold over 100,000 wine bottles. The cuisine honors traditional Basque cuisine but with a modern twist. They procure the best local ingredients and have some producers who sell exclusively to them. My favorite dishes were the Beet Root blood apple, apple injected with beetroot accompanied with creamy foie gras and potato “mother of pearl, the Ovo-lacto, egg with semi crunch shell with lactic leaves and curds and the grilled monkfish fillet with a crispy lobster roll and sea buckthorn. Each dish came with a glass of wine that complimented it. Needless to say it was an unforgettable feast.
 

MUST SEE

The Balenciaga Museum is a must if you're interested in seeing couture clothes from a bygone era. The trip to the town of Getaria is a pleasant drive along the coastline and if you leave in the morning you'll be back in Donostia by early afternoon. The museum is a modern statement built right next to Palacio Aldamar, a historic residence in the town. The foundation owns over 1,600 garments of which some are displayed through several floors according to themes and eras. A highlight worth noting were the digital animations showing the complexity of construction and patterns of some of the pieces on display. Through these micro-movies you could begin to understand and appreciate how his creative mind worked.
 

SHOP

Espadrilles are the footwear of choice for men, women and children all over Spain. Kokekoko is conveniently located a block away from the beach and is stocked with a rainbow of colors and patterns like a candy store. The prices are so reasonable it would be a crime to leave the store with just one pair.
 

DO

Pintxo Crawl is the equivalent to bar hopping. Start at Atari Gastroteka then move on to Bar Zeruko and A Fuego Negro as you work your way down the alley zig-zagging from one bar to another and end at La Cuchara de San Telmo . Each spot has a different specialty written on a chalkboard behind the bar. We tried a few items from every bar and took cues from what the locals were ordering. In case you're wondering how we made it to the end of the night without getting smashed: order the small beers called Zurita to make it through all the bars with your sobriety at least partially intact. We had an incredible evening, mingled with the locals, enjoyed little bites of decadence and lived to tell. The best dish we had was a plate of local mushrooms lightly fried in butter, with a raw egg cracked onto the plate, perfection!
 

WHAT I LOVED MOST

I love nothing more than to meander when I'm on vacation and Donostia is the perfect city for that. Everything is walking distance, especially from the Hotel Londres. We started down the promenade along Playa la Concha all the way to El Peine del Viento to see Eduardo Chillida's sculptures then made our way through the quaint area of La Parte Vieja lined with pintxo bars and shops, hiked up Monte Urgull, checked out the excellent San Telmo Museum , had a long lunch at La Cuchara de San Telmo, and ended the day watching the sunset with an Aperol. That's my idea of a vacation.