Tapas capital of the world
01.08.2007 - 03.08.2007 26 °C
Friday | August 03, 2007
We are now in Basque Country - some might say only just, but I'm sure that's not the way the inhabitants of Spain's most fashionable watering hole feel about their beautiful city. San Sebastian is just over the border from France, pretty close to that other magnet for the trendy wealthy, Biarritz. Basque is spoken all over this part of the north coast, into France as well, and there is a fierce pride in the evident differences in culture, cuisine and even the landscape. It was astonishing to take the West to East trail through the Pyrenees, and see the terrain change from hour to hour.
From the high reaches of the picturesque ski town of Benasque we reached the colourful and lively Aragonese town of Jaca, which was in the throes of one of its many August Fiestas, with costumed brass bands from many countries playing all round the streets. The following day we found ourselves climbing again and in a quiet mountain pasture we saw a calf being born, the sound of its mother's gently swinging bell accompanying its wild attempts to stand on brand new gangly legs.
The stumpy gorse of the high Pyrenees was in cream and yellow flower, a deceptive cushion of soft and inviting moss, but not for sitting on. From here we barrelled down through the golden haze of Navarra's rolling wheat plains, dust and heat literally floating in the dry air.
Then, northbound for the coast and San Sebastian, where we are treating ourselves to a plush hotel on the beach promenade, and sampling the most spectacular tapas I have ever encountered in Spain. The choice is mind-boggling, but I am learning at last that eyes are bigger than stomachs, and take only one 'pinxo' at a time.