Pintxos in San Sebastian

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San Sebastian has been at the top of my travel list for a long time now. And now I’ve been it’s still there, I’m already planning to come back! Beautiful sandy beaches and amazing food, this is a must-do experience – especially if you’re even remotely into food.

This is one of the top places in the world to eat and best of all for the most part it’s very affordable and there’s lots for you to try! The region’s speciality is a form of tapas called pintxos, named after the skewers that often hold each creation together. Bars around the old town in San Sebastian feature an array of colourful creations laid out on the bar for you to choose from. The idea is that you have a drink and one or two pintxos of what each bar does best before moving on.

Pintxos bars to try:

La Cuchara is one of the best rated bars, the scallop with jamon is on my must try list for next time

Bar Zeruko features fabulous artistic creations across the bar, make sure you order the specialty of smoked cod (bacalao a la hoguera)

Casa Gandarias for tender sirloin

Munto had a delicious and simple mushroom dish, and a plate of prawn skewers so fresh and delicious I couldn’t stop eating them

Borda Berri for risotto de hongos (mushroom with orzo), definitely one of our favourites!

Goiz Argi for the delicious prawn skewers (brocheta de gambas), one of the best dishes we tried

La Cepa is one of the more famous bars, known for it’s jamon

– And finish off your pintxos crawl with cheesecake from La Vina. Also available to take away if you can’t manage to eat it right away.

Map of Places to go in San Sebastian

Tips for San Sebastian

– try Txakoli, a young white wine typical of the Basque Country, is served extremely cold and poured from a height to force fizz into the liquid. It’s deliciously acidic. A glass will set you back €1.50.

– Look around at what others are having if you aren’t sure of the specialty of the bar, often it’s a hot dish that needs to be ordered from the blackboard

– Most of the staff won’t speak English but they’re good humoured and pointing and saying ‘por favore’ will get you a long way

– Generally you won’t know how much anything costs but it’s all pretty good value (most pintxos are between €1-€3) so just enjoy and remember it will be worth it.

– Don’t stay for too long in one place, try and limit yourself to two dishes per place so you can visit as many as possible.

– Once you’ve made your way around the best pintxos places try a restaurant instead. The tasting menu at Fuegro Negro  is supposed to be very good. Their signature dish of makobe with txips (a wagyu beef slider on a tomato bun with banana chips) was interesting but not particularly memorable. One of their dishes on the tasting menu, “Paloma, tiro, PUM!” is a pigeon breast with a licorice bullet and beetroot “blood” spatter over the plate.

– Walk around the glorious beachfront or up Mount Urgell to build up an appetite

– Get a delicious sandwich (bocadillo) takeaway for the trip back from Taberna Dakara or for your trek up Mount Urgell

– The locals seem to eat with their hands before throwing the napkin on the floor (seeing them strewn on the floor is supposed to be a sign of a good place) but I wouldn’t stress about using a plate as you’ll probably stand out in other ways too

– Wander out of the old town and across the river to explore nearby Gros where the locals go – Hidalgo 56 and Bodega Donostorria are both very well regarded. Visit La Gintoneria for a refreshing and delicious gin and tonic from their impressive selection.

Check out this website before you go to plan your pinxtos crawl by finding each bar’s specialty.

 

Mackobe Burger With Planta Txips at Fuegro Negro
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Assortment of savoury pintxos as Bar Zeruko
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Smoked cod at Bar Zeruko
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Gin and Tonics being created at La Gintoneria
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Explore the underground canals in Antwerp

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I’ve heard that Antwerp is a great cheap option for a city break but at first look it seemed like it was all about the diamonds and the zoo which I wasn’t bowled over by. But digging a little deeper I’ve discovered that the city sits on an underground network of canals and tunnels called The Ruien that can be explored with a guide and a pair of gumboots. The walk through the medieval sewage system takes around 3 hours and tours need to be booked ahead by phone.

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For more information click the link below:

http://www.visitantwerpen.be/Bezoekerssite-EN/Visitors/to-do/Visitors-to-do-attractions/Visitors-to-do-attractions-ruien.html

Photo from www.visitantwerpen.be

Escape in Budapest

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Looking for something different to do in Budapest? Sign up for Claustrophilia, Budapest’s “best” live room escape challenge where you race against the clock to get out of a room by solving puzzles. It’s actually one of lots of escape games that have popped up in the last few years in Budapest, making the most of the city’s dilapidated buildings in a similar way to the ruin bars. Claustrophilia is one of the more popular ones, and is currently one of Budapest’s top ranking activities on TripAdvisor.

See the Guardian’s article on Claustrophilia

For more unusual things to do in Budapest read my previous post

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Try the Black Squid Buns at this cool Paris Bakery

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Hip Parisian baker Gontran Cherrier’s boulanger in Montmatre houses his colourful creations – red buns made with paprika, zesty green rocket flavoured rolls and the strikingly black squid ink buns that I’m dying to try.  Also popular are a rye and red miso bread, chocolate and sizchuan peppercorn brioche and savoury tarts.

Gontran Cherrier has also opened shops in Shanghai and Tokyo where I’m sure his culinary creations are right at home.

Boulangerie Gontran Cherrier is located at 22 Rue Caulaincourt  75018 Paris, France

Colourful chaos at the Flower Market in Bangkok

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The  Flower market in Bangkok, Pak Khlong Talat, is open 24 hours – like most markets it’s busiest in the early morning but we went in the early evening and found plenty of action. If you’re a photographer it’s worth a visit to try and capture some of the colourful chaos.

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The Underground Wonder of Tokyo

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Ever since I first heard about this incredible underground space in Tokyo I’ve been dying to go and explore. The tours are available in Japanese only though so best make friends with an adventurous local 🙂

JapanGasm

It’s simply an engineering marvel, and unquestionably one of the most awe-inspiring wonder spots of Japan.

It has been described as “the concrete junkie’s equivalent to a dropper of heroin”.

And it lies hidden underneath the outskirts of metropolitan Tokyo.


what is it  &  why was it made?

Since before the dawn of human history the rivers running into Tokyo Bay flowed through nature and (in recent centuries) agricultural land. But gradually since the mid-1950s, this land has undergone massive urbanization – a tenfold increase from 5% in 1955 to over 50% today. This has been primarily at the expense of rice fields and other agricultural land, land which used to absorb most of the rainfall in the area.

Of course as concrete replaced earth, the drainage systems built were simply not enough to cope with the humungous volumes of water falling during the typhoon season which, with each passing…

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Cute and Colourful Candy Striped Cottages in Portugal

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Love these very sweet striped beach houses at Costa Nova near Aveiro, Portugal. Aveiro is sometimes called the “Portugese Venice” because of its canals and gondolas.

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Image credit: María Durán/Flickr

See more of her lovely images here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/viajeados/