Wednesday, August 24, 2011

De pintxos por Donostia - San Sebastian August 23 & 24, 2011
 An aerial view of the city courtesy of Wikipedia since neither of the current traveling photographers had access to a helicopter.

Nos encontramos en San Sebastian, en estas tierras vascas junto al mar Cantábrico podemos disfrutar en el casco antiguo o casco histórico de su inmensa gastronomía, en los que destacan por su sencillez y sabor los afamados pintxos y de sus caldos, como el txakoli, un vino blanco que se escancia como la sidra y se sirve frío, un vino suave muy adecuado para acompañar los pinchos (en castellano).
Pasear junto al mar después de haber saboreado las exquisiteces de las innumerables tabernas y respirar ese aire impregnado de sal de la brisa marina... sensaciones y experiencias, vivencias en buena compañía... algo que no os debéis perder...

Pintxos de jamón con boquerones.  Pinchos (tapas) of ham & anchovies. 

Escanciando un poco de vino Txakoli.  Apparently the proper way to serve the Txakoli white wine is for the server to hold it above his head & pour from there.  Until the 1980s, txakoli was a home-made wine, drunk in the Basque County, Cantabria and Valle de la Mena, and was almost in danger of dying out towards the middle of the 19th century. However, since some varieties of txakoli in the Basque Country managed to achieve Denominación de Origen certification from 1994 onwards, its quality, spread and appeal have increased.

Servidor saboreando unos pinchos. Sergio engaging in one of his most favorite activities: tasting & enjoying whatever food and drink might be available.  No fussy eating for him.

           Después de un buen tapeo, nada mejor que una copa de pacharán.

Although I am not known for my adventurous attitude toward food and drink, I came to love this digestif made of sloe berries (a sort of plum).  Patxaran is made by soaking sloe berries, collected from the blackthorn shrub, along with a few coffee beans and a vanilla pod in anisette. The process produces a light sweet reddish-brown liquid around 25-30% in alcohol content by volume.  In addition to dictating the amount of sloe to be used, the regulating body for Pacharán Navarro insists that no colourings or flavourings be added and that the maceration last between one and eight months. (This is the new food/drink that I will be bringing home to Texas from this adventure!).

                         Panorámica de la costa de San Sebastian.

           Dusty talking to some fishermen as they are working on their boat.

The flag that we will see throughout our trip through the Basque Country (pais vasco) rather than the flag of Spain.  When we reach Guernica I learn a great deal more about the history of this autonomous region and the desire of many of its citizens to become a separate country from Spain.

Cartel publicitario.   I am putting a photo of this poster on the blog to show how the Basque language does not even remotely resemble Spanish: looks more like a cross between German, Russian & Greek! In Basque, the name of the language is officially Euskara and it is classified as a "language isolate." Scholars have found no link between Euskara/Basque and the Indo-European languages of the surrounding countries.  

Since I am now running on about 12 hours of sleep over 4 nights, I am allowing my traveling companion (who would definitely be considered a "foodie" were he American) to provide the description of our time here in San Sebastian.  Tomorrow we begin the actual Camino - today was spent getting prepared: I already sent about 5 pounds of junk back to the states, discovered during today's fantastic rainfall that my rain poncho does not actually protect the wearer from getting soaked (good to know prior to walking many hours in the rain!) and (I pray) getting a full night of sleep before we head out in the morning for Zarautz.   Expect to see many photos of Sergio enjoying the local cuisine while I survive on yogurt & granola (actually had pesto pasta today for lunch, but do not expect such luxury in the near future.) I definitely want to add for all my Austin readers that I am sitting outside in a typical cafe-bar wearing JEANS & a SWEATSHIRT!! And everything is wet & GREEN! Increíble!

Hasta la próxima.
Ubicación:San Sebastian (Donostia) - August 24, 2011
By Sergio & Dusty via Dusty's iPad.

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