Our Mount Urgell hike

When I first got my acceptance email into the San Sebastián program, the first thing I did was a deep search for the city on Google images. Once I found the most beautiful pictures I could find to text to my family, (in hopes I would convince them for me to go) I became ecstatic for my trip. The picture that stood out to me was taken from a satellite which had showed the bright blue bay that surrounded Santa Clara island, and La Concha beach. It also is directly diagonal from Mount Urgell, the hike we made today as a class. 

Our hike took place on our eight day of the trip and for the first time, it didn’t rain one bit. With the prior weeks forecast being a mix of cloudy and showers, I could feel the overall morale of the town spark. There were thousands of people spread across the beach, embracing the basque sun and heat. The other part of the population who wasn’t lounging in the sand was lined up on the sides of the street, waiting for the Tour de France race contestants to pedal through the central town streets. The beating sun holds the ability to show off the oceans vibrant blue water in a way I’ve never seen before. Among seeing the countless hands holding gelato, I heard laugher and I could feel an overall sense of joy.

The hike of Mount Urgell was one activities planned for our class that I was looking forward to the most. Personally, I love heights and will take any opportunity to hike in new places. Our class started our hike off with a set of extremely steep stairs off of Mari Kalea, which featured the direct gleaming sun. Fortunately this was nothing like the rest of the hike and our group was able to complete it with much more ease. 

At the end of the steps, awaited a smooth paved trail for us to walk on. Professor Zabalbeascoa directed us towards the hiking route with a shortcut, which only took us a group about 15 minutes to complete. The image from the Google search I made months prior to this journey was the motivation that got me through the leg pain. “Ooooo”, “beautiful” and many more compliments was expressed from my peers and I when we reached it. Experiencing the beauty of the Basque land on the ground level was one thing, but standing on top of Mount Urgell heartily called for instant admiration for this trip and country as a whole. 

The view showed the three different aspects of San Sebestian; the sea, the city and the countryside. The longer I looked at the contrast between the three areas, I began to realize how truly versatile the land of San Sebestian is. Looking inward towards the city I traced my bike route to school with my eyes; which involves many twists and turns. The memories of riding my bike through the chaos of the city is something I am confident I will never forget. Having a new perspective of land from a high place has always had the capability to cultivate a feeling of calmness within me. All of the bikes and cars seem to move in slow motion while you watch them from a high place. 

Our group also made our way towards the other side of the mountain that faced the sea. Past the Santa Clara island, as far as the human eye can see, there was nothing but the water of the Atlantic and two sailboats. The sun reflecting off of the water looked heavenly and the mountains in the far distance really added to the scenery’s beauty. The mountain also has the monument of the Sacred Heart, a figure that reaches 12.5 meters and towers over the mountain. 

There were a few hidden gems of this attraction includes the museum and outdoor bar. Our group just barely made it in the museum with just fifteen minutes until closing time. It was unexpectedly spacious and even had a movie theater. We shuffled through the museum and made our way up to the roof, where the Sacred Heart monument was. The view even more windy and higher than before. 

The other aspect of this attraction was the El Polvorin Bar, a classic Basque-style touch. This was the most amazing and candid looking bar I’ve ever seen. With a wide variety and mix of different cocktails and beverages being served, there were many people, young and old drinking in unison. If there’s one thing I learned about San Sebestian, it’s that the locals and their bars don’t discriminate against their senior citizens. It is known in Basque culture that removing isolation towards the senior population of a community, leads to longevity and a higher quality of life. One of the first things I learned during orientation for the trip was San Sebestians average life expectancy is extraordinarily high, rounding about 81 years for men and 86 years for women.

I’ve already made plans to return to Mount Urgell simply to experience gorgeous scenery once again.