Four-Day Weekend: Exploring Europe!

The weekend started on Thursday night with one of the most popular events of the week, Pintxo Pote. This social event happens every Thursday night where bars have Pintxos (a finger food usually held together with a skewer) and a drink for 3 euros and you hop around to different bars for the night. The streets are filled with people of all age groups exploring all of the different bars and enjoying various foods and drinks of their choice. As the night goes on you follow the crowd of people at each bar to know where the next pintxos are. It is popular because it is a fun social event for friends and family to bond over their love for food at such an affordable price. My favorite pintxo of the night was a steak with a few fries and a piece of bread. The steak melted in my mouth as I took a bite, it was simple but so rich, a true example of Basque food. Although it was seasoned simply, it brought out the fresh taste and increased the quality of the pintxo overall.

On day two of the four-day weekend my friends and I decided to plan a day trip to Biarritz. Earlier in the week we visited the beautiful town for only a couple of hours, but we just had to go back to fully capture the town for what it is. When we came back we got to walk around and take in more of the French Basque culture. It was so refreshing to have a change in the scenery and language. I speak Haitian Creole and it has a lot of similarities to the French language, so hearing “Bonjour” and “Merci” everywhere reminded me of being around my family and it gave me a sense of comfort after being away from them for two weeks. It was interesting how similar San Sebastian and Biarritz are, considering they are in two different countries, but share the same Basque culture. I still saw just as many Pintxos bars with similar menus to what I would see in Spain and Basque bakeries all around. We ended up spending the day at the beach which was somehow even more stunning than La Concha and I did not believe it was possible. Spending our afternoon at the beach was so tranquil and I felt at peace. This day was a nice reset from a week of classes and other events, it was nice to see a different place with a different change of pace. We ended our day trip perfectly by catching the breathtaking sunset. 

Day three we wanted to explore more in San Sebastian by visiting the San Telmo Museum and learning more about Basque history. They had two exhibitions happening at the time: Clima Ideal(ideal climate) and Voyager Pour Peindre(Traveling to Paint). Clima Ideal conveys all of the advertisements San Sebastian made an effort to get more people to come and explore their beautiful city and beaches with the perfect weather for summertime. The other exhibit Voyager Pour Peindre was about Joaquin Sorolla, who was a painter who loved San Sebastian and spent a lot of time there with his family. He conveyed the city’s beauty in his paintings of the beaches and sunsets that were almost impossibly realistic to what the beaches look like in real life. Both of these exhibits helped get the word out about San Sebastian’s charm and helped it develop into the city we see today. Especially, being here in the summer and seeing how many tourists are attracted to the culture of the Basques, the Pintxos, burnt basque cheesecake, beaches, surfing, and so much more they have to offer.

This leads to the final day of the weekend, the most popular week for San Sebastian in the summer. Every week in the summer the bigger cities in Spain, each have their own themed weeks. This was the start of San Sebastian’s Great Week (Aste Nagusia​​), which has fireworks. Every day a different fireworks show is featured and you have the chance to vote online for your favorite one. The streets of San Sebastian were filled with people from all around the world coming to celebrate their Great Week and enjoy their Basque iconic food. As the time for the show inched closer, the railings at the view of the beach were filled with more and more people. The sky was filled with so many different colors and sparks, with every pause the crowd cheered in amazement. It was a truly fascinating show to watch and think about how people even put shows like this together. I cannot wait to see the rest of the competitors for the week.

This trip has been so special to me because ever since I was in high school I dreamt of exploring the world and starting that journey through study abroad. After years of undergraduate as a nursing major, I had heard how hard it was for us to actually study abroad without falling behind so I put that dream on the back burner. When I learned about the summer study abroad opportunity it gave me hope that it could happen. Fast forward to making it into the program and living in San Sebastian for the past two weeks, the younger me would be so proud. I have been able to learn a whole new bus system in an entirely different country where I do not speak the language fluently and become so confident in myself. Before I would be very hesitant to travel by myself in a new area, but in this case I had no other choice and worked with what I had. It was scary in the beginning, but the feeling of accomplishment is so empowering. I am so grateful for this experience and will take the lessons I have learned along with me everywhere I go.