One of the best things about blogging is that it has opened up a whole new world of travel friends for me. As well as *always* having someone to talk travel with, I also have an instant sounding board for future trips I’m planning.
I love to get travel recommendations from other like-minded travel peeps, so as soon as we had settled on San Sebastian for our minimoon destination I did a shout out on the Twittersphere to ask what we should do there. Some of the first people to get back to me were my travel buddies Em, aka The Vagabond Feminist, who had recently been on a Urban Adventures tour in Istanbul and was raving about the travel company, and Kasha, from Lines of Escape, who sent me a whole heap of food recommendations.
More on the food coming up in a later post, but we decided to follow Em’s advice and book a tour with Urban Adventures San Sebastian. Despite promising ourselves this was going to be a holiday where we laid on the beach doing nothing, we couldn’t resist choosing a tour called the Saint James Adventure. Ever since I read Wise Monkeys Abroad’s experiences of hiking the The Camino de Santiago, I’ve been really interested in the walk which stretches through France and Spain.
Obviously we didn’t have time to do a whole pilgrimage but this tour promised a snap shot of the experience, with a five/six hours walk from San Sebastian to the village of Pasai.
We arrived at our meeting point and were met by our guide for the day, the extremely lovely Maria. We quickly discovered she has a soft spot for English people, having lived in the UK for a few years, so we knew we were in good hands.
We set off and were instantly swept up in stories about San Sebastian from Maria. The great thing about Urban Adventures is that the tours are given by locals, who really love the place where they live. That was obvious from Maria’s stories, which ranged from the history of the city to her own childhood memories of it, which made it much more personal.
The stretch of coastline we hiked along was stunning and despite the fact that there was a mist over some of the bays we still had great views.
We also had the luxury of just being able to carry our small daypacks, unlike the proper ‘pilgrims’ who have huge backpacks with the signature shells hanging off the back.
The walk wasn’t too strenuous, although there were one or two steeper parts, so the tour’s physicality grading of “medium” seemed fair.
Along the way we stopped for a snack of local chorizo, cheese and olives and learnt more from Maria about the food scene in San Sebastian (more of that to come later).
We continued along the way, passing groups of children effortlessly running up the hills to school and villagers doing their daily chores; causing much amusement as we tried calling out Epa! (hello in the Basque language). We also stopped to drink fresh spring water.
Around five hours later we arrived at a little inlet which we crossed by boat to arrive at Pasai, a village of just one street.
After short walk to a bar we sat down to eat pinxtos and people-watch until it was time to head home. Luckily for these fake pilgrims, it was just a bus ride back!