San Sebastián (Donostia)
San Sebastián, Donostia in Basque, is a city of pintxo bars and Basque separatists. And this is true. For nowhere in Spain is the fierce regionalism that characterizes the Basque Country as passionately displayed as in San Sebastián. Here, Donostiarras, as the locals are known, openly speak of their desire to forge an independent homeland. They are a spirited lot, the Donostiarras. When they are not discussing separatist politics or surfing or sunbathing on the San Sebastián beaches, they go pintxo bar hopping, bouncing from bar to bar in large groups, downing glasses of txakoli – a mildly sparkling dry white wine. It's the Basque style of partying, surprisingly contagious, which even the unwary tourist quickly begins to emulate. (Pintxo, by the way, is a tapas-type bar snack, spiked with a pincho – toothpick or skewer – hence pintxo.)
San Sebastián's big draw is its old quarter, Parte Vieja, a hugely atmospheric warren of narrow streets packed with pintxo bars, clubs and small Basque restaurants. It is one of the main reasons to come to San Sebastián. Other priorities are Calle 31 de Agosto, the oldest street in town, on which are two of the city's holiest churches; the beachside promenade at La Concha; and the posh, boutique- and restaurant-laden Centro.
San Sebastián is situated on the Bay of Biscay on the north coast of Spain, in the region of El Pais Vasco (Basque Country), just 20 kilometers from the French border, across which lie Bayonne and the French Basque Country. The city has a population of roughly 186,000.
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