San Sebastián

If you happen to be planning to spend your next vacation in San Sebastián, get ready to swallow a serious amount of salty water. But let me speak about the city first of all. As long as the weather does not go crazy, San Sebastián is a magical place to camp, surf and go for a beer or two. There are few places as majestic as the coastline which wraps around the city of San Sebastián in the Basque Country: beachfronts lined with architecture and restaurants; and a world class museum. It is a rare place where the sophistication of an interesting city intersects with a surf culture made possible by its perfect swells.

It is also home to the world’s premiere surf film festival, the Surfilmfestibal – a kind of Cannes of the surf film festival circuit, featuring a mix of films from the best of the big budget international productions to arthouse, indie and environmental films, as well as a sampling of local surf culture. All of it is screened in the city’s legendary “Teatro Principal” cinema located in the old part of the city.

There is a camp site named Higueldo on the top of one of the many little mountains that surround the city. I still remember complaining about those beautifully curvy and crooked roads the night we missed the last bus and had to go back on foot. It took 2 hours. Wild camping has therefore proven to be the best choice in San Sebastián for people who like to go for a beer or two every night – as long as you are a tourist and do not have a Spanish identity card, since the police do not seem to be merciful with their 300 Euro fine on wild campers from their own country. No matter how good you are at hiding a tent and how many miles into the woods you walk to do it, at eight in the morning they will find you without warning and regardless of how sleepy you are, you will be forced to pack up your things and go.

Now let’s speak about surfing. Waves that from the shore looked pretty tame will suddenly be all up in your face and pushing you around all over the place. Your dreams of looking like a smooth surfer will be crushed as your hair is matted to your face and you flail around gasping with snot pouring out your nose. However, this is all a part of it – every surfer goes through it. Hang loose, there are plenty of beginners in San Sebastián and you can guarantee that even though you may feel like you’re making a fool of yourself, there is always going to be somebody who is worse than you. But really this is not the point, just learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy it!

Dario Möbius-Gomez

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