Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 7 - The best day ever, Igeldo and Pintxos Crawl

Day 7 - October 7, 2013

The plan for the day was to go to Igeldo by the funicular to get the views of the beach and the city. We had stayed in Igeldo last September and fell in love with what we saw.  That was the reason that brought us back to San Sebastian.  Terry researched all the bus routes that would give us the most direct way to the funicular. Though it told us to get off at one stop and walk to another, Terry found out that we could get off at La Perla and just get the other bus right there to take us to the funicular on Igeldo.  Saved a lot of time.

We arrived at the funicular and paid our way to the top.  Our plan was to walk down to the hotel we stayed at after we saw the sights at the top of the funicular.

The funicular to the top of Igeldo

Once at the top, we entered into the amusement park that is closed for the season.  The views from here are spectacular.  Here are a few photos of looking down on San Sebastian.  This is the reason for our return.  Absolutely beautiful!!

Santa Clara Island situated between Igeldo and Monte Urgill

View of La Concha Beach from Igeldo

San Sebastian

View of Monte Urgill looking out from Igeldo

Terry went to explore the amusement park area.  The tower of Terror is actually part of the hotel situated at the top of the funicular.

We had some great photo opportunities while we were up at the amusement park.  Now it was time to head back down toward Leku Eder, the hotel we stayed at last September. The place is immaculate and has views to die for.  Here is a sample:

After taking a few photos, we caught the bus to head back into town to sample some pinxtos.
First stop, Garbola.  Though it was listed as a higher priced place, we decided to go in and try a couple of their offerings.  We chose the tuna salad and shrimp pintxos with a couple of glasses of vino tinto (red house wine).  While we were eating, a group of guys were at the other end of the bar singing and having a good time.  As we were ready to leave for the next place, they asked us to stay for a few minutes and join them.

Here I am engaged in conversation 

They had asked us if we were here to go to the Gastronomik Show at Kursaal.  I told them we wanted to go but asked if it was for the public.  It wasn't as it was more of a restaurant trade show, so they offered us their tags since they were done for the day and heading back to Barcelona.  I was a little leery because they all were males and the names on the badges were as such.  They told me not to worry because no one was even checking.  So we graciously accepted and off we went to the trade show.

No problem getting in at all.  They just scanned our badges and off we went.  There were booths of wine, cheese, Iberico ham, cookware, and other notable restaurant accessories.

We walked around a bit, getting our bearings and then got comfortable enough to move in like we owned the place.  Having been to my share of trade shows, I told Terry to start grabbing the literature at the booths to look like we were interested.  That certainly got us by everyone.

Stopped at a booth that had some interesting samples of aperitifs, strawberry, chocolate, and plain liqueurs that were absolutely delicious.  Didn't realize that they would get the better of me later.
As we moved around from booth to booth, we came across one where they were serving wine and cutting a huge Iberico Ham and Chorizo.  A young girl greeted us and asked if we wanted to taste their samples.  Of course, we didn't decline so she showed us to our own little table and proceeded to get us each a glass of wine.  A plate of different hams were then put in front of us and we were just gloating.  The girl came back to our table to ask us if we are enjoying the samples, which we did and then asked us if we had a restaurant.  So quick thinking, I told her we had an Italian restaurant in the US and that we were looking for unique items  to put into our place.  Terry asked if they imported to the states and she said that they didn't.  We both were looking at each other, laughing inside at the situation at hand.  When we finished at this booth, we started walking around other floors.  At this point we were feeling braver to continue our little scheme. 

At another booth we saw, there were different types of cheeses for sampling and again some wine.  Terry asked for a couple of glasses and we were given them.  We were eating the cheeses, some stronger than others, and enjoying ourselves.  It was more crowded at this booth but we didn't know why. 

So on we went and then came across an area where a crowd of people were sitting around drinking.  I thought it was a stand to buy something to eat and drink, but was wrong.  It was another booth, featuring tequila, beer, and coffee.  What a combo!!  We tried the tequila, WAY too strong!.  I then had a small cup of coffee (which I needed at this time) and Terry had a Cruz Campo beer.  Here we were talking about our antics and getting a quite a laugh out of it.

We finished and continued on to another booth with different types of sauces from different international cuisine.  The guy in the booth was Dutch and spoke English pretty well.  He started giving us samples to taste.  I particularly enjoyed the Persian sauce, not too spicy but a with a little kick.  Terry liked the Indonesian one with a little more punch.  We both really liked the French Pesto.  We asked him if they imported to the states and out he came with a handful of literature about the products.  We proudly took them to show interest and thanked him for his time showing us the sauces.  At this point, we could hardly contain our laughter.  We went upstairs and were brought to another booth by the wonderful smell.  Here they were cooking chicken and handing out their samples.  The head guy at the booth came over asked us what we did.  By this time, I was feeling no pain and went on to say we were retired.  Immediately by the look on his face, I caught myself and said that even though we were retired, we had a restaurant that we had staff running for us.  He seemed to have accepted that answer and moved on to the next person.  I was laughing so hard about screwing up.

We ended our time at the trade show at a wine booth, featuring reds, whites, and champagne.  Had a taste of each and it was time for us to get back to our tapas crawl.  What an experience  it was!

After spending a few hours at the show, it was on to the next pintxos bar on the list, Hildago 56.  When we got there, no one was in the place.  I asked the women about the pintxos they were noted for and she told us that they wouldn't be out until 7PM.  It was only 6.  So we had a glass of wine and decided to go on to the next one, Senra Bar.

This bar was noted for it's baby squid with chestnuts and a mushroom foie with aoli.  But, the waiter steered us in another direction that he said was very good.  A blank ink risotto and a baked turbo pintxos.  I was so hungry that I only left Terry a small bite of the turbo.  And I don't even like fish!

The baked turbot

The black ink risotto

I really liked this place.  Terry started getting perturbed with me petting the dog that belonged to the waiter.  But, it got us each a free glass of wine.

Now I was really feeling no pain, because I don't even remember getting to Bergara, our next and last tapas/pintxos bar. They were noted for the mushroom prawns with fried onion and a grilled ratatouille.  They didn't have the ratatouille so Terry ordered scallops in a wine sauce  and I just ate it.  He said it wasn't as good as the other places we were at, only passable.

Mushroom prawns with cheese and onion

Baked scallops
Well by this point we had stayed out later than any other time on vacation.  Terry escorted me back to the apartment because my sense of direction was shot.  We got back and for some reason, I wanted to go back out, so off to the piano bar across the street.  What a waste of time and money that was.  Supposedly famous for their gin and tonic, it was awful and there's no piano at the bar.  The place only has about 6 tables and piped in music.  I was trying to do my usual speaking the language when I've had too much to drink and it didn't work.  Besides the two of  us, there was one other guy and the bartender in the place.  As I was trying to communicate with the other guy, Terry was laughing sitting at the table because he knew I wasn't making any sense.  I think I kept asking him why there was no piano in a piano bar.  The bartender was getting upset with me and took me by the arm back to the table.   I think we finished the horrible gin and tonics.  I remember Terry saying to the bartender how ridiculous the charge for them were.  We went home, me hardly being able to stand, and went right to bed.  Slept soundly through the night.  It was a great time!!

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