Catching the train to San Sebastian, Spain from Toulouse, France, it was striking how the landscape changed from more lush forests to a drier landscape reminiscent of Australia. As we starting walking around San Sebastian, we could feel refreshing coastal breezes. It was such a relief compared to the stifling heat of Toulouse.
San Sebastian is a city which survives on tourism, especially in the summer months. It was clear why when we visited. It has a big stretch of beautiful, sandy albeit crowded beach, elegant buildings and a buzzy summer holiday vibe. People were relaxed, wondering about in brightly coloured summery outfits and sandals. There was plenty of al fresco dining options for eating and drinking.
We did a tips only, free walking tour and learnt that San Sebastian has a whaling history (until they hunted them right out of the area!). Then these coastal people become corsairs which are basically “legal” pirates who raid ships on behalf of the crown and once they give a cut to the crown, the rest was theirs to legally enjoy. San Sebastian also grew when the queen of Spain started to holiday there and when she did, brought much of the court and aristocracy with her. This was how money started to pour into this place and the fancy, elegant buildings were put up.