Oh how lovely the city of San Sebastian is...
But before I get into my impressions of this enchanted city, here's a run down of today's interesting events; I woke up at 5am to take the Metro to Barcelona's train station feeling nervous as I packed and readied to leave by 6am, that it wouldn't be light out as I made my way through Las Ramblas in the dark. So I dressed in my sweats and covered myself beneath my hood, surprised to see so many people outside. There were women who didn't look the least bit pleasant leaning against the walls and in the shadows - prostitutes, I gathered. According to Rick Steves guidebook, Las Ramblas is well known for such activities. Men leered at me, trying to see my face beneath my hood and I scurried to the Metro as quickly as I could without showing any outward appearance that I was terrified. I gripped my Mace as I saw a man come towards me looking intently and just a little predatory and I felt my body tense - not realizing I'd held my breath until he passed me.
I sighed in relief when I had finally sat down on the Metro. Feeling fatigued due to not having slept enough hours. I'm sure my current state contributed to the irrational paranoia I'd felt walking through the streets in the dark.
It was going to be a long train ride to San Sebastian so I was happy to get bits of sleep here and there, letting the soft justling lull me to sleep. It was a stunning ride through Spain's Basque countryside and by 1pm we arrived. Already, the atmosphere felt lighter than it had in Barcelona and I felt my sense of ease increase as I walked along the cobblestone pathway, heading towards my hostel (see below for a quick video of the view outside my dorm room). I grabbed a quick bite to eat and an old man stopped to chat with me. You'd be proud to know that my Spanish has been doing much better and so I responded, "Lo siento senor, comprende un poquito."
He says, "No speak Espana?"
He talks anyway in a rush of Spanish and I struggle to follow along. He'd pause and I'd apologize once more, "No comprende." I smile as he begins to make hand motions indicating to his ring finger, "Amigo en San Sebastian?" I laugh and shake my head, "No, pero amigo en mi casa." (Basically I thought, No, but I have a one at home) Don't laugh, it was all I could come up with. He laughs and talks some more and I respond again with a grimace and an apology and he says what I think is "good day" ending with something, something "bonita". This forces a wide grin from me and I waved him goodbye.
There are lots of very interesting travellers staying here in the hostel. As I climbed up the stairs (of course there were stairs) of what appeared to be a leaning stairwell, I come to find the lobby without a receptionist. I wait for around 30 minutes chatting with a few of the lodgers - who poked fun at me when I first walked up the stairs to the lobby with my luggage on my back, saying "Wow, that thing looks like it weighs more than you. In fact, if you crouch, I bet you could fit in there." The man laughs and I keep my clenched fist in my pocket before it decided to introduce itself to his nose. I felt like I was back in elementary - not a pleasant feeling I tell you since I was mercilessly tormented by my small stature. He didn't seem to get the hint as he looked at me and then my luggage - assessing the dimensions or something idiotic, with an expression that looked like he might ask that I humor him and see if perhaps I could shove myself into my luggage. I thought, buster I've been on a train for almost 6 hours - I'm pretty patient, but don't push it. For his safety, I decided to put both my hands in my pockets.
After finally getting checked in, I realize that they've placed me in a mixed dorm room. I shuddered to think that I'd be roomed with the gentleman who'd irritated the hell out of me earlier and decided, this would definitely not do. I asked if any all female rooms were available and was lucky that it just so happened that a woman had cancelled her reservation! Hmmm...too soon to hope perhaps that my luck has turned around? I did find a McDonald's earlier...so I'm pleased to think that it just might be good luck coming my way after all!
It sure seems that way, as I've met some really amazing folks. The hostel setting and environment is much more conducive to meeting the other lodgers. It's loud, boisterous and friendly and soon you start looking past the uncomfortable beds or the fact that none of the floors seem to be leveled, making you just a bit wary that the building may not be stable. There are many interesting and solo travelling women as well! It's been so much fun and so refreshing sharing stories and learning plenty of budget friendly tips. I'm definitely going to enjoy my 3 nights in this lovely town. Will keep you posted! Thanks for reading! =)