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Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra, San Sebastian, Spain

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars. During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Like in many other coastal towns, the origin of San Sebastian is related with fishing activities and the “La Concha” bay acting as a natural safe haven for traditional local fishing boats ultimately explains the success and prosperity of the town.

However, when we look around we mostly see buildings dated after the 1800’s and one can wonder why.

The reason, although not obvious, is not rare on this part of the world. After a siege that took place in 1813, where the combined Portuguese and English troops successfully fought against the Napoleon army, the city was almost completely destroyed by the winners.

As you can imagine, San Sebastian had to be rebuilt after that sad event.

It also happen that the Queen Maria Cristina had to spend some time in the city recommended by her doctor due to her health condition.

The queen enjoyed so much the town that started to spend more time around here and that alone attracted other aristocratic members and European wealthy people in general.

Was in this context that the building that today we know as the “Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra” was constructed in the middle of the XIX century.

Initially was a private own palace and at a certain moment became an hospital, during one of the Carlists wars.

During the beginning of the XX century was adapted to become an hotel.

Today we can find a hotel with an elegant classic decoration although very modern in all the ways you can think about.

The Hotel had many distinct guests until now. Anyway, in its long list there is one that, in my opinion, stands out and completely fits the hotel’s environment, I’m referring to the famous and mysterious spy Mata Hari.

The hotel rooms are very elegant and classy, the restaurant has an excellent service with very nice quality/price relation in what concerns dinner and lunches. Breakfast here is a treat, the proper way to start your day.

The best of the hotel is the their staff, no doubt about it.

In these years I’ve been staying here with guests, as you can imagine, many situations occurred that I needed their help … in fact at the end is always the guest that has the need and the hotel staff always faced the problems with a tender smile and a eager to help.

If you stayed in this hotel please let me know your opinion. My opinion is clear, is an excellent hotel.

David Monteiro

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country – Spain

Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country - Spain

Torrija is the Spanish name for French toast. So far so good nothing new.

Like any other dish you often may find the regular and occasionally you will find the superb and that is what this post is all about.

One of the hotels I often visit while guiding tours is the Iriarte Jauregia – – and here you can find the restaurant Bailara where Enrique Fleischmann is the Chef. About the hotel, I promised to write in another post its magnificent history.

Many of you will think: What is there so special about a French toast?

Well …

Instead of regular bread, they use an award-winning brioche bread soaked in a custard cream and grilled, not fried.

The amber and yellow pearls are all done manually one-by-one. The yellow has a base of egg yolk dropped into a warm syrup so they will cook gently and the amber pearls have a base of syrup dropped into a cold cooking oil to crystallize without getting stuck with each other … just perfect.

The result is a French toast with a perfect structure, tasty, not too sweet, not fat, crunchy and while you are chewing you may have a very mild caramel flavor from the amber pearls …. ooooohhh the heaven exists 🙂

Enjoy it … I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bailara Restaurant, Bidania, Basque Country, Spain

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Walking from Fuenterrabia to San Sebastian – Spain

Walking from Fuenterrabia/Hondarribia to San Sebastian/Donostia, Basque Country, Spain.

I loooove to walk … that is obvious … however is not an absolute truth because there are walks I love more than others and some walk I hope not have to do them.

Each walk has its charm but for a walk to enter into my favorites gallery the walk has to have something special like a story, History, superb views, extraordinary places or, something less objective, has to have that je ne sais quoi that will make it special.

The Spanish Basque Country is widely known by its gastronomy and there there is also a quite long and beautiful coastal line.

When I first started to analyze the trail from Hondarribia (Fuenterrabia in Spanish) to Donostia (San Sebastian in Spanish) I didn’t know what to expect so I was open to whatever I could find.

Hondarribia is a Spanish Basque village at the border with Hendaye a French Basque village and, in between these two Basque villages, you can find the river Bidasoa. Is a village full of life where you will find a lot of bars with amazing pintxos.

There’s a trail here that will take you directly do Donostia, always along the Cantabric coast and that was the trail I first thought about doing. Has 30 Km with 1400 m of elevation gain, challenging but not too difficult.

In the meantime, I realized that not too far from the trail there was quite a good number of elements that are quite interesting to visit while doing the walk and that could increase the charm of the walk, decrease the length, reduce the elevation gain a little bit and increase the charm … looks like a good deal.

The trail ended up having 27 Km with 1100 m of elevation gain. Is still a challenging walk but with added value. Not too bad, I knew that some of my clients would love to do it.

Now I know that I can either do the trail in one shoot or split it in two wonderful walking days.

During the trail you can visit/see:

And, before crossing Donibane de Pasaia you can have lunch in a wonderful terrace by the river Oiartzun mouth looking to the sea.

Arriving to Donostia will be time to have a deserved bath and a nice meal. One thing that you will find in abundance in Donostia is restaurants where you have a superb dinner.

I already did this walk with clients and they loved everything. For sure I will repeat it.

Enjoy yourself.

David Monteiro

Location: San Sebastian, Spain