Abbotts Travel showcase events are a chance to introduce our clients to beautiful destinations and experiences all around the world. So when Richard and Vivienne took home a voucher for a culinary tour of San Sebastian, we couldn’t wait to book them a trip to taste the delights of Spain’s mountainous Basque Country.
“The trip came about as a result of us winning an eating experience - a prize which had been given by Elias of Eat Northern Spain for an Abbotts Travel event at Chigwell Golf Club last November.
The voucher was for two for a Pintxo Tasting Tour in San Sebastián, with up to six pintxo bars, all food and wine included, hosted by a local culinary guide. It turned out to be a bit of a bar crawl with great food.
We decided to incorporate the tour into a three-day short break in San Sebastián - an area we had never visited before.
My wife and I flew into Biarritz airport with Ryanair, before taking a 40 minute transfer to San Sebastián.
Julie made all the bookings, which worked seamlessly. This included a private taxi transfer in a luxury car with Holiday Taxis, who provided an excellent service.
Villa Soro was our accommodation of choice as we prefer small, boutique places to larger hotels. The hotel has 25 rooms and was about a 15 minute walk to the main town, which would not be ideal for everyone.
It is an old house which has been beautifully restored with a modern extension at the rear. We were in the main house in a lovely large room. We had an excellent breakfast served by very friendly, helpful staff. It turned out to be an excellent choice and we can thoroughly recommend it.
Probably the highlight of our short stay was the Pintxo Tasting Tour itself.
Elias arranged our tour through Mimo, who are totally separate to Eat Northern Spain. Mimo is a cookery school who also organise food tours and events. They are based in San Sebastián as well as the Algarve, Seville and Mallorca. In fact they have just opened one in London’s Borough Market.
Pintxo or pincho is similar to tapas and was served alongside a glass of wine at each of the bars we visited - six in total.
The bars were all close to each other, with small interiors and limited seating. We often stood at counters, or in warmer weather outside (but sadly not on our visit). All served similar “small plate” options.
Eli, our guide, chose our pintxos, having established our eating preferences. We started with two fish, then three meat and finished with pudding and bubbles. Each of the pintxos were accompanied by a different wine and one also included cider - a specialty of the region. Our favourite was Ganbara (San Jeronimo Street) where we had spider crab and marinated anchovies with Rose wine from Navarra.
We can certainly recommend Mimo San Sebastian and our guide Eli who was very knowledgeable and contributed to what was a memorable evening.
Apart from the tasting evening we enjoyed two very good meals at restaurants about a 5 minute walk from our hotel: Saltxipi and Zelai Txiki.
San Sebastián is an attractive town with two lovely beaches, one of which is very popular with surfers, and has a wide promenade which makes for easy walking. Wandering around both the old and new parts of the town is very comfortable with many pedestrianised areas.
We enjoyed a trip on the funicular railway at the far end of town, which dates from 1912 and takes you to the top of Monte Igeldo. This offers incredible views across the city. The town is also renowned for its numerous small parks of tamarisk trees.
Three very full days was about right for us to feel that we had “done San Sebastián”.
We can thoroughly recommend a short stay, with its fascinating old quarter and excellent cuisine, you’ll have lots to enjoy. Abbotts Travel arrangements, or more particularly Julie, couldn't be faulted.”
Richard and Vivienne Danzey
For more information on culinary tours offered by our friends at Eat Northern Spain, or if you’re hoping to attend one of our upcoming showcase events, please do get in touch.