It has been over a year now but the memories are as fresh as though I was there just yesterday! San Sebastián holds a very special place in my heart. Every time I talk about it I feel a tingling sensation on my back, for, that’s how I felt when we drove into the city for the first time that summer afternoon…
Race back to July 2015: The stars had aligned perfectly – five of my friends flew down from different corners of the world to spend a couple of weeks in Spain together. For those familiar with Indian cinema, yes, we went there with every intention of recreating ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara‘ moments for us! Driving through various cities across the country, we filled our bags with souvenirs, and our cameras with mushy to marvellous photographs. But, it wasn’t until we all arrived in San Sebastián that we truly felt our Spanish holiday come alive.
Every nook and corner of this gorgeous town is picturesque, to say the least. Be it sunrise (of which I saw very little!) or sunset, enveloped in those natural hues the town lit up so beautifully it left us speechless many a time. What made San Sebastián unique was the fact that it wasn’t just a beach town, or just a hill station, or just touristy, historic, full of narrow-alleyways-cobblestoned-streets kind of a town – it was ALL three rolled into one! I was overjoyed to see hills looming large on the beautiful beaches, that stretched out to the colourful city on the other side – it was truly captivating!
And of course, among the six of us, there were six million heart warming moments that we shared with one another. Great laughs, passionate debates, group hugs, overlapping chatter, random photographs, and then some more group hugs – you get the drift! These experiences and moments of togetherness – while soaking up the sun on sandy beaches, or while walking up to the funicular station, or cracking into giggles while looking for restaurants open around midnight – are hard to come by, especially in a world where Whatsapp groups and Facebook updates have become the norm to stay in touch with your world. And so, we pocketed as many of these brilliant moments as possible and held in our hearts a promise that we wouldn’t give in to the temptations of technological laziness, so easily.
Ah, before I get more sentimental about this, I must tell you the real reason why this town became so special for me.
Having never been a beach lover, I avoided going onto the sandy land the first few times. Then, I began to loosen up a little looking at everyone else’s enthusiasm. And, after toasting a margarita glass full of milk, I decided to go into the sea – slowly, but surely. It was a moment of personal discovery while standing neck deep in the sea, that I could actually be friends with the blue waters! I swam a little, played a lot more with these five mad people splashing water all around like kids, and had the best time in those cold but very welcoming, shiny waters, alongside some of my oldest friends. It was unadulterated joy, I tell you!
It taught me a simple fact of life: it is never too late to let go of your fears. As I lay afloat on my back for those few minutes, delicately supported by my friends, the blue sky stretched over me, sun rays glistened across my eyes, I felt a deep sense of calm come over me and in that moment, I fell in love with San Sebastián!
“If you push fear out, love will find its way in!” ~ wise words, not mine. My husband mumbled it one evening, and although I read more books on philosophy than he does, I give him credit for this one. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to join us on this leg of the trip. So, it is only befitting that I left behind a piece of my heart there, so we can take a trip together some time to leave a piece from his too!