What San Sebastián Taught Me About Life

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.

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Racing past the pretty Spanish countryside!

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.

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Clunky funicular, funky ride!

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!

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Golden sand, blue waters, green hills…

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!

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Put your feet up and relax!

Lisbon: A Bit Of My Own

Lonely Planet gives one of the best introductions to the city of Lisbon. I read the first few lines and was sold. I also stopped reading after those first few lines, because I wanted the rest to unfold, slowly, all on its own during our visit.

Pick any major city in the west to visit in December and you are bound to land amidst a grand celebratory atmosphere. It surely adds more colour to the vacation. Lisbon was simply wonderful too. The Christmas and New Year cheer was all around. The city centre was lit up beautifully in the evenings, the streets were decorated and so lively! There were artists – singers, story-tellers, painters – lining up the small alleyways who one could stand, watch and enjoy for hours.Continue reading “Lisbon: A Bit Of My Own”

Window Seat, Please!

It’s a sunny afternoon as we make our descend into Lisbon. I smile at the changing landscape below. We circle over where I assume the river Tagus joins the Atlantic ocean; the sun rays reflecting off the blue waters would make for some good photos but I continue to squint my eyes and watch from the corner of the window. We fly over a reddish suspension bridge that looks a lot familiar and I quickly turn to hubby, who is buried deep into this new book he bought at the airport, to ask him about it. By the time I manage to pull him towards the window, the bridge is far behind and we are flying over red rooftops, colourful houses and what looks like a bustling city spread up, down, and all around small hills. I forget about hubby leaning in to see the view, and unable to resist anymore, I begin to click a few photos excitedly.

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Love Thy Neighbour’s Food

My bowl of pasta looked very tempting! I could smell the garlic and basil from a distance, and couldn’t wait to dig in. Hubby’s creamy ravioli looked as sumptuous but I am more of a tomato sauce fan so, clearly I loved mine more! It tasted even better than its aroma and looks, trust me. By the time we licked the tiramisu off those lovely little dessert jars, we had concluded we ate the best Italian food in a long, long time.

It was perhaps the long walks we took during the day while touring this new city, that added to the flavours in tonight’s dinner, but even half hour later I was certain I had had the best Arrabbiata there! Pizza Pino was inching its way to becoming the delightful discovery of our visit.

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Beyond The Wall

We are breezing through the German farmlands, making our way back to the capital after an express trip to Braunschweig for a friend’s wedding. Lazy afternoon, a smooth train ride, sunshine sprawled all around, a weekend away couldn’t be more blissful. I stifle a yawn as I browse through the photos we took the previous evening, while hubby has a city map spread in front of him that he is staring at intently in an attempt to draw out a plan for the next day. I want to jump in and take part but the autumn colours outside and the hangover inside from last night’s party distract me well enough.

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I snuggle in my shawl, look out the window thinking of the wedding party. It was such a personal, intimate affair that it left my heart all warm and fuzzy by the end of it! The sawing of the wooden log definitely wasn’t the most delicate of wedding rituals, but then it is a German tradition and there wasn’t much left to wonder! The newly weds’ speeches, the montage and all the toasts, both in German & English were endearing and quite movie-like too. The highlight, of course, was dancing and me DJ-ing every now and then, oh, not in the truest sense of the word but if suggesting peppy Hindi numbers to alternate between the German ones counts, then sure I did a good job of it.

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