Showing posts with label San Sebastain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Sebastain. Show all posts

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tourist Office to the Rescue!

Tourist Office to the Rescue
And efficient cheap transport in France.
More pics here

Theatre in San Sebastian
Fish display in San Sebastian

The Eusko Tren is well signed in San Sebastian

Kursaal centre in in San Sebastian

On the one day, we let someone else do the driving, the someone else didn’t turn up!

We had booked a private bus trip from Hendaye to San Sebastian, via the local tourist office, only for the bus driver to “forget” he had passengers in Hendaye and was down in the Spanish town before we and the Tourist Office, across the road from the stop, found out what was going on.

Quite a cock-up. But the Tourist Office came to the rescue in a big way and that was how we found out so much about the efficiency of and reasonable fares on the French public transport system.

Firstly, we were told to grab a local bus and get to the rail station. The local buses cost nothing while the narrow-gauge rail trip to San Sebastian cost just €2.80 per person return. We enjoyed our trip to the beautiful Spanish city and returned to the Hendaye tourist office the next day to sort out refunds and so on.

By then, the bus company had come in and offered a full refund and a trip on any other of their excursions. We had been looking at the one to Bilbao (including the Guggenheim) and that was what we choose.

The only problem about it was that we’d have to travel about 13 kilometres up the coast to the bus office who apparently wanted to deal with it personally. As it turned, we were at a loose end that afternoon and took the bus as the man in the Tourist Office suggested. Might as well take a stroll around the lively St Jean as one around Hendaye. The bus, believe it or not, cost a euro!
Beach of St Jean

Cool sup as temps hit 30s on Thurs 14th June
It took us right to the bus company’s office where we met Sandrine who knew all about us, even if she had no English. But we got on well. She refunded us our 34 euro straight away and then produced the tickets for Bilbao and apologised.

We were glad to accept. We all make mistakes but it is how you deal with it them that counts and I think both the Tourist Office (where each and every member of staff that we met was helpful) and the bus company dealt with us well and now we are looking forward to Bilbao next Wednesday.

The major memory for us from this faux pas by the bus driver is the efficiency and low cost of public transport in France. That Eusko Tren (Basque Train) to San Sebastian was punctual, state of the art with regard to messages flashed across as electronic banners (the station you were at, the side to get off, the time, the temperature, the next station) and was spotless. And the €2.80 for the 45 minute return trip was incredible.

Incredible too was that one euro cost for the 25 minute trip from Hendaye to St Jean and we had a very helpful driver aboard as well. Next time, I get tired of driving, I’ll be quite happy to take the public transport, maybe the private one too (after Wednesday next!)

San Sebastian. One of the beautiful cities.

Top: Outdoor Pieta at St Vincent's. Below: Indoor head at St Vincent's, Cork not only city with a cow, and mariner Antonio de Oquendo
On Friday, we headed for San Sebastian, going by narrow gauge EuskaTren (Basque train) from Hendaye. We reached the Amara station and then strolled up Easo Street. We knew what to expect, had been there before.

But still the gorgeous view at the end of the street, the elegant curve surrounding La Concha beach, the old buildings nearby, the hill of Monto Urgull, the blue skies, the golden sands, took our breath away. Here we were in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Coastal sculpture (by Chillida) and schoolkids
Then we headed, past the City Hall, into the compact old city,making for the market (Bretxa). Amazingly, McDonald's have been given a front entrance here. The real market though is down below. Amazing food stalls.  Then we found Constitution Square full of delivery vans! The square was once used as a bull ring and the numbers on the apartments were once used for booking your seat.
Beaches and churches
Made our way then to the church of Santa Maria (left, above), passed by the Naval Museum and Aquarium and headed for the Paseo Nouevo, the road that runs around Monte Urgull. It is also a beautiful coastal walk, so we did it, admiring the Chillida sculpture as we started off. Not too long afterwards, we found  ourselves entering the other side of the old city with the huge Kraal conference centre across the river Urumea, spanned by a variety of bridges, some very ornate indeed. Then we called to the church of San Vincenze, the city's oldest, and also saw the museum of San Telmo.

Stayed close to the river, walking past some more spectacular older buildings, such as the Victoria Eugene Theatre before cutting in to see the church of Buen Pastor.

We did make a one or two food and drink stops, coffee and a slice of tart for about €2.70, and also some shopping before all the walking in the heat (31/2 degrees) began to take its toll and so we headed back down Easo Street and the train back to Hendaye.
City Hall

The sheltered bay: Mount Urgull on right.
More pics here