Wednesday Wander – San Sebastian Beaches

It’s Wednesday and time for my weekly wander. This week we’re heading to Donostia San Sebastian, in the Basque country region of Spain. Donostia is the Basque name for the city, and is another way of saying San Sebastian – in honour of the dual heritage of the city, both names are used.

I visited earlier this year and fell under its spell straight away. The gorgeous old buildings and curving golden beaches were like a scene from a story – it was hard to believe people were lucky enough to live in such a place.

This is the iconic La Concha beach, the best known of the city’s beaches, voted the second best city beach in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine. A well- deserved award, I think. As you can see, it’s pretty popular – the clear green waves and golden sand make it a wonderful spot to lounge and take photographs during the day.

At night the beach changes, the deckchairs folded away, the entrance to the bay a perfect frame for glorious sunsets.

I sat for a half hour or so on the cool sand, watching the light change across the water, gold to red to violet, hardly able to take in such beauty.  Dark silhouettes danced at the water’s edge, the illuminated statue of Jesus on Monte Urgull seeming to watch over it all.

Day and night, the ornate promenade was full of people, families and couples and young people, all walking, laughing, enjoying the view. There are several small restaurants built into the seawall itself – one of them made excellent pizza, and was a fantastic place to watch the waves and people passing by.

Another city beach in San Sebastian is Zurriola, which is on the other side of Monte Urgull. This beach is wilder, the waves popular with surfers, although it is safe for swimming in parts, the Spanish lifeguards using a flag system similar to that we were used to in Australia. We visited La Zurriola most days – it was less crowded, yet easy to get to with ample parking nearby. I actually got dumped by a wave the first day there, scraping my knee – haven’t done that in years! Oh, and apparently, Zurriola is also somewhere you can hang ten in the buff, should you choose to – one of several beaches in Europe which allow nude surfing! Just remember to apply plenty of sunscreen 😉

When I began writing this Wander, I’d thought I would write a single post about San Sebastian. But, when I began writing about the beaches, they seemed to merit a post of their own. It seems certain that I’ll be wandering back to San Sebastian, both on this blog and (I hope) in real life too.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me! See you next time 🙂


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander – Surfers Paradise, Australia

IMG_0237

It’s the destination. The place that all the tourists know, heading north from the cool chic of Sydney to a place where gleaming towers line a golden beach, blue waves rolling in. In this shot, taken a little bit further along the coast, Surfers Paradise shimmers like some mythical Oz on the horizon, a place of light and dream.

The first time I went to Surfers was for a friend’s wedding (and that’s a whole other blog post in itself). We (hubby and I) rented an apartment on the 35th floor of what was, at the time, one of the tallest buildings there. The apartment was straight out of The Golden Girls, with rattan furniture and palm leaf prints, shell sculptures hanging on the walls. There was also a huge terrace with views on three sides, and a dizzying drop to the beach below.

Surfers Paradise

When I was younger, my great-aunt used to live in Florida, and we went to visit her several times in her condo near St Petersburg. Surfers Paradise felt so similar in every way that I had to stop myself several times and remind myself that I was not, in fact, in Florida. But the streets, the architecture, the palms and blue water, were just the same. And yet… Australia has a flavour all its own – if you’ve been there, you’ll know what I mean.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!

Wednesday Wander – London Bridge, Portsea

London Bridge

No, it’s not the London Bridge you might be thinking of. This is a rock formation called London Bridge, at Portsea back beach just outside Melbourne, Australia. There used to be another arch of rock stretching into the ocean, hence the name, but it collapsed quite suddenly, leaving only two remaining.

IMG_0874

It’s a wonderful place to look for sea glass and shells, or mermaid jewels, as we used to call them. The vast rock pool next to it is calm and warm, perfect for days when the surf is too rough or the swimmers too small. The surf pounds hard on the southern Australian coast, the water much colder than you would think, and it shapes the rocks into towers and caverns and sculptures, magical to explore.

IMG_0113

For quite a few years this was my back yard, the beach just a short walk from home, cool sea mists wreathing the ti-tree and moonah. I miss the sound of waves at night, the smell of salt in the air. And so this week I chose to wander back there again – thanks for coming along with me.