The Travel Year

Skip Navigation LinksTheTravelYear > Travelogue > Spain

Stories from Spain

San Sebastian, Spain

Party Party, Political Party

timSpaniards love to party.

Three days in San Sebastian and all Ive done is sleep in and stay out late eating tapas and drinking beer. What a life.

It is Sunday, but the only Sunday suits that I see are the blue and white stripped shirts of San Sebastian's soccer team. Today's match between San Sebastian and Bilbao marked the start of the season, and as you can imagine, people started the party early. The streets below my pension were echoing with the sound of revelers by the time I woke up and by 2 PM, the street had grown into a miniature Mardi Gras - with loud music, random fireworks, bawdy singing, and trash covered pavement.

But this is Basque country, home of a strong separatist movement. Today on my narrow street alone, Basque separatists hung banners and a vendor sold separatist t-shirts from a nearby stall.

The people rally behind their Basque team as an icon of independence. So soccer is more than just a game. It is a chance to make a political statement.

Forty-five minutes before game time, the large drunk party organized into a political march and walked from the old section of San Sebastian to the stadium en masse. They chanted slogans, threw fireworks, and flew the red, green, and white colors of their nationalist flag.

I followed the parade along with my friends and got caught up in the moment. With so much energy and excitement, it seemed just clean fun. But the movement's violent side is responsible for many deaths, including two people here in San Sebastian just a few days ago. So maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to do. But what could be safer than hanging out with the terrorists themselves - at least I knew I was safe from bombs in their company. top

The soccer season starts in the Basque city of San Sebastian with a party several hours before the opening game. But the game represents more than sport, as a Basque separatist banner hangs over the street. San Sebastian is playing the nearby Basque city of Bilbao, so the fans of both teams drink together. Red church candles offer prayers in a San Sebastian Catholic church. Why sit down to eat when you can pick and choose your food at the bar? The range of tapas at most San Sebastian bars overwhelms you with choices. Just remember the honor system applies when you tell the bartender how much you ate!

Barcelona, Spain

Photos

timPhoto check-in. top

Modernist chimneys on the rooftop of the Pedrera, an apartment building designed by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi's influence in Barcelona's modernist movement reached its highpoint in the unfinished, yet still magnificent, La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Modernist chimneys on the rooftop of the Pedrera, an apartment building designed by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi's influence in Barcelona's modernist architecture movement reached its highpoint in the unfinished, yet still magnificent, La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The tree-lined pedestrian area of Barcelona's La Rambla attracts tourists, locals, and street performers such as this human statue. This black bandit stands still until offered a coin, then he turns into a fountain, pouring mysterious liquid into an oil pan below his feet. The tree-lined pedestrian area of Barcelona's La Rambla attracts tourists, locals, and street performers such as this human statue. This brown soldier stands still until offered a coin, then he gives an inspiring John Wayne salute and a wink. The tree-lined pedestrian area of Barcelona's La Rambla attracts tourists, locals, and street performers such as these human statues. This gold couple stands still until offered a coin, then they move slowly into position for photographs with the kids. The tree-lined pedestrian area of Barcelona's La Rambla attracts tourists, locals, and street performers such as this colorful clown who plays a pan flute with a bird on head to the accompaniment of his howling dressed up mutt. Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Stadium (Estadi Olímpic) has a permanent capacity of 55,000 and can fit up to 77,000 with temporary seating. Barcelona's 1992 Olympic Stadium (Estadi Olímpic) has a permanent capacity of 55,000 and can fit up to 77,000 with temporary seating.