Tour guide @ San Sebastián Urban Adventures. Just another Basque hoping to explore the world. Passionate gamer, repressed prose writer, and language nerd.
In the Basque Country, we love autumn! Why? Well, for starters, autumn is harvesting time, it’s corn and sunflower season, the landscape is a beautiful scene at this time of year, and there’s the mouthwatering smell of roasted chestnuts! As well, this region is a place of an ancient civilisation, pagan beliefs and fantastic superstitions that come alive in autum (keep reading for a piece of Basque mythology at the end of this article).
While usually there are many events going on around the city, November is not a month of much activity — but don’t worry, us experts at San Sebastián Urban Adventures can still find things for you to do this month!
What would San Sebastián be without its hale citizens? The regular Basque is the one who exercises no matter the place or the weather. Basques don’t mind getting dirty and muddy if it means enjoying a jog in the mountains while leaves are falling. Plus, now is when some of the biggest races of the year arrive.
Many locals in San Sebastián are counting down to the next Behobia race, a competition in which more than 30,000 runners start in Behobia (a neighbourhood in the city of Irun) and end in San Sebastián-Donostia. Thousands of runners, local and international, meet by the French border with the goal of completing a total amount of 20 kilometres.
Cheering for the Behobia runners is a tradition, so join the watching crowd and lend your support! Or if you want to join the race, sign up on the race website.
Date: November 12
San Sebastián Marathon
But if there’s a more relevant race than Behobia, it would be the San Sebastián Marathon. The 42-kilometre circuit is completely urban, beginning at Avenida de Madrid and concluding in the Anoeta football stadium. Runners will have to confront three challenging laps and pace along La Concha, as well as past many other iconic locations in San Sebastián.
The marathon is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and locals in San Sebastián couldn’t be more proud. (We also intend on hosting it for at least another 40 years!) The race has been granted a certificate of quality by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
If you want to join the 2017 edition, register via the official website. Also, if you want to bring along the kiddies, children can run for free.
Date: November 26
Pintxos at Gastropote
Because the Basque Country is one of the rainiest regions in Spain, it is sometimes very difficult to find outdoor activities, especially in the winter when we’d much rather stay cosy at home under a blanket. But if there’s one thing to get us outside year-round, it’s the sublime food you can find.
It’s nearly impossible not to fall to temptation when you live in Donostia. Almost weekly, locals go out on various pintxo crawls — it’s part of our social life and we don’t look at the calories. However, we do try to stay active by going hiking, jogging or cycling because combining exercise and tasty food is what we do best.
A true Basque knows going out for a crawl is locally known as potear, or better said, as pintxopote. If you want to join locals in their crawl, you must have only one drink and one pintxo at every place, in order to try every bar’s specialty. This tradition has spread out quickly over the Basque Country and is frequently celebrated on Thursdays. Typically, during pintxopote, pintxos will be cheaper (sometimes even free) in many local bars.
We personally suggest going to San Martin Market on a Thursday evening after 7pm, when local shopkeepers turn their stores into actual bars for a few hours and serve various pintxos, all made with market products. This event, called Gastropote, is loved by locals.
For EUR 2.50, you’ll get not just some food but also some wine or beer. But if you want to combine your pintxo with something more delicate, like cava or champagne, you may have to pay more for your craving. From Spanish ham to noodles, sushi or dumplings, this is the most alternative place to go pintxo-tasting. Live music is included, too.
Date: Every Thursday, from 7pm to 10pm
A little autumn trivia…
Looking for a meaningful gift from the Basque Country? Did you know that sunflowers are symbolic to the Basque people? According to our pagan superstitions, before daylight was created, humans and supernatural creatures coexisted in the Basque land. Goddess Mari, or Mother Nature, created the day to protect humans from supernatural foes. However, humans remained unprotected at night.
Faithful to her promise to protect the humans, Mari created a flower that would represent the sun to shoo away evil intruders after dark: the sunflower. Sunflowers are believed to give you protection from witches, demons and evil spirits; even today, hanging sunflowers from doors is an ongoing tradition in the countryside of the Basque Country.
Because of this tale, sunflower jewellery is a popular accessory among Basque women — and could make a great gift from your time in San Sebastián!