Now that you all have a better understanding of what San Sebastian is all about, I assume it makes great sense as to why I am returning, to start my European journey #2. As soon as I received the news that I was offered a stage position at Noma, I knew I would have to use my finesse to first spend some quality time in San Sebastian. It would be the absolute perfect way to get my body ready for the grueling hours I will soon experience in the number one restaurant in the world. The following post was written after being in San Sebastian for a few days... I was sitting on the second airplane ride of the day, on my way now to Bilbao. It was a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from laughter to tears. I found myself going in and out of happiness and sadness, but as soon as I arrived in the beautiful city of San Sebastian, I was confident my negative feelings would disperse. One would think after studying abroad for a semester, homesickness would not be an issue later on in life. With how incredible of a family I have, there is nothing in this world that would prevent me from missing home and my wonderful parents. I am grateful to be in a position to experience homesickness. I can not imagine what it would be like if i did not have people who love me as much as my family does. Both the letters from you guys brought upon heavy tears on the plane.
The ride to the airport was fast, roughly twenty minutes after leaving the house I was walking into ohare, ready to face the next step. A beautiful woman took care of my luggage, which is probably why she let the extra weight fly, since my charm and good looks were of course still in tact, regardless of the anxiety inside.
After touching the outside of the plane and stepping onto the plane with my right foot first for luck, I had the displeasure of walking though the first class, then business class, then upgraded coach, and then my section. The small dinkie seats people sit in when flying somewhere for a couple hours. Today, it was an 8 hour journey. I squeezed into my seat, organized my belongings, and started thinking if I should drug myself and pass out or if I should stay up and see who is going to be sharing he cubby hole with me. Next thing I know, a large man, with very thick legs pops down next to me. German fellow. Did I mention he had very thick legs? The fat on his legs was oozing its way into every nook and crany, making sure not to leave any spare room for my small body to enjoy. I unfortunately had to lean against the window the entire time or else we would be playing footsie with our arms, if there is a such thing. To make matters even worse, he had awful breath, but I offered him a mint which he thankfully accepted.
My food options were either chicken with red wine sauce, or pasta alfredo. I was skeptical to go for chicken on a plane so I decided to tackle the pasta. It is not even worth describing what that was like. Nothing to write home about, that is for sure. After my first bite I was finished. The taste reminded me of the sour bitter aftertaste present after a heavy vomit session. Luckily, Lufthansa Airlines gives free alcoholic drinks, whenever you want. I took full advantage of this to tackle the nerves inside my mind.
After landing in Bilbao, I was eager to get onto that bus and get to San Sebastian. I checked the schedule when I got to the airport, and the next bus was leaving in four minutes, and I had just gotten to the baggage claim. There was no way I was going to make it. With Plotkin luck on my side, my bag came out first, and I was off running to the bus. I made it with about twenty seconds to spare. An hour later I had arrived at what I consider my third home. Second being Maine of course.
I arrived at the apartment where I would spend only one night. I was greeted at the door by a beautiful woman, which immediately made my knees buckle. Unfortunately, her boyfriend was only a few seconds behind her, killing any excitement that was going through my mind.
The bedroom I had was perfect. Picture perfect view on the balcony of Buen Pastor, the city's famous large church. The apartment was literally right next door. Could not have been any closer. I was going to attempt to see if a loogey could reach the front step but I decided that would probably be a bad idea.
After settling in, I went for a long walk all over the city. It was amazing how much I have forgotten in terms of how to get around. I thought I would not have any problems at all but that was quickly erased as soon as I realized I was walking in the wrong direction for a solid ten minutes. My first stop of course was Monpas. Bocadillo #6 (my favorite sandwich, which I add hard boiled egg too), and the amazing part is I didn't even have to order it. As soon as I walked in, I was asked if that is what I would like. They remembered me! I guess I made a strong impression on them during the time I was studying here. It was great to see cartoons drawn by my father, still sitting in the case on the wall, never been touched since the day they were placed there.
After returning to the apartment, I took a couple hour nap, unexpectedly. I woke up around ten o'clock, and went into the main room to see if the people who own the place were around. They were indeed, so I shared a bottle of wine with them, exchanged some stories in spanish, listened to the Dead, and worked on building what will probably be a long term friendship. They were wonderful people, even though I was always thinking how I could possibly get rid of this boyfriend, giving me a chance with the spanish mermaid. Didn't happen. Oh well.
I woke up the next morning around 12 which I was surprised about. I had yet had a coffee since being in Europe, so that was the very first thing I did. It was just as delicious as I remember. I think it was the first time drinking hot coffee since being here. If you ask for an iced coffee they will pretend you don't exist and walk in the other direction.
I had made arrangements to meet the owner of the apartment that I would be staying at for the next three or four nights around 130. I knew it was going to be close to my old apartment but I was not exactly sure how close. I was elated to see that it was one block away! That means one block from MONPAS. After settling in and checking the place out, I went straight to Monpas for another Bocadillo #6. This one was even better than yesterday's. Perfectly grilled chicken, crusty bread, tomatoes, lettuce, garlic aioli, hard boiled eggs, mmmmm. I then went for another long walk around the city, which brought me to my ass on the beach at the end, tired from all the miles. I cannot express how amazing it is to be surrounded by old saggy boobies again on the beach. And the old men in speedos, mmmmmmm. Everyone has nipples the circumference of a kosher salami, very strange. Must be a spanish thing. Not to mention it is normal in San Sebastian for a mother to be topless on the beach, with their child's mouth attached to their nipple like a leach, sucking away for some hearty nutritious white breast nectar. Very strange sight that I will never get used to.
After laying down for a little in bed, I decided it was dinner time. This is where I wish I was with someone since eating alone when feeling a little homesick is not the best time. I ended up choosing a spot in the old part of town, which is where I am sitting now writing this. Nicoise salad was the choice, as well as a few beers. I am not sure what I am going to be doing the rest of the night but I will see.
I was expecting to feel better today, in terms of not having these anxiety/homesick feelings, but hopefully they will be gone tomorrow. The guy who owns the apartment I am in now is a surf instructor so I am thinking about taking a surfing lesson tomorrow.
I am also planning on going on my favorite gorgeous hike, on the mountain directly behind my old apartment, which I took my parents and sister on when they came to visit me two years ago. The hike is not too difficult, unless you have a fear of heights, since there is a generous portion where you are walking on a very narrow path, with a very healthy drop on both sides, that would instantly kill a person. This is probably why my Mom was crying in fear most of the way. I am first going to stop by my University here and say hello to some teachers, as well as pop into some restaurants and try and set up some stages. I am also going to go to Arzak and see what strings I can pull there. I made a point to send my resume and a long letter to all of the prestigious restaurants in town before leaving Chicago, hoping one will let me come work for a day and night, learning from some of the best chefs in the world. Hopefully luck will continue to be on my side, but we shall see.
ALL OF THE PHOTOS ABOVE WERE TAKEN WHILE ON MY FAVORITE HIKE, ON THE MOUNTAIN JUST BEHIND MY OLD APARTMENT. BREATHTAKING VIEWS!