Tag Archives: Europe

Highlights of San Sebastián, Spain (from Sj’s perspective)

Highlights of San Sebastián, Spain

as experienced through the eyes, ears, feet, stomach, and heart of Sj.

If you’re looking for a WHAT to DO, WHAT to EAT, WHERE to STAY type of post regarding San Sebastián, you’re in the wrong place.

Nice meeting you, and I wish you well as you search for all that data.

If you want to know how it FELT to be in San Sebastián, you’re in the right place.

Overall, it felt good; though at times it was quite cold for this Kaua‘i gal. And on two particular days, it was quite hot (37 Celsius or 98.6 Fahrenheit). It was amazing how the temperature could change by about 20 degrees Fahrenheit from one day to the next. Fortunately, I had my Mom’s silk long underwear; so I was ready for anything.

The following is a list of my personal fav experiences and/or thoughts.

  1. Of all the places I’ve visited during my life (and that’s been plenty), I have never before encountered a collection of people who were as consistently kind and helpful.

Yes, for real.

From the grocery clerk who was helping an elderly woman make sure some product didn’t have something in it that would harm a family member who had some particular food allergy to the tour boat captain who must have seen at least 5,000,000 visitors come on his boat and ask the same questions (over and over and over again).

I can’t promise you that that’s what you’ll experience, but for me, I did. Time and time again, I met kind people who looked me in the eye and really listened.

  1. Tricia Evy.     

She’s not from San Sebastián; she’s French and lives in Paris, but her performance in a quartet during their annual jazz festival was one of my aural highlights. Her talent, exuberance, joy in doing exactly what she was doing at the particular moment (singing!) was an incredible gift to all of us lucky folk who were there that Saturday evening in late July.

  1. Jesus on the hill

I just enjoyed looking at Jesus up on the hill. And I had the good fortune of residing in an apartment which faced the ocean (and Jesus on the hill across the way) during my four week stay.

  1. El aula azul

This is the language school that I happened to pick. There are many. Each person who worked there that I had the opportunity to get to know (either as a teacher or as a guide on one of the many excursions they host) was kind, professional, knowledgeable, and just cool. Yup, you guys rock, Silvia, Ester, Gorka, Idoia, Concha, Nora, Sara, and Salva!

  1. The combination of mountains and sea.

Face it. I call Kaua‘i home and to find a place in the world where I could go for a hike and swim on the same day while learning Spanish . . . it just doesn’t get any better than that.

  1. The town itself. It’s not too big; it’s not too small, but it’s . . . just right!

I liked how San Sebastián is laid out, how you can’t get too lost because you just need to figure out where the ocean or a particular hill is and then which bridge you’re seeing . . . and voila! I’d realize where I was.

  1. Peaches (melocotones)

Okay, it was summer. And the peaches were dripping with yummy goodness. I love fresh, ripe peaches!

  1. Watermelon (sandía)

So refreshing. Delicious. I love watermelon!

  1. The Vino rosado or Rosé wine

For less than a bottle of water (which wasn’t necessary in San Sebastián, per my host, their water comes from the Pyrénées mountains and is very clean), you can buy a glass of vino rosado. I didn’t have it everyday, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. It’s not super sweet like we have the U.S., and the color is really beautiful.

And now for a random collection of photographs . . .


✫ Sj ✫

p.s. You’ll notice that Pintxos (Basque word for tapas) are not on my list. Most people go on and on about them. The locals love them. They were alright, but being a gal who really prefers vegetables over meat, they were just okay to me.

Hawaii in San Sebastian

Take a minute and listen

Just one minute

to watch what I taped today on the way home from school.

Want more now and then?

Pedrata with skull

The mind *$%*k has begun.

Yes indeedy, for real. The mind *$%k has begun.

I’ve landed in San Sebastian, and it’s extraordinary.

The city.

The people.

The climate.

BUT . . . my mind hasn’t quite caught up yet.

Simple little words in Spanish that I’ve known for years are having fun playing hide-and-seek. As of now, they’re not out in the open.

My job?

To get a really strong flashlight, heavy duty broom, and start sweeping the heck out of my mind.

Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy the process. : )

There ain’t no way around it . . . sending a hug to all of you.

✫ Sj ✫

Sj Daisy and Pedrata que

My cuz, Sj Daisy, is here too from time to time . . .

You can check out her and Pedrata at her blog or on YouTube. Be sure and click on the CC button for closed captioning.

Monday, December 19th, we celebrated Susan's Mom's 80th Birthday by going to Krefeld, their ancestoral town.

The Mother Chronicles 3 of 3

To Krefeld we go, the Stadtarchivs we go . . . hi-ho the dairy oh, to Krefeld we go!

Then it was time to get serious!

With our armor on (in the form of head gear), we set forth to Krefeld . . .


After our strenuous search in the Krefeld archives . . .

ends up our ancestors left the year BEFORE the archives were started! LOL What the heck, we had fun poking around anyway!

. . . we buckled down to celebrate my Mom’s 80th birthday!!! Yahoo! Happy Birthday Mom!

And . . . Happy Mother’s Day Mom as well as all you other Mom’s out there!

(including those with furry children ;-)


***Footnote: I feel compelled to write of the Sinti and Roma people. They were gypsies who tracked down and killed by the National Socialist Party (or Nazi Party). There’s a detailed site in German which discusses the small bronze figure, “Ehra oder Kind mit Ball,” by Otto Pankok which was completed in 1955 to represent the Sinti and Roma; it’s located on the Rhine promenade in the old city near the Film museum.

+Sj out

References   [ + ]

1, 2, 3. see cute doggie photo
. . . where mom cleans us up in gin rummy! Stay tuned . . .

The Mother Chronicles 2 of 3

From Nürnberg to Düsseldorf — with a card shark !!!

After a couple of days wandering around in Nuremberg, it was time to head to our ancestors’ old stomping grounds near Düsseldorf: North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

We had the good fortune of arranging a home exchange in Düsseldorf’s hip MediaHarbor district (oder MedienHafen). Mom was a good sport about the apartment with a view being a walk-up.

First stop? The pad for a round of cards!

A final stroll down the Rhine.

The Mother Chronicles 1 of 3

Mom arrives at the Nuremberg airport !

(oder Nürnberg auf Deutsch : )

In honor of Mother’s Day 2014, I decided to post these three entries called “The Mother Chronicles.” From my preceding post, you can learn the why and what fors.

Looking back on this now, I realize (even more : ) how darn lucky we were to be able to take this trip together. That we had the time, the funds, the place to stay, the health, the gumption . . . I could go on and on (but I  won’t : ).

Danke, mahalo, merci, grazie, gracias, aw kohn . . . suffices for now.

So without further ado, here are shots from the first part of our trip together (after a brief visit to my sister’s for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh) in Nürnberg, Germany — home of the infamous Weihnachtsmarkt, as well as many other things . . .


Carnival southwestern Germany style!

Germany 2012 comes to a close . . .

Bringing Things Full Circle

Part of the impetus of this trip was to explore the tiny town of Krefeld, Germany with my Mother.

Why Krefeld?

In 1684, Paul Kuster, an ancestor on my maternal grandfather’s side, left that area of Germany (near the Rhine river) for the “free world.” One of thirteen families, the Kusters were part of the original emigrants to Pennsylviana, best known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Why Pennsylvania Dutch and not Pennsylvania German? Not sure. I googled it and found a site with a l o n g explanation of all the why and what-fores. All I DO know is that my grandfather fought for the United States in World War I and did not want to be associated with Germans at all!

How would he feel about his youngest granddaughter becoming enamored with the German language? No idea. He died when I was 6-months old.

My hostess during this final phase of my solo-trip found me through homeexchange.com. She wanted to visit Kauai and accessed the site through her girlfriend in Freiburg who was a member (and who btw has this lovely family you’ll see in the pix below : ).

“Krefeld?” my new friend thought, “Who wants to visit Krefeld????”

Incredulous that someone wanted to visit this tiny town near the border of the Netherlands, she contacted me anyway. One thing led to another, and in December 2011, my mother, husband, and I found ourselves in her COOL apartment in the Median district of Düsseldorf.

If you want to experience the Mother Chronicles, visit: the next couple of posts. : )))

So . . . at the end of my solo-trip, I found myself staying with and getting to know this incredible woman who I met through exchanging homes!!!  A woman who shared her apartment in Düsseldorf, just minutes away from our ancestors old stomping grounds, making it possible for my Mom to have an 80th birthday celebration full of dreams fulfilled.  Lucky us!

Thanks Christiane for your generosity and hospitality!!!

German Lessons Via Skype

Sj with her Mother making dreams come true. : )

Valentine's Day 2012 . . . went to vist a dear friend who lives in Italy. No, we're just good friends.

After visiting Henry & CERN, I flew to Italy!

Girlfriend time!

After devoting MOST of my time to increasing my German vocabulary, I found I needed a girlfriend fix. Women, you know what I mean. Nothing like girl-girl time to laugh, eat, and just plain enjoy each other’s company.

Thanks so much Glenn for sharing your home and hearth!!!

Without further ado, fav photos from this part of my trip:

Freshly cut hair on the floor

The European phase of the trip is drawing to a close . . .

Dear Friends,
Yesterday, while spending the day touring around Strasbourg on bike, I decided to get my hair cut. It was just time. As you can see from the above photo, it’s a lot shorter now than it was before.
What’s it look like?
Well, that will have to wait.
Not long after this photo was taken, the camera decided to stop working. Whether that was because I yet again accidentally dropped it on hard pavement or because I had just taken this photo, I don’t know. I’d been noticing for the past several days that the zoom motor was making an odd noise that reminded me of a person moaning while climbing steps, gasping while lifting a box of books, or panting after a slow and beleaguered sprint. It was tired.
Joan of Arc sculpture in Strasbourg
Joan of Arc
I do have photos to post from my visit to Geneva, Vincenza, Verona, Freiburg, Karlsruhe, and Strasbourg. They will arrive when the time is right.
Meanwhile, I’m off to Frankfurt today to meet a sorority sister from my college days. Tomorrow I’m going to Heidelberg (again with my friend’s bike in tow; so great how a person can bring their bike on some of the public transportation!) to re-enact the chicken dance that I learned there 30-years ago. : ) Care to join me? I think it’s going to be fun!
Saturday I’m bidding Germany auf Wienersehen and traveling to the land of fromage and croissants. I’m signed up to attend this cool dinner at Jim’s: http://www.jim-haynes.com/.  I’ll let you know how it is!
“Have I continued with my language studies?” you ask?
You betcha! The big surprise was that I’d use my French speaking skills to converse with people in Italy who don’t know English (or prefer to speak in French : ). And my current hostess has been so good about teaching me new words and phrases (and busting my butt to pronounce the ö correctly!  : ~ ) Today’s word? “stöbern.” Yes, that it had an “o” umlaut was handy indeed!
And a language thrill? Yesterday, when I asked for more cream for my large decaffeinated coffee (while in Strasbourg), the friendly waiter replied, “Prego.” (Italian for “you’re welcome”) I’ll take that!
And for now, I bid you all adieu. May your days continue to be bright, your nights peaceful, and your friends loving.
From your Zugvogel,
-s j
der Zugvogel = migratory bird.
My Berliner family gave me a new moniker. : )
Bedeutungen (meaning):
    [1] Biologie: Vogel, der die kalte Jahreszeit in warmen, meist südlichen Regionen verbringt, in die er im Herbst zieht. The only catch is that this Zugvogel did this in reverse by traveling to cold weather rather than warm weather!