No one would have come here with me, even if I’d asked them to, I thought to myself, shivering in the rain.
It was a late Friday morning. I was standing at a bus stop in the rain, in a Spanish city whose signs were written in Basque. Which was making matters more confusing as I don’t speak Basque.
A few days prior, when I’d spontaneously booked a trip to San Sebastian, I’d been playing with Google Maps. I noticed that San Sebastian wasn’t too far from the French border. So, I started looking at the towns along the border, and scrolling at the images. Nothing too interesting.
Until I found this:
Colorful buildings and houses that reminded me of Guatapé, Colombia. Cozy looking wooden balconies. And 200 meters away from France. Surely I’d be able to see France from the Spanish border.
Well, I’m going there, I decided. I didn’t even know if the entire town looked this colorful, or if it was just one street. But it looked like a fun quest for the day to find said colorful buildings.
Even though I’m unable to visit France at the moment, there weren’t any rules against looking at France from Spain. I’d look at Canada across the Detroit River while standing from Michigan. Looking is fine.
So, there I was. Standing at a bus stop in the rain with a bunch of elderly people. Clearly the only foreigner visible. Though at this point, I’m so used to people staring that I feel slightly offended when people don’t stare. I’m kidding. Kind of.
To my surprise, I wasn’t the only tourist on the bus. Over the years, seeing someone in cargo shorts and carrying a large backpack has been a sign of relief, because I’m probably on the right path to something interesting, and not heading to the outskirts of town. Again. (Though I must argue that, once I get back, it’s an interesting story.)
A few bus stops later, I realized I had no idea where the best place would be to get off. I figured I could take the bus all the way to the end of the route, which was near the beach. However, once the bus stopped near a monument and everyone else got off, I decided I would follow suit.
I absolutely adore the fact that you can be casually walking around in Spain, and out of nowhere, find yourself next to a monument, castle, church, or all three at once.
As I walked into the small town, I was taken back hundreds of years on cobblestone streets (which are very comfortable when you are wearing strappy summer sandals). As I walked under the rain, I looked up at French balconies and brick buildings that looked even more romantic in the gloomy weather.
And then I came across the plaza that I found on Google Maps. Was Hondarribia worth the hype?
My friends, even in the rain, it was so worth the hype.
From the turn on a street corner, I found myself taken from historic and romantic Spain, to what looked like Denmark with the wooden railings and bright colors. (Not that I’ve ever been to Denmark, but for some reason, it was the first thing that came to mind.)
These buildings couldn’t have been cuter. The main plaza was a bit empty, given the weather, but there was a shopping street that was filled with tourists and locals browsing around, and enjoying a lunch and ice cream. There were several cute shops as well, of which I bought some postcards.
But you know one of the main reasons I had to come here. I wanted to see France.
And there it was! 200 meters away!
Going on this trip to Hondarribia reminded me why spontaneous trips can be so fun. Yes, sometimes visiting a city just by finding it on a map can sometimes not live up to your expectations (not going to mention any names), but sometimes, it can surprise you even more than you thought.
Walking around in this small city all day was worth it. Another solo travel success story, because there is no way most people would have agreed to come with me.
Since I don’t know how to conclude this post with words, I shall conclude with gorgeous photos to convince you to visit someday as well.