Thirty years post-dictatorship and with loads of money still floating around despite the recession, San Sebastián is facing a first-world crisis. Many of the shops (and bars) that have been around for years, that bear the stamp of an older, quainter time, are closing. The culprit is often retirement, and the outcome is typically a takeover by someone with a great new idea for an e-cigarrette shop or another sub-par bakery outlet. If locals (and I'll include myself here) aren't complaining about what a shame it is that all the old style shops are closing, then they're probably too busy griping about how soullessly modern the newest bar or shop is. But to that I say...let's support the shops we've got! Check out these gems next time you're shopping in San Sebastián. The first, pictured above:
shop: Semillas Elosegui
wares: seeds and gardening tools
don't miss: I like to call this San Sebastián's most overlooked souvenir shop. Forget the porcelain lauburu ashtray...take your loved ones some seeds. Guindilla, Pimiento de Gernika, alubia de Tolosa...all the stars are here, and it's a gift that will keep on giving.
address: Fermin Calbeton Kalea, 9
shop: Casa Ponsol
wares: Hats. De toda la vida.
don't miss: The Basque beret par excellence. Also, a lot of other really cool hats and even a bit of fine clothing.
address: Calle de Narrica, 4
shop: Cuchilleria V. Colmenero
wares: Sharp things.
don't miss: This is the spot to get knives sharpened in the city. They also have incredible old sailor's knives, pocketknives, and other assorted knick-knacks that wowed my husband and impressed me.
address: Narrika Kalea, 8
shop: La Bretxa market
wares: Seafood, charcuterie, cheese, vegetables and fruit.
don't miss: This entry is a bit of cheating, as the actual interior is not preserved well or in a historically accurate manner. But it is the city's largest and best market for the fruits of the sea. Cold, wet and crowded with renowned chefs and housewives elbow to elbow for the best monkfish, anchovies, and codfish.
address: La Bretxa, bajo