The Faces of Culture : Fernando Álvarez Busca, DSS2016

2016: a new year, a new series on the blog.  In the past I’ve explored tapas on Tuesdays and my favorite spots on Mondays, but this year is a special one. In 2016, San Sebastián is one of Europe’s Capitals of Culture. What does that mean? More on that later, but at its most basic, a recognition for a distinctive cultural offering and a whole lot of EU-funded activities.  

To celebrate this special year, I will be interviewing the most important faces of culture in San Sebastián,  Once a week you will hear from a different figure who figures into the music, art, food, sports, and language that make San Sebastián THE BEST PLACE EVER. 

And, fittingly, the year of ‘The Faces of Culture Fridays’ kicks off with one of the key players of DSS2016, Fernando Alvarez Busca.  Hope you enjoy this new series…leave comments below!

Fernando Alvarez Busca is the director of communication of the Capital of Culture 2016 program.  A journalist by trade, this thirty-something has lived across the world, everywhere from Hong Kong to Rome. He participated in the drafting of the document that helped San Sebastián win the title, and now he is at the helm of it, organizing activities over 365 days that range from plein aire dinners to puppetry festivals to public academic dialogues. It’s complicated…but he still managed to take some time out to kick off this year’s series “San Sebastián : Faces of Culture”.

*Current gig:  Director of Donosti Capital of Culture 2016
*Instagram/Twitter: @fabusca in both.
*Website: not yet.
*I’m reading: I’ve had “En la orilla”, by Rafael Chirbes, for months waiting to be opened
*I’m listening to: El cumbion de los Andes, by Chancha Via Circuito

Where are you from
I was born in Pamplona, but I’ve been donostiarra (the local term for a resident of San Sebastián), since I was three.

How long have you lived in San Sebastián?
Since I returned from my travels as a journalist, five years. 

San Sebastián in one word: Demure (modosita)

What is your favorite way to experience the culture of San Sebastián?
It has always been the Trueba [the local theater that shows artsy and esoteric films in their original version]. Now, many more ways—the Victoria Eugenia, for example. 

What is the café/bar/restaurant you find yourself in most often?
Bar Zabaleta.

What’s your perfect Saturday plan in San Sebastián? 
Pack up and surf with friends in nearby Bidart. Then, at night, drinks in Dabadaba. 

What is your favorite pintxo?
The tortilla at Zabaleta. Also, the gilda at Casa Valles, nigiri de toro in Kenji, the ham croquette at Buenavista, hummus in Drinka, the ‘falcón’ at Falcón…

The best spot for a selfie in San Sebastián? 
I’m not a selfie person, but I guess the beach wall at Sagües. 

What changes do you see happening here in the next 10 years?
People will dance more in the bars. 

What is the thing you hope never changes?
I hope to never need a car. 

It’s January 20th, the day of San Sebastián. What are you doing? 
I usually am beating the drum in the Old Town…but this year I have to work. [DSS2016 kicks off formally two days after the Tamborrada}

In your opinion, what makes San Sebastián stand out, what makes it different?
The fact that all of us donostiarras believe very intensely that it is.

What is the moment you have felt most proud to be donostiarra? 
I don’t think it’s pride, but playing the Marcha on the day of San Sebastián at noon in the Plaza of the Constitution is usually quite exciting

If San Sebastián were your best friend, what advice would you give her?
I would try to get her to leave her idiot of a boyfriend for me. 

If you were a foreigner, what would the ‘insider’ tip that you would like to know about San Sebastián? 
I actually would also like for someone to tell me the answer to this question. 

The most overrated thing about San Sebastián:
Surfing in La Zurriola. For real, it’s so overrated.  It is not worth it. Please, don’t come surf here. 

A typical day for you: 
Lately, I’ve been spending all day in Bomberos [the former firehouse that is now the headquarters of the 2016 Capital of Culture]. I eat breakfast at Udaberri at 9 a.m.  Tachycardia by 11 a.m.  At 2:30 p.m., I eat a bowl of rice and yakitori in Nikkei, and then it’s another attack of tachycardia at 5:00 p.m.. Post-heart attack laughs around 8 p.m. A few beers with a friend until dinnertime. 

That's it! Come back every Friday for a new Face of Culture from San Sebastián!