DONOSTIA - SAN SEBASTiÁN
 
 
 
With a population of 180.000 inhabitants, Gipuzkoaís capital, Donostia-San Sebastian, is a synonym for culture, tourism and leisure. Famous for its beaches, beauty and international cultural events, San Sebastián looks out on to the Bay of La Concha framed by Igueldo and Urgull hills and Ondarreta and Zurriola beaches which provides the finishing touch to the superb, French-influenced sweep of the city itself. Today, San Sebastian is an attractive, lively, cosmopolitan city.

The Old Town and the Boulevard is the heart of the City, with many good bars and restaurants as a testimony of the enjoyement Basque people get from good food and an endlessly creative gastronomy.
 
At the beginning of the century, the city was the summer residence for much European royalty, and today it retains much of its aristocratic character. Jazz and classical music festivals, an international film festival, world-class sporting events, a race-course and a casino are just some of the cityís attractions. Thousands of tourists, and much of the art world, come to Donostia-San Sebastián to laze on the beaches and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
 
There is only one national airport in San Sebastián (Fuenterrabía-Hondarribia). There are daily flights to Madrid, Barcelona and other main Spanish cities by Iberia (Spanish airlines). The International Airport of Bilbao (100 Km. from San Sebastián) has daily direct flights to all main european airports.

Nine buses link Madrid (469 Km.) and San Sebastián from 07:30 to 00:30. Three buses link daily Barcelona (529 Km.) to San Sebastián at 08:00, 15:30 and 23:30. Intercity buses are very cheap, but sometimes different companies have different stations in the same city.

Renting a car is not as cheap as in the US. Automatic cars are rare. All modern gasoline cars (e.g. rental cars) run on unleaded petrol only. Signalling is standard european. Generic speed limits are: 50 km/h in villages, towns and cities. 90 km/h in roads without shoulders.100 km/h in roads with shoulders.120 km/h in highways. There are two kinds of multiple lane roads: autopistas (pay roads) and autovias (free). In roads with shoulders you will many times find a slow vehicle lane on the right when going uphill, so there are two lanes going uphill and one going downhill.

US drivers: i) Observe that in multiple lane roads, you should use the fast lane (the one most to the left) only for overtaking (and then return to one further right). ii) Turning right at a red traffic light (as in some states) is not allowed. Please be careful at zebra crossings: many spanish drivers are not very respectful of them.

Public city transportation is efficient and cheap. Taxi is cheaper than in most european cities. There is a "taximeter" that is switched on when the passenger enters the taxi and shows the amount all the time. Taxis are normally owned by the driver or a small company, but fares are absolutely fixed and equal for all taxis (in fact taximeters are controlled periodically by the local authorities). There are also fixed suplements for pickups at the airport and railway stations, for carrying luggage... (they all appear explicitly in a sticker in the windows of the rear doors). Taxis are white with a diagonal red line in the front doors. If free there is a small green light turned on on the roof or a libre (free) plate is visible through the windscreen.

San Sebastián is in general a safe city. Anyway be careful about pickpockets at touristic places or crowded places. The night ambient of the city can be enjoyed without any special care.Unfortunately the English level of the population is in general low. For instance showing your taxi-driver a paper with the name and address of the hotel written on it can be a good idea (if you don't speak spanish). Because of the short distance to the French border, French language is usually well known.
 
 
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