The first night in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa,) where I had arrived at the age of 20 to start my year abroad from university, had been an orgy of cheap wine, pintxos and music by Santana. This had led to the worst hangover of my life.
Part Two: After the Hangover
By the time I was fit to drink alcohol again two days later the price of wine had doubled to two pesetas a glass! That’s one hundred per cent inflation! The locals were up in arms, but we didn’t care, as it was still ridiculously cheap, less than 2d (<1p). By comparison a pint in the UK in 1970 was about two shillings (10p).
Once we were billeted with families, the only affordable option, we spent the next three months enjoying our new surroundings and new life. Typically mornings were spent on the beautiful beach of la Playa de la Concha, afternoons at lectures and evenings in the Old Part checking out the range of delicious pinchos and monitoring the price of the wine, before heading back to our digs for dinner prepared by our landlady Maria Nieves, Snow White as we called her!
The three months went quickly by, after which we were left to our own devices for three months. I’d got myself work in the office of a local tour operator, which eventually turned into a job as a guide collecting British and Irish pilgrims from Lourdes in France and showing them the high life of this most beautiful of the Basque cities.
After my six months’ sojourn in Spain it was off to Stuttgart for a placement as a translator at Daimler-Benz, the car manufacturer. But Germany just wasn’t the same and I missed the carefree, life-on-the-streets ambience of España.
The next several summers were spent repping back in Lourdes/San Seb, before the demands of a job in teaching and a new marriage made it too difficult to sustain.
Over the next several decades we (my wife and subsequently our two children) explored most parts of Spain through holidays and business trips. Although the country changed dramatically and quickly after the death of the dictator Franco in November 1975, it remained a great attraction for us all. Over the years our jobs took us to Madrid, Barcelona and Oviedo (Asturias) for short visits, which enabled us to experience something other than the sand, sea and sun of the ever more ghastly development of the costas.
To be continued …..