“Orla you are a hipster, but I guess you’re different because you actually LIKE that kind of stuff.”
(To paraphrase a friend who made this remark yesterday)
I was spoilt for brunch in Dublin. Spoilt for burritos, falafel, Thai food and almond-milk Americanos. I was a person who spent most of her money on pretending she lived in New York and ordering iced coffee when the temperature rose above 15 degrees. I did yoga in a converted mill.If I wanted to go to the cinema, I went. If I wanted to go listen to pop, rock, electro, indie, disco, house, 80s, 90s, noughties.. I went. If I wanted a coffee bigger than my palm, I ran into any one of seventeen cafés nearby . If I wanted a gourmet turkey burger with sweet potato fries, I devoured one. If I wanted a pretentious book, I bought three. I worked in the centre of hipster existence beside Trinity College and I lived five minutes away from the painfully gentrified Stoneybatter and Smithfield. I was exactly what Wikipedia defines as a hipster without the benefits of looking cool. I was also stone broke.
I feel a little lost here. A drifter in search of a barista who offers to top my coffee up with water because I sound English. Where is my beacon of hope in a valley of tiny Café solos? I swear I beamed at a poor innocent today when he offered to do me that solid. Hipster culture is struggling to emerge in Donostia. For one, I feel like beards are not a modern phenomenon here but more of a given when it comes to Basque men. The people of Donostia do not strike me as the kind of people who would appreciate the prices of coffee rising any higher to fund some pretentious trend. Thankfully I have found a few places that are satisfying my cultural needs without any of the negative elements of overpricing or simply looking good on the outside.
For one there’s Koh Tao. Also known as my living room.. I love Koh Tao. I love their chairs, music, bar people, wobbly tables, weird gigs, wifi, juice, coffee and cake. I like it during the day when no one’s there and I can sit upstairs with my work husband and people watch as I mark. I like it on a Sunday when I’m so hungover that I cannot see and a nice man hands me a freshly-pressed orange and pineapple juice. I like it in the evenings when I meet my Irish bestie for coffee and we have three mojitos with ice slam-crushed by the barman. After Koh Tao on treat days I usually have an appointment at Bideluze for a toasted sandwich and agua frio. This is where my Basque mom lives. She gives me food, extra mayonnaise and praises my Spanish even when she is horrifically busy. Another great though pricey place for food is La Madame, where we’ve been known to enjoy a good brunch on Sunday mornings.
After Hallowe’en, I eventually wandered over the bridge for entertainment to Egia where I sometimes also go walking in the morning. I like this area because it’s a little less pristine than Centro or Parte Vieja and gives the illusion of being in a bigger city. I have settled appropriately on revisiting the two most hipster places in that area- Dabadaba and Le Bukowski. Le Bukowski being a place I had already wanted to visit before I came because it’s called Le Bukowski and I’m fucking lame. Bukowski would probably spin if he had lived to see brunch or a bunch of chequered shirts drinking cheap beer under his name in neon red light but I’m a sucker for a literary reference and others who are suckers for the same thing. In fairness, they are two of the only gig venues in Donostia and although all my memories of there are blurry, they put on good shows that are generally free.
My ultimate spot however, home to my pre-weekend mini sessions, is Alboka, a tiny bar near Plaza Easo. It can often be just us and a few others with the barman but it is always a chilled evening. He is the grandad who never wanted me. His tunage ranges from Arcade Fire to Nick Cave to Talking Heads and this Thursday he played a National song and my love for his establishment hit the roof.
By writing this I have simply ruined my favourite places by loading them with visiting hipsters but until the Christmas edition I’m running out of things to write about. I also want to encourage people to visit next semester.
Next blog to include a small percentage of this weekend’s activities including a trip to Bayonne Christmas market and Durango Book Fair.