The Worst Sunburn of All Time

san sebsThey say you always remember your first, and in the case of San Sebastian, my first experience at a nude beach is one that I will not forget anytime soon.

We arrived in San Sebastian after a bumpy ride. San Sebastian itself is actually a beach resort town – but apparently, we were staying up in the mountains – population: you. We appeared to be the only guests in the hotel, a large manor that had a variation of rooms. Paige and I were assigned a closet sized room with two single beds, a small bathroom and the lovely view of the side of the hotel. You can imagine our dismay when we walked down the hall to our friends’ room, and walked right into a sprawling, 2 queen-bed beauty with a lounge area, beautiful balcony and view of the grounds.


San Sebastian, very close to the French border, is small but extremely popular among tourists. On our first day, we drove into town and visited the Basilica, modest and built in just 1919. Then, we hiked up the side of the mountain to find the most beautiful view in the entire city. It was time consuming, but worth it. Side note – do not hike in skirts. It will not do you well.

I was pretty stoked to be finished the hikeDown the mountain, and directly to the beach… and, oh my, topless women everywhere! We thought we might have to do the same in order to enjoy the beach, but luckily found out that this particular beach was clothing-optional. Still, if you’ve ever bought an ice cream cone next to a topless woman and not been a bit confused, then you’re far more cultured than I was at 17!

unsure on the beach

We returned to the hotel and, by the time dinner rolled around, it became clear that while most of our friends had acquired a nice, golden brown tinge to their skin, Paige and I were burnt to a crisp. I’ve never had such a bad sunburn in my life. To this day, the tanlines I gained from my tank top are still the first to appear when I’ve had any sun. Tina had sun lotion hand prints on her shins that still showed up years later. There’s something about the San Sebastian sun…

It got so bad that Paige and I decided to spend the next free day in our beds, rather than on the beach. This may have been the best decision of the trip. We had been traveling nonstop for 15 days, now, waking up at 6:30, staying up until midnight… sometimes, when traveling, it’s important to take a day off to rest, recuperate, and get ready for the next adventure. We did just that, slept the day away and left our rooms only when the maid shooed us away so she could clean. We wandered through the little, abandoned town, and it would not shock me if we were the only two people up in the mountains that day. Still, it was worth it!

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