Millennial Lifestyle

How to Be Happy

A simple way to improve your daily happiness.

Finding out how to be happy feels like one of life’s great and impossible missions. Whenever people ask me how I want to feel in life my first inclination is to cry out, “I just want to feel happy!” Doesn’t everyone?

Fortunately, there is no single answer to the happiness mystery. One of my many beefs with self-help books and lists of, “The Top 3 Ways to Be Happy” is that everyone is different and what works for you or me may not work for someone else. The uniqueness of us all is what makes life beautiful. Travelling and seeing the world makes me soooo happy. However, a homebody may dread the idea of hanging out in an airport for three hours.

Another thing that grinds my gears about “Top 3” lists is that they are often vague or quite difficult. For example, “Changing Your Thoughts” often appears on happiness guides. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a very effective method for changing your thoughts but it takes a lot of effort and willpower. One cannot simply stop thinking all negative thoughts at the drop of a dime. But when lists or guides say things like this, it can be so discouraging to someone who reads them and finds they cannot just change their thoughts.

If you have experienced this, you are not alone.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve tried to follow someone else’s list and failed only to feel worse off than when I started. Not to mention, bouncing around all of these different strategies without much success can feel very disenheartening. Finding what makes you feel best is so important to finding your way in this world.

happy moments and sunshine

A Simple Way to Improve your Happiness

I prefer to view finding happiness as making small tweaks to my current state. On a scale of 1-10, if I’m currently feeling like a five, what is one small thing I can tweak to get myself to a six? Maybe, I can go out for a brisk walk while blasting angry rap music. And if continually doing that when I feel I need a burst of happiness almost always pulls me up a number on my happiness scale then I need to continue to do that. Sometimes it might take more than one small thing to pull yourself up. That is okay too.

If you’re feeling like a five and cuddling your cat pulls you up to a six then cuddle your cat when you need a dash of happiness in your life. There is no shame in anything that makes you feel a little bit better in your daily life. Personally, watching videos of cats knocking down children always makes me laugh (See no shame). What never fails to make you laugh?

how to be happy

My trick to keeping track of what makes me happy is documenting it.

This year, I’ve started Bullet Journalling. I’m actually obsessed with it. The point being though is that in my journal I’ve dedicated two pages to things that make me happy. One is targeted for when I’m feeling low and the other is just things that I encounter in my life that make me feel happy. I find this helpful because it is my own personal guidepost to my own happiness.  Try it out! On days that I feel depressed or down it can very difficult to think of ways to get back up. However, if I have a list of my own ideas ready to go it feels much more hopeful. This is my happiness arsenal. If you find there are things that always make you feel happy, write them out and the next time you feel like you need to be pulled up a number on your happiness scale pull out the list. But make it your own. It is okay to seek inspiration from others but don’t feel pressure to be made happy by the same things.
bullet journal happiness

Clearly, I’m still working on my own list. They are also shaping up to be pretty similar.

Doing the things that make you happy in any way is a great way of finding yourself and creating a life you love. If saying affirmations works for you, do it! But if vacuuming your house works for you, do it! There is something reassuring about cleaning. For me at least. You might passionately despise housework. But it’s cool. You do you; I’ll do me. We can have different lists of how to be happy.

There is no foolproof way to create your happiness. You find out how to be happy for you. Let everyone else find out how to be happy for themselves.

As much as I hate how hokey this sounds, you really do have to look for ways to find it within.

as always arielle

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Millennial Lifestyle

Let’s Talk About Suicide

let's talk about suicide

Please Note: I am not an expert; however, I volunteered for three years on my local distress line and have gained experience in this area. And you don’t need to be an expert to start the conversation. Let’s talk about suicide.

Let’s Talk About Suicide

September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. As twenty-something millennials it is normal to feel some anguish or confusion about the future. However, there is a line between “What am I doing with my life?” and wanting to end your life. We definitely live in a culture where suicide is made light of with our language, we say things like, “If ____ happens then I’m going to just kill myself.” Or, “I’m so tired I could just die.” I am 100% guilty of doing this myself. Speaking in this way diminishes the experience that someone who is thinking of suicide might be having. It also might make it harder to recognize when someone is being serious about their thoughts.

Suicide is something that is highly stigmatized. Some families who have experienced a loss to suicide never talk about it. That loss is swept under the rug. In turn, this closes the doors for conversation if other family members are experiencing those same thoughts. However, this is tragic because simply knowing someone who has killed themselves increases risk of suicide. Talking about suicide is the only way to break down these barriers. If you are thinking about suicide you are not alone and there is help. Let’s talk about suicide and open those doors.

suicide

Let’s Talk About You

If you are genuinely thinking about killing yourself or having thoughts of doing so even if you aren’t intending on doing it, then it is very important to get some help. There are likely professionals in your area or you can talk to your family doctor about getting help. Talking to professionals or asking for help can be very scary and intimidating. It takes a lot of courage to admit that things aren’t right and a lot of strength to seek out help. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health issues the first person you speak to might not be helpful or supportive. This is understandably very discouraging, but please don’t give up on it if the first person you speak to isn’t helpful. You are worth everything. Keep searching until you find someone who understands.

If you find yourself in this place and are feeling alone or like no one cares, please know this is false. Often when people are experiencing suicidal thoughts they might feel this way but the reality is that there are people out there that do care.

Often times when someone is having suicidal thoughts it is less about wanting to die and more about wanting to end the pain that a person is experiencing. This pain can take many different forms and varies by the individual. Whatever pain a person is in is valid. And wanting to end that pain is normal. This life and death struggle is referred to as ambivalence. If you are experiencing pain, there are other ways of ending it.

suicide

Lets Talk About Help For Others

If you suspect that someone you know is thinking about killing themselves it is okay to just ask them. You won’t plant any ideas. Make sure that you ask the question directly, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” This opens up the door for conversation. A person who is not thinking about killing themselves will give a hard no. Someone who is may give a vague or non-answer or a just plain honest, “Yes.”

One of the reasons it’s important to have a conversation is that someone who is in that place may be experiencing perceived isolation. This is where they believe no one cares or no one would miss them if they were gone. While this is often far from the truth it is a common part of the negative spiral a person finds themselves in when they are depressed.

And please, never, ever, tell someone to, “Just get over it” or “Snap out of it.” This is more damaging than you could ever realize. And depression, suicidal thoughts or any other mental health concerns are so much more complex than this.

Let’s Talk About Suicide More

Many cities have a local distress line, here are resources for Canada and USA.

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Millennial Lifestyle

How to Overcome Fear and Follow Your Dreams

How to overcomer your fears

Recently, I went bungee jumping for the first time off of a 160-foot bridge (I like to go extreme or not at all) and I convinced my little sister to join me. As the older sister, I went first. Of course, the jump was scary, it is a massive bridge. But she was watching me. I knew that if I hesitated she would see it and it might affect her confidence jumping after me. I had to look over the ledge, take a deep breath and jump. It was amazing. However, I had to take a moment to face my own fear in order to instill confidence in someone else. We often praise those who overcome their fears and achieve great things. In facing your own fears, you may become an inspiration to others. You will not only achieve your own dreams; you will help others achieve theirs. Overcome fear and follow your dreams.

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Fear is a fickle friend. It can both motivate but also paralyze. Everyone feels fear, even the bravest people have been afraid at some point. Working past that fear to face a challenge can be so liberating. What fears are limiting you? What is making you afraid?

I had a fear of starting this blog. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough or that I wouldn’t have anything interesting and new to say. But I’ve been working past that fear to try something new.

Sometimes, taking the full plunge all at once might be too scary. Necessary for bungee jumping but not always necessary for other areas of life. If this is the case and fully jumping into something all at once is too much then take it in smaller steps.

A common treatment for phobias is exposure-based therapy. This is essentially, gradual exposure to the feared object. While a phobia is an irrational, extreme fear of something, this concept of gradual exposure can be utilized in coping with other fears as well. If jumping all in at once feels too unattainable for you then try breaking down your fear into smaller pieces and slowly build your way up to overcoming it.

In my blog example, it took me forever to actually start it. I slowly brainstormed my concept and researched and researched. I bought my web address but did nothing with it. Then I designed my site but didn’t make it public. But eventually you do just have to take the plunge. Accept the fear, acknowledge the feeling, and do it anyway. 

When I planned my recent trip to Spain I often found myself being asked about how I feel going to Europe with all of the terrorism happening. This frustrated me because I’m not going to change my life based on the idea that something might happen. I can’t stay home and live my life in fear. The city in which I live in has a mall that was called out as a possible attack site. I’m just as at risk at home as I am there. Letting fear take over can prevent you from having incredible opportunities.  Please, don’t let fear of what could go wrong stop you from following a dream (That being said, if there is a true and actual risk to your safety then don’t do it).

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Ways to Tackle Fear:

  1. Accept the feeling. It is okay that it scares you.
  2. Explore the fear. What is causing you to feel afraid? Truly. Be open and honest with yourself. Brainstorm what the possible causes might be. Figure out where this fear is coming from. If you don’t know the true reason why you’re feeling afraid then you can’t truly address it and change it. If the fear is that you won’t be successful in your endeavor, then know that any step in the direction of your dreams is a learning experience. It’s possible that you might not be successful by your standards but you learned something along the way that will make your next endeavor more successful.
  3. Face the fear. Whether it’s in small increments or all at once. Face the fear. You have to take that plunge. Trust me, it feels amazing.
  4. Live Your Dreams.

Please join me in the comments with some of your fears and how you have overcome them!

 

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

How To See Barcelona on a 20-Something Budget

how to see barecelona on a 20 something budget

We had an amazing time in Barcelona. The city has a vibrant nightlife, which suits us quite well, and no shortage of sights to see and things to do during the day.

How to See Barcelona on a 20-Something Budget

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Miles of candy in Mercat de la Boqueria.

Three Things You Must do in Barcelona:

  1. Mercat de la Boqueria: Everywhere you turn in this market your eyes will be accosted by splashes of different colours and distractions. I am all about a good market and this one did not disappoint. My taste buds were screaming with satisfaction the entire time we spent here. The market is also located along La Rambla, which is a great shopping street. You could make a day of it.
  2. Have shots at Espit Chupitos: With 700 to choose from and only costing 2 euro a piece, this can make for a spectacular night. More on this place down below.
  3. Waterfront: Barcelona has a great beach. Along the sand people make different sand sculptures. They do expect a tip if they catch you trying to take a photograph.

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There were a lot of different sand sculptures along the beach!

You may be surprised not to see La Sagrada Familia on my list. We did not actually go inside and were underwhelmed by the outside. I mean, it was nice, but it just didn’t do anything for us. The construction really took away the impact for us.

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Construction makes us sad.

We did make an appearance at Park Guell but we only scoped out some of the free portion and didn’t spend much time wandering through.

Nightlife in Barcelona

  • I just cannot say enough about Espit Chupitos. This is the best shots bar that I have ever been too, they have 700 to choose from. The first time we went, Jess and I teamed up with two other people from our hostel in an attempt to sample the most shots. We each bought rounds of different things. Harry Potter shots are lit on fire and served with an orange. Willy Wonka shots are served with whipped cream and chocolate. Pulp Fiction shots are essentially death in a tiny glass. Tutti Frutti is a sweet break from the other options. After this night of bonding, we hope to see these friends again when we visit Chicago this summer. Strategize to sample as many as you can! You’re in Europe, enjoy it! This is one of the many times in our friendship that Jess and I have noticed that we always drink harder than everyone we are with. But, we have the most fun.

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The names of all the different shots are listed on chalkboards at the back.

  • We went to Sutton twice and both nights that we went they played hip-hop. I love a good hip-hop night.  In Spain, the party starts late. If you go to the club before 1:30 am- 2:00 am (which is last call where I’m from), you may be the only people in the club. Try to get there late. I recommend napping before going. And pre-drinking because club drinks are pricey.
  • Another place we checked out was Opium. The security at this beach club is very strict, the guy in front of us was not allowed in because he was wearing pink shoes and another guy had to remove his earrings. That being said, creepy guys will always find their way in. Stand your ground. You don’t have to dance with anyone that you do not want to. I am no stranger to inviting guys to get away from my friends and myself.

Places to Eat:

Ramen-Ya Hiro: Every single time we walked by this ramen place there was a massive line. People start lining up 45 minutes before the place even opens. Naturally, we needed to know what the fuss was all about. The food was delectable. I never knew ramen could taste so good! In light of the long line, I asked the waiter if we could order a glass of wine to drink will we waited outside. He happily obliged us. Fun Fact: I tried edamame for the first time without knowing that it is essentially a green bean and you only eat the insides.

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This ramen was seriously so amazing! Worth a line.

Mercat de la Boqueria: I’m always a proponent of a good market. You can find every single type of food you could possibly want here. It is almost impossible to even make a decision. Don’t be hasty; wander the whole market before deciding. There is flavour and temptation around every corner.

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So many tantalizing options.

Pizza del Born: Located more centrally, this place makes a mouthwatering pizza. We needed this to recover after visiting Espit Chupitos.

Getting Around in Barcelona

Barcelona has a good metro system. Jess and I shared one metro card, as they don’t track who is using it. If you only need to go for a few stops through the city, this could be a wise idea for yourself and your travel mate. We were able to take the metro to a bus stop and a bus to the airport for only 6 euro.

Otherwise, we walked through the city.

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Yeah Barcelona Hostel

We stayed at Yeah Hostel, which was part of a larger chain of hostels throughout Spain and Portugal. Honestly, I loved this chain. The beds are massive with individual charging stations; there is plenty of space to lock up your things. The showers were great. The only thing that I didn’t love was the lighting. The rooms have terrible lighting. These hostels all offer a 15 euro pub-crawl which gives you open bar in the hostel for beer and sangria, followed by one bar, where you are meant to get drunk for cheap, and then head off to a larger club.

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Millennial Lifestyle

The Number One Reason You Need to Start an Emergency Fund in your 20s

the number one reason you need an emergency fund in your 20s

Uncertainty. You need to start an emergency fund in your 20s because life is so full of uncertainties and unknowns. Even when you think that you have planned for everything, those unknowns can rear their ugly head and ruin everything. Having an emergency fund is the perfect antidote to uncertainty. As we go through our 20s, many things will affect our financial situation. Be it job loss, a car breaking down, or some other incidental expense that you didn’t see coming. Some people may have parents who can bail them out of a tough spot, but what if you don’t? An emergency fund will save the day.

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I normally don’t tell many personal anecdotes but for this I will. This week I was hit with an unexpected vet bill (my cats are my children). The first vet I took my cat to told me that they think he has a blockage and if this is the case then he will need a $2000 surgery immediately to remove it or his bladder will explode in less than 24 hours. If you’re an animal lover you can imagine how hard this hit me.

One of the reasons this hit me so hard was because I am currently trying to stretch $500 over the next 12 days before my next pay check. I thought I was going to have to put down my beloved pet because I am financially unstable. (Luckily, I took him to a second vet and everything turned out okay).

Like many millennials, I am strapped with student loans and credit card debt. Somehow student loan has come to be known as “good debt” as if any kind of debt is actually good. When we have debt, big or small, it limits our options in life. It eats away at our financial freedom and stability. In my low point, I started to attack myself, “If I wasn’t in debt I could pay this vet bill no problem.”

We never like to think that things will go wrong. I enjoy my ignorant bliss that my cats are invincible. But what if something does? An emergency fund will make you so much more prepared to handle that incidental expense. Now sometimes it might be that you do have the money to fix the emergency but choose not too because you realize that it isn’t as important as you thought it was. That’s fair, but at least you were able to make that decision for yourself. The option wasn’t taken away from you due to poor financial planning.

As I sit with my cat lovingly beside me, I don’t regret spending the $400 it ended up costing to get him the care he needed. I just wish I could have done it in a more financially secure way.

So how do you start saving an emergency fund?

Figure out what an amount that you can save is per month and then have your bank set up an automatic withdrawal to your savings. If you make saving as effortless as possible the more effective you will be at it. I have been successfully saving $200 a month for the last year using this method. My savings account is one that cannot be easily accessed. Taking money out of it can have a processing time of up to 24 hours. This prevents me from making rash decisions. As someone who has always struggled to save, this has really helped me out a lot. Plus, I’ve been able to watch my progress grow. Having those savings has given me such a peace of mind. Even without something bad happening, simply knowing that there is money ready for me if needed is reassuring.

Any goal is always more attainable when you have a clear end point (My post on bucket lists, relates to this concept). Start small and slowly build your way up to 3-6 months worth of wages. For example, you could start by only wanting $500. This is much more attainable that starting off with aiming for $5000. With an emergency fund you will be well on your way to financial freedom and security. Being prepared for an emergency that may never happen is far better than being struck down by an emergency that you were never prepared for. 

Uncertainty can strike at any age; however, building up this emergency fund in your 20s lays a solid foundation for a financially secure future.

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Millennial Lifestyle

Why You Need to Start Practicing Gratitude

Being grateful for what you have is an underrated way to improve happiness. From Marie Kondo who is expresses gratitude for every dollar in her bank account to bloggers abound the internet gratitude is a big help. One of the things that I have been grateful for since starting out blogging is the support and kindness of other bloggers in the community. I never anticipated how supportive total strangers could be. To give thanks, on Fridays I will be posting links to other blog posts around the Internet that I have enjoyed and hope that you will too. In addition, I’ll also be posting a small gratitude list of things that I loved this this week or things that I am grateful for. P

Please join me in the comments! We should all share the gratitude in our lives. Or at least start practicing gratitude.

Posts for Practicing Gratitude:

*This may contain affiliate links. For more on what that means click here.

My Gratitude List:

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

The Ultimate San Sebastian Tapas Pub Crawl

Donostia San Sebastian is jam packed with crowded tapas bars. This makes it a perfect place for the ultimate San Sebastian Tapas Pub Crawl. Everywhere you turn in the old town you are greeted by delectable options. In other words, the only way to maximize the tapas and bar experience is with a tapa bar crawl. To save you the effort, we have prepared an epic tapas crawl experience for your savoury pleasure. San Sebastian will give you the true tapas experience, the tapas are on display around the counter and you must elbow your way in amongst the wall of people surrounding the bar to make your order. We often found that in San Sebastian knowing a little Spanish went a long way as English was not as commonly spoken.

 Without Further Ado, The Ultimate San Sebastian Tapas Pub Crawl

Stop Number 1:

First, head over to Paco Bueno and sample the prawns or calamari with a glass of white wine. For a grand total of 5.50 euro we enjoyed two glasses of wine and two tapas. Despite the low price, the food was excellent. We actually both started and finished our own pub-crawl with this place because we were so impressed. The second time we visited that night we got to bear witness to the bartender’s frustration over the football game, it felt so Spanish.

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Paco Bueno prawns and calamari. Muy bien

Stop Number 2:

Nagusia Lau is located right next door to Paco Bueno and does excellent sangria. There are a variety of tapas spread out on the bar to choose from. You can’t go wrong as they all looked wonderful. The prices were all around 3 euros a tapa. The atmosphere of this place is less fast paced. Other tapas bars make you feel a rush of adrenalin trying to squeeze up to the bar to get your order. But, at Nagusia Lau, you can casually saunter up to the bar to make your selection and peacefully sit at a nearby table. Hence, this is great for first timers.

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Do not be fooled by the lack of a crowd. The tapas were delectable.

Stop Number 3:

Located close to Paco Bueno, we next hit up Atari. Here, we did not end up going for tapas. Instead, we ordered a plate of palatable calamari and two gin tonics. This place is “famous” for its gin tonics. Not that we get how a place can be famous for gin tonics. You take gin, you take tonic and voila! You have a gin tonic. Sadly, we do not even like gin tonics but ordered them anyway just to try the “famous” version. The glass was massive and freely poured to half a glass full of Tanquery gin. And drumroll….. it tasted like every other gin tonic. We struggled to finish them. However, if you are into gin tonics then this place is for you!

Atari was a little bit more highly priced than some of the other tapas bars we explored. Fortunately, there is a lot more seating. Since we ordered a meal not a tapa we got bread which we promptly pocketed as the massive gin tonics went straight to our heads.

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This is the most gin tonic I have ever drank in my life.

Stop Number 4:

Karrika Taberna looks like a hole in the wall, as do most of the San Sebastian tapas bars. But, once inside, they offer well-priced white wine at 1.30 euro and a relaxed ordering experience. Above the bar you can see ham or jamon hanging. It was by this point that I got more drunkenly confident in my Spanish and attempted to both ask and then order the bartenders favourite tapa. “Tu favorito?” I ended up with a sausage with an egg on top. I actually highly recommend this! If you see an item that looks like this, try it. It was mouthwatering.

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This is what the bartender’s favourite was and it was an unexpected delight.

Stop Number 5:

Bar Restaurante Gandarias was another tapas bar stuffed to the brim of people where you really need to work your way through the crowd to order. Do it though! Their selection was hard to choose from as it was all so enticing.

Stop Number 6:

Bar-Goiz-Argi is known for its prawns. This place was again a little more expensive, we paid about 9.50 euro for our tapas. However, we really enjoyed the prawns and all of the other food that came out looked equally as scrumptious.

5205579A-002D-4A5A-9498-94408F4E3CE0         This post is making me crave tapas.

After our tapas crawl we staggered back to our hostel, Urban House, while our taste buds sighed with delight.

Final Words

These are the six places we visited when we went out on our pub-crawl. You cannot go wrong though. If you see a place that look tasty or interesting, pop in there. Most of the time the tapas and drinks are fairly cheap so it does not hurt to sample. We stopped at six because that is where we got too full.

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A Millennial's Travel Advice

Things You Must Do In San Sebastian, Spain

how to see san sebastian on a budget

If I had to choose one word to describe San Sebastian I would have to go with stunning. There are many things you must do in San Sebastian.

One of the things that you need to do in San Sebastian is hike Mount Urgull. The top of the mountain can be reached in two ways. One is by walking past the aquarium. You should be following the castle signs as the Jesus statue is located on top of an old castle.

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Jesus from atop the hill.

The alternative is to take the stairs next to the San Telmo Museoa. What we ended up doing was starting at the aquariam and finishing at the San Telmo Museoa. This your best bet because you will be able to catch a variety of different view points. Trying to actually selfie with the Jesus statue results in very unflattering angles but you can definitely try it out. Taking the exit towards the museum gives a viewpoint of Zurriola Surf Beach; however, it was not particularly wavy during our visit.

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Zurriola Surf Beach from the Museum exit. Does life get any better?  

Near the Zurriola Surf Beach you can board either a little red train tour or a hop on hop off bus.

We opted for the small red train as it only cost 5 euro. This has no stops but does provide an audio tour lasting about a half an hour of San Sebastian. We liked the opportunity to see more of the city.

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The view from atop Mount Igueldo. The larger mountain behind us is Mount Urgull.

Another mountain that you must visit in San Sebastian is Mount Igueldo.

Whereas Mount Urgull involves a hike, this gem can be reached by taking a funicular up the mountain. The funicular is a little hard to spot but it is essentially a cable car that you take you up to unbelievable viewpoints of the entire city. For only a few euro it was well worth it. There is a little café up here if you are a sucker for a meal with a view, which I am.

coffee with a view

I’ll take my morning coffee with a view any day.

Finally, the tapas of San Sebastian make this a must see for any trip to Spain.

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