San Sebastian, Spain..The’re Tapa’s…Not Topless!

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Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 9.59.18 PMHave you ever been to Spain and walked through the beautiful streets watching the crowds of people gather outside a bar with a glass of wine in one  hand and a plate in the other full of delectable goodies?

If you did…would you know what to do?  How do I get one of these amazing looking tapas  for me?


This is the UNSTOPPABLE’s First experience walking into a “Tapa’s Bar in San Sebastian Spain…



PART II  We Figured It Out!

After a few days I started to ask some questions..and did a little research on what tapa’s are and what to expect.

This is what I found:

What are tapas?

tapTapas go back a long way in Spanish history. Some argue they were an invention of Spanish King Alfonso X ‘The Wise’, who took small portions of food with a glass of wine between meals. The more widely accepted theory is that tapas originated as a snack for field workers during the long hours between breakfast and lunchtime. Wine was also served in a ceramic jug covered with a piece of bread and some Serrano ham or cheese to prevent flies diving straight into the wine (tapa literally means cover or lid).

Tapas are meant to be a light appetizer between meals to help gulp down some wine or beer. No wonder the most popular times to go de tapeo for Spaniards is midday or during the evening before dinner time. This may surprise the thousands of tourists who have been sold a different concept back in their home countries, but there are many differences between these tapas restaurants and the real Spanish experience

Do you pay for tapas?

more tapasContrary to popular belief, there is no need to reach for your wallet whenever a waiter brings a beer to your table with a small plate of anchoas en vinagre on the side. You don’t pay for tapas as they are given out of gratitude for ordering drinks in a bar. The price of your drink remains unaffected whether you choose to have the tapa or not (although it is good manners to eat it) but if you know you are definitely not going to try the mejillones (mussels), it’s okay to tell the waiter when they bring them.

Tapas etiquette

tapasTapas are generally volunteered but you will also find some Spanish customers, most likely regulars, who cheekily pose the question ‘¿tienes alguna tapa?‘ (have you got any tapas?), to try and wing a freebie. Pay attention to the answer: if the waiter nods and walks away, they will deliver the goodies. But if they start reciting the menu, it means they will charge you for whatever you choose. It’s a subtle, but obvious, difference: you don’t get to choose your tapas, but if you pay you are welcome to help yourself to the best of the menu. These paid portions are usually called pinchos (one to two portions) or raciones (a serving size for up to three people) to differentiate them from tapas.



Living in Spain is more than an adventure…it is an experience that every person deserves to have.

We have been traveling now for nearly 5yrs.  and have enjoyed some of the best food, experienced the amazing cultures of the world and met some of the greatest people.   Thank you for taking the time to read our posts and follow us along this journey.


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Brian & Rhonda Swan







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