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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Pamplona (Spain) II.

Pamplona -(Spain) Camino de santiago
Camino in the province of Navarre

05.06.2008 - 05.06.2008 -8 °C
View Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (Spain) on IsleHopper's travel map.

Before we started our journey, I had kept a daily diary of our walk, the altitude of each village and town, its historical monuments etc, unfortunately this diary was lost in Santiago de Compostela. I suspect I left it either in the alberge where we stayed the first night, or it was left in the hostal where we stayed the next three nights. And since I get the address of this hostal in the diary itself, I could not contact the owner and to my regret, some details about the places will be from our memory.

The city of Pamplona was founded by the Roman General Pompey in 74 BC and although the Pilgrims' Way to Santiago in Navarre begins on the slopes of Pyrenean mountains at Luzaide/Valcarlos and reaches Orreaga/Roncesvalles, (which is, because of its mountainous rough and rocky way, one of the most difficult parts of the pilgrimage and many pilgrims who start there develop foot problems) it has become the starting point for thousands of pilgrims and is the most popular route. This is known as the French Route, the most important because of the number of pilgrims passing through it, crossing the region diagonally, passing Pamplona and exiting at Viana towards LogroƱo in the region of Rioja.

                 The street thru' which the bulls run to the bullring during the festival of San Fermin

                            Hemingway made Pamplona famous. His statue facing the bullring
                              The old bar where Hemingway used to hangout during the festival.

                                             In the background is the new bullring.
          Large figurines in the meuseam dedicated to memorabolia of the festival of San Fermin
                             when these firgures are burned at the end of the festival.

Our hostel in Pamplona was in the center of the city, we just went down the street and reached the Town Hall and Government office building and be in the Plaza del Cassstillo. The plaza is full of terraces and bars and cafes, from which the city's daily life can be observed. The neighbouring streets of San Nicolas, Estafeta and Calle Comida are full of typical Tapa Bars where you can have a variety of tapas and a selection of best Navarre wines and cold Cider, which is a popular drink.

We rested in our hostel room until 11.00am. Simply could not sleep, so we got ready to visit the city. The morning was cool and although it had stopped raining steadily, it was still drizilling and the city looked washed and quiet. There was not much traffic and we strolled down to have breakfast and to visit the city's historical monuments. The city of Pamplona is small but is full of plazas and parks, churches and the world famous annual San Fermin festival which starts from 6th July and lasts nine days, full of frollicking and singing and dancing in the streets, drinking wine and eating regional food and generally enjoying oneself. We had bocadillos de jamon cerrano, chorizo and tortilla de patatas, cool red wine and delicious coffee. In another bar a little later, we had cod crockets and fish stuffed with mushrooms, green pimiento and bechamel. Delicious.

As I said before, Pamplona has may parks, the oldest is Taconera Park, designed in 7th century, full of wide pedestrian paths and sculptures. The Town Hall is an outstanding building, its facade of Baroque architecture of XVIII century as are the Palacio Episcopal and the Seminary of St. John the Baptist. There are many churches in and around the city and the outstanding is the Gothic Cathedral with its beautiful Cloister and its neoclassical facade. Two more Gothic churches are of St. Sernin and st. Nicolas, both built during the XIII century. and worth a visi

We went to the Plaza de Torros (Bull Ring) and I saluted the statue of Hemingway. The Hemingway bar in front of the Ring has, since many years, a new front, and a shinning metal door. The bar was closed, so I do not know if it still kept the empty wine barrels as tables on which were piled ceramic jugs of wine and tasty tapas by the waiters and the customers just went on eating and drinking. As many of you must know, Hemingway had a long love affair with Spain and Pamplona was one of his favorite cities. Papa Ernesto is well remebered for his drinking orgies, long and winding talks about bulls and bull fighters and he even wrote two novels about them. "Death in the Afternoon" and "Fiesta: The Sun also rises", powerful and intense novels about the society attached to the Corridas de Torros.

We also had a very intense and pleasant day in Pamplona and in the evening, tired but content, returned to our hostel and rest and sleep and be ready to start early our walk towards Santiago de Compstela.
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