Really Fun Day in Pamplona

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September 11th 2016
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 42.818, -1.64422

September 11-Zabaldika to Pamplona
The French kept Sue awake all night and Dave only half the night! By 6:15 they were in full get-up mode and Sue was finally in full go-to-sleep mode - not a good combination! Then, after waiting her turn in the bathroom queue, the French woman jumped the line!

Breakfast of poor coffee, toast, butter and jam was from 7:00 to 8:00, we went down fully packed out about 7:45 and were on the Camino by 8:00. Sue was not her normal cheery self for at least the first 1/8 of a mile. In fact, when Sue told Joyce what a bad night she had to explain her grouchy mood, Joyce said, "Wow, you do really well with "grouchy"!

We had decided to head the 10 kilometers to Pamplona and get our coffee there. We hiked most of the way with Joyce who we had met the night before.

The first hour was trail and countryside until reaching Trinidad de Arre, a beautiful town with an impressive arched stone bridge entrance to the city center. From there it was hiking through suburban Pamplona until we reached the massive wall surrounding the city and entered through the Old City Gate.
Within just a few blocks we found the albergue we were hoping would have beds for us and they did! It was only about 10:00, we left our packs and were told to return at 11:00.

We found a bakery/coffee shop and ordered two coffee con leche and a 1/2 baguette. Our left-over salami made for a perfect breakfast sandwich.

After checking into Albergue de Pamplona Iruna, we headed out to explore this beautiful walled city known for the Running of the Bulls.

Unlike the deserted streets at 10:00, at noon they were packed and medieval costumed street performers were performing throughout the narrow streets. The central Plaza del Castillo is a 200-yard square with a gazebo type structure in the center and is surrounded by sidewalk cafes and restaurants. One of the most impressive buildings was the City Hall. You can't go to Pamplona without going to the bull ring -- wish they would have had a tourist gate so we could have gone inside. The Cathedral is as beautiful as any we have seen with its many guilded side alters.

We toured for a couple of hours and spent the next couple on Estafeta Street, the one the bulls run on. We enjoyed a couple of tapas and more than one beverage. It was great people watching but the highlight was spending an hour face-timing with Bligh and Brennan. They were waiting for his baseball game to start and we even got to show some of his teammates the street the bulls ran on and they all said they would do it!

We went back to the albergue and wrote a couple days worth of blogs, showered and headed out for tapas. We found many great bars serving such a great variety of tapas(actually called pinchos in this region) that we ended up at three. The first one offered Pincho de foie con salsa de pina which we tried because it is a local specialty. Sue hated it and Dave, of course, loves everything! We also had a pincho with many different mushrooms in garlic that was great. We met a couple of American pilgrims who thought we had met several times but none of us could remember where. Since then, we have run into them several times -- part of the Camino family.

Next stop was the best one of all. We ran into Becky, from Minnesota and married to a Spaniard with three grown boys. Max, her middle son, was with her. We had met them at a pilgrim dinner in Espinal and had a really fun night with them. Max's friend had joined them and he was a local so he helped us order a chorizo pincho and a bull skewer. Both were great and Becky joined us and relayed her amazing story of a farm girl from Minnesota meeting a Spanish guy in Heidelberg and building an engineering firm from two employees to 1200 and in four countries! Very impressive family and great people. And, our four Camino friends from Toronto were also there!

We had set out in the evening seeking out Bar Gaucho because someone had recommended it. When we met Max's friend he told us where it was but said that the bar we were in was better (we agree). However, we did not have a 10:00 curfew because we were in a private albergue so we found Bar Gaucho (somewhat by accident) and had a couple more tapas before heading back to Carmen St and our albergue. Gaucho was dominated by locals, but Max's friend was correct, their place was better.

We have fallen in love with Pamplona! It rivals other great European cities only smaller. What a great day!

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