Monday, January 27, 2014

Thanks, Pamplona - operation "work off loaves and loaves of white bread" has officially commenced!

The main draws to Pamplona are the aforementioned bull stuff and the ginormous citadel in the middle of the city.  (And the shopping, if you're into that sort of thing.)

the citadel is pretty awesome

The town was pleasant and easy to get around, and made a great stopping point after Barcelona, but we weren't really excited about the hokey Hemingway bars or countless perfumerias so we took a few walks instead.

One day we headed west out of Pamplona along the Camino de Santiago. Of all the things we didn't expect to do on this trip, hiking part of the Camino was definitely high on the list! The sky was a little ominous but the rain held off all day and we enjoyed five hours of trekking through Spanish farmland. (It wasn't prairie, it wasn't mountainous - what's in between those? Hilly?)

how about just "lovely"

We saw a few pilgrims along the way, and a few hikers, and a few mountain bikers.

and some horsies

Otherwise we walked in solitude.  Fitting.

long but not so winding road

far far away land

Alto del Perdón monument

Kudos to everyone who has done the whole thing, whichever route you took.  We enjoyed our short bit a lot.

On our last morning in Pamplona we headed east toward San Cristobal, a former fortress-turned-prison-turned-abandonedmilitarystructure-turned-wherethelocalswalkforexercise just 4km outside of the city. That morning fog covered the valley and we couldn't even see our destination, so we hoped for reasonable weather at best and maybe a cool fortress at the top. We got both and a huge bonus - when we were almost to the top we passed through the fog and found sunny skies and amazing vista points.

hey Sting, we have a new song idea for you

looking east
toward the pea soupy valley

looking west -
we were there two days earlier

Otherwise, when we weren't hiking or taking Clarence on his bull run tour we just meandered a little. We sat around a lot. We read our books. We took gloriously long hot showers.

It was nice. Pamplona was nice.

Food notes:
  • Aside from a pastry here and there we cooked at the hostels. We did try chorizo from the local market... and decided to stick to veggie stir fry meals from there out.
  • But let's not forget the inexpensive Spanish wine.
found this gem for just €1.20 -
worth every €0.01

Lodging notes:
  • Hostel Hemingway mostly for the kitsch factor - it actually had a really cool vibe, great kitchen and good breakfast selection, and the price was right. But the only beds left that night were in the teeny tiny 7-bed dorm, and the next morning Jen woke up early as usual and went to the common area to do some writing only to find it (and the kitchen) locked until 8am. For a place that probably attracts artsy insomniacs, that was pretty annoying. Fine for one night, glad we went elsewhere the next two nights.
  • Aloha Hostel - AWESOME. Hugo, our host, was amazing. He recommended the fortress hike, left breakfast out early for us, and generally treated us like guests in his home. The hostel was spotless, light and airy, and completely empty our first night.

Three days in Pamplona, about 35 kilometers added to our boots. To the mountains for more hiking, please...

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