When traveling in Pamplona, it is advised to:
A) Bring a map;
B) Be more well-dressed when you stumble into a celebrity wedding;
C) Come with an empty stomach as to be able to eat more delicious tapas and sweets;
D) All of the above.
The answer, of course, the answer is “D”. Pamplona showed me a wealth of opportunities while we were there, and I left happily tired and glad I got to see such a different side of Spain than I had seen before.
Julia and I started out on a bus from San Sebastian early in the morning, and Pamplona still felt a bit sleepy. We started off wandering around the town to get acquainted with the city a bit more. The first thing I noticed was the pure lushness of it. I had just spent four months among the whitewashed walls of Andalucía, and to see rows and rows of colorful buildings and lush flowers hanging off of balconies was a bit of a shock. Spain is so diverse and keeps surprising me.
We stopped for churros and chocolate in the Plaza del Castillo, and then set off to wander again. Soon we noticed a large crowd hanging around a cathedral and stopped to ask what was going on. It was the wedding of the Atletico Madrid player Raul Garcia! He and his bride looked beautiful and happy. We were even able to sneak a few pictures of the rest of the team.
The rest of the day was a bit of a culinary adventure. We sampled a few tapas around the Plaza. It seems that the dishes in the north vary widely from what is usually served in Andalucía, and it was interesting to try different varieties. We also helped ourselves to a few of the famous Pamplona caramels, which were delicious (of course).
After getting home, I did a bit more research on Pamplona. The city is principally known for two things: its San Fermin festival (known in the English-speaking world as Running of the Bulls) and for its long-standing love affair with the literary icon Ernest Hemingway. It was the setting for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, which describes the city’s bohemian culture in the 1920s. Nearly one hundred years later, as we wandered its vibrant yet quaint streets, I couldn’t help but wonder how much had changed in Hemingway’s beloved city. Even if it has changed, it seemed to me that its vibrant energy lives on.