Stranded In The Southland

Friday, June 10, 2005


Well, it should be no secret that I'm a Hemingway geek. The guy was a complete "bastard redoubled in spades," as he wrote about one of his characters, but he sure could write. One of my motivations for coming to Spain was to get a feel for a country that good ol' EH seemed so fond of. That meant, as far as I could tell, getting to Pamplona by hook or by crook.

As it turned out, we just had to take a fairly pleasant train ride, then waddle around the streets of Pamplona with our (too heavy) gear, looking for a place to stay. It wasn't as bad as it could've been, although I mistakenly took us on a fairly long bus trip getting from the train station to the central city.

I had some trepidation that there wasn't much there there to Pamplona, and that the only attraction would be Hemingway. This was reinforced by the life-size Hemingway mannequin sitting in the tourist office.

Fortunately, it turned out to not be the case. While I don't know that there is a whole lot to see for the tourist (I managed to put off seeing one more cathedral), it's a very pleasant place, and the food is pretty darn solid.

This was a first venture into the edges of Basque territory, and we really got a chance to chow down on Basque tapas, called pintxos. Yow, I'm happy now. It was all good stuff.

I wandered down the route taken for the running of the bulls, and checked out the Hemingway bust at the Plaza de Toros. It was kind of sad, actually. The bust was not very artfully done (no, it wasn't too radical, it was just kinda lame), and the inscription is obscured by dirt and gunk. For the guy who put the town on the map, I'd've thought they could do a bit better.

I wandered around a bit more to find the central square and get a feel for what the characters in The Sun Also Rises would've been dealing with. All in all, it's a beautiful town, and now I have a much better picture in my mind's eye of how everything fell out in TSAR.

Now, I'm just happy I wasn't there for the actual fiesta. I like my wine and beer, but a week of drinking night and day with 100,000 of my new best friends just sends shivers up my spine. I was much happier being there in the peace and quiet.