Where We Be
Pamplona, Spain
The most fun we had in Pamplona was walking
the “Encierro” or Running of the Bulls route,
from the pens where the bulls are released to
the Plaza de Toros where they c
harge into the
stadium.
Now of course nothing can compare
to actually being here during the Festival of
San Fermin (July 6-14 each year), but this is still
a fun city to explore any time of year. For one
thing, the food and the red wine are terrific in
the Navarre region where Pamplona is located.
I'm still raving about the foie gras a la Basque
and smoked eel tapas I had at Bar Gaucho!

For us Pamplona was also special because we
knew we'd be back here on foot in less than a
week as part of our 500-mile trek along the
Camino de Santiago. Pamplona is the first big
city you come to if you start your hike from the
Pyrenees like many people do -- so this was
something of a preview for us. We liked seeing
Pamplona Cathedral and checking out some of
Hemingway's old hangouts on Plaza de Castillo
this time around so we could just relax and
soak up the atmosphere next time through.
The first thing we saw in Pamplona was this terrific statue called
"Monumento al Encierro" celebrating the Running of the Bulls
As close as we hope to ever get!
Definitely wouldn't want to be this guy
Hemingway used to hang out here at Cafe Iruña and Hotel La Perla on Plaza de Castillo
This is Calle San Nicolas at three different times of day.
The view is from our balcony at Hotel Castillo de Javier.
Plaza San Nicolas and its church are just steps away
from Calle San Nicolas -- Pamplona's "party street"
Ready, set, go! We found our way to the starting point
where the bulls are released and retraced their entire route.
Looking back at the corral where the bulls are released at 8 am
each festival day.
This is the first street they come charging up.
The bulls cross City Hall Square -- the same square where
fireworks mark the beginning of the festival each July 6th
At Mercaderes Street is a 90 degree turn where bulls crash
into the fences as they try to make the turn at high speeds
Placards posted along the route celebrate festivals past
The Estafeta is the longest and straightest stretch of the run. The bulls
go more slowly here, so runners race the bulls as they near the bullring.
The citadel is star-shaped so you could fire on attackers trying to
scale adjacent walls. However, its defenses soon became obsolete.
Pamplona Citadel -- now a park -- is considered “the best example of Renaissance military
architecture in Spain and one of the most outstanding defensive complexes in Europe”
It's also the resting place of Navarre's King Charles III "The Noble."
Pamplona Cathedral was completed during his reign (1361-1425)
.
The cathedral has some lovely elements, including a spiral staircase and a 13th century cloister
We especially liked this sculpture over the cloister doorway
showing the "Dormition of the Virgin" as she is taken up to heaven
Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year of
Mercy for 2016 -- just in time for our Camino!
I didn't even know I liked foie gras
until I tried this
tapa at Bar Gaucho
Running of the Bulls
Pamplona Cathedral
City of Pamplona
Moments before the start, runners sing to
San Fermin three times asking his blessing
El Toro Loco looks a little annoyed
Hope this photographer had a good zoom
lens or else this was his final photo!
This little medieval statue
is wonderfully primitive
The cloister looks especially
beautiful in the slanting light
Seeing our first yellow arrow in Pamplona really
brought home that our Camino was about to begin