There is, of course, far more to Pamplona than the annual Running of the Bulls. We started our visit in the grand Plaza del Castillo where, the guidebook assured, we would be able to watch the world go by while having a drink and getting our bearings.
Unfortunately, on the day of our visit a large booksellers’ exhibition was being dismantled. So instead of looking out over the brim of a coffee cup from one side of the square to the other, this is what we saw.
And that was a pity, because all these empty pop-up display stands concealed a beautiful period bandstand.
So after croissants and a couple of fortifying cups of coffee, we walked all the way round the square, admiring the attractive tall, slender, pastel-painted buildings.
After a while of counting floors, I became quite concerned for people living on the upper levels. They all had at least six storeys, and some had seven or eight!
What do you do if you get all the way to the front door, only to realise you’ve left something in the attic?
A road from the Plaza leads straight into the old town – San Fermín.
This is where el encierro, the annual ‘Running of the Bulls’ takes place, and the topic of my recent post.
If it looks like all roads lead to this white tower, there is a sort of poetry to that.
It belongs to the fourteenth century Gothic cathedral, a stopping-off point for pilgrims walking el Camino de Santiago – the Way of St James.
El Camino commences at St Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees and leads to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia – a distance of 791 km (490 miles). Just 74 km from the starting point, Pamplona is the first major city on the route.
But San Fermín is not just a collection of historic streets of interest to tourists and pilgrims. It’s a vibrant community.
This area is also part of the greater Basque Country region, where passions on the issue of Basque separatism run high.
The region, which also includes part of France, has its own language – Euskera – or in English, ‘Basque’. It has no links to any other language and is probably the oldest European language, pre-dating all our Indo-European languages spoken throughout Europe. Fortunately for visitors, Spanish is also spoken here, although as I was reminded over dinner one evening, for political reasons it should be referred to as el castellano – Castilian rather than el español – Spanish.
If other street art is to believed, though, not everyone here fills their heads with politics And so, although this isn’t a position I personally agree with, I’ll end on a lighter note.
No Votes – Baila!
Don’t vote – Dance!
(I’m with the dance part, but not as an alternative to voting. 🙂 )
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