Day Four: Pamplona to Puenta la Reina aka Running with the Bulls
We got some great sleep last night, thanks to the awesome hotel we stayed in. We decided to explore Pamplona this AM, because it’s Pamplona ! It’s a medium sized city, with a lot to offer. Something I noticed was a lot of cute hip dads with their babies... Machismo-ness (real word) is so last century. We got to eat at Bar Gaucho aka Pinxtos heaven for brunch (most are naturally gluten/dairy free). I believe my future ex-husband, Anthony Bourdain paid a visit there. Nonetheless, it was the most highly recommended place to dine. Each pinxto was roughly €3 each, completely worthwhile. Getting out of the city was a pain, as there was some sort of ‘Old Pamplona’ festival.
Exiting the city and climbing up to Alto de Perdon was not fun (770 m), but neither was hiking down. Have I mentioned I am having mega knee pain? We only came across one water fountain on our 14 mile walk to Puenta La Reina. The moment we walked into the city, we were instantly cajoled by fellow pilgrims into watching the ‘bull run’ festival. Apparently this occurs just once per year, and we were pretty lucky to get to see it? Everyone gathers around the town square to watch locals menace and run away from Bulls. Although, the Bulls aren’t hurt in this process, it’s still hard to watch, as they appear to be foaming at the mouth. Anyway, behind the scenes, families and friends are gathered together making homemade paella and filled the air with laughter and joy.
We ran into Ana and other friends at the festival, then decided to eat at the albergue we were staying in for the night (Albergue Amalur €12 w/breakfast). The food was mas o menos, but the company was great (€9). However, I did have my first run in with a jerk pilgrim. This Canadian was pissed off that the waiter tended to our group before his, due to the fact I could speak Spanish. Another comment was made about me being attractive, thus being the 'real' reason the waiter tended to us first. He said "we were here an hour before you!!!” And then he stormed off with his wife to a different restaurant. It wasn’t my fault that the waiter tended to us first, nor did I realize he was there earlier, but he of course took it out on me. This sort of behavior isn’t common amongst pilgrims, nor Canadians. But, pendejos are everywhere, mis amigos. Also, apparently his wife’s nail fell off during yesterday’s walk (not uncommon). This is the second person I know who this has happened to. My feet seem to be fine. Only two small blisters, but nothing compeed can’t fix. It’s my knee that’s the problem.
Something else that I’ve been asked to add to this is my knowledge of the Spanish language. I met this Texan, named Lane who told me how lucky I am that I speak Spanish. Per other pilgrims, this trek has been really hard due to not speaking the language. I of course, come at a privilege and didn’t realize it. A lot of the towns in between have very few people who only speak Spanish. So here is my forewarning to you. The albergue (owner only speaks Spanish) we stayed at was ran poorly, in my opinion. The owner was too busy working the restaurant to tend to us. So we pretty much waited around for her for a while. I was happy to be let in to our 12 bunk bed filled room, but knew it’d be a rough night due to some folks not showering after the long walk (yep), some already snoring, in addition to knowing there were more to join who’d been heavily drinking. Wish us luck.
P.S. Who said Sept/Oct would not be busy? Most albergues are completely full each night.
P.P.S. Basque people are almost all incredibly good looking and all smell really good.