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August 18, 2009

San Sebastian and Pamplona

Filed under: Travel — anotherheader @ 5:54 am

Casa Consistorial, Pamplona

Casa Consistorial, Pamplona

On this day, we’d head to Pamplona, home of the Festival of St. Fermin and the Running of the Bulls.  Pamplona is an hour by car from San Sebastian.  But before we left, we had time for a morning walk.


One of the towers on the Maria Cristina Bridge, San Sebastian

One of the towers on the Maria Cristina Bridge, San Sebastian

We crossed the Urumea River on the Maria Cristina Bridge.  The bridge has large white ornamental towers that look like they were taken from a gigantic wedding cake.  Further on, Cathedrale El Buen Pastor was glowing in the sun as we strolled by.  Sitting outside in the mild seaside air, we had pastries and café con leche again at Oyarzun Gozotegia.  Satisfied and relaxed, we went back to the room.

Before long we were on the road to Pamplona with Becky at the wheel and Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” playing on the car stereo.  Our route took us through the rocky and hilly countryside, past the modern suburban sprawl on the outskirts of Pamplona to the old town.  Pamplona has grown substantially from Hemingway’s time and now holds over 300,000 people in its greater metropolitan area.  It seemed to me that running with the bulls might be safer than the 80 odd kilometer drive from San Sebastian to Pamplona with Becky at the wheel, but we arrived safe with a modicum of sanity remaining.

“Did she do it?  Did Becky run with the Bulls?”  You must all on the edge of your seats wondering.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Unfortunately our visit to Pamplona did not coincide with the Festival of San Fermin.  There was no chance for Becky to test her sometimes-overabundant machismo with the bulls this time.  Instead we walked the full path that the bulls take after they are released from the corral, pass through the narrow streets and by the statues of Hemingway, and into the bullring.  It didn’t look like there would be many hiding spots along way when the bulls were running.  It must be chaos.

It’s not like our “Walking of the Bull’s Route” was without risk.  Where the route crosses road, there was plenty of auto traffic.  And the route was crowded with milling tourists to boot.  But Becky was not satisfied with these “minor” thrills.  She wanted something more exciting.  Looking around, she found that a lesser-known festival was about to begin, “The Running of the Tour Buses.”  She laced up her running shoes and joined in.  You can see in the picture that she played it close.  I don’t know how, but somehow she survived.

Cathedrale El Buen Pastor, San Sebastian

Cathedrale El Buen Pastor, San Sebastian

We recovered afterwards with a rather bad lunch at Café Iruna (Iruna is Basque for Pamplona).  Though it still retains its grand style, made famous in “The Sun Also Rises, ” Café Iruna now is a tourist trap.  Unfortunately we fell in.

It was time to head back to San Sebastian.  I was hoping that Becky’s participation in “The Running of the Tour Buses” sated her desire for adventure and she would not participate in another seemingly related festival, “The Running of the Red Lights.”  Becky seems to think that this festival, “The Running of the Red Lights,” is ongoing at all times everywhere.  I’ve found that I “enjoy” this “festival” best if I just shut up, close my eyes, and hang on.

Becky participating in the lesser known Running of the Tour Buses

Becky participating in the lesser known Running of the Tour Buses

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/AnotherHeader/SanSebastianAndPamplona#

Inside Cafe Iruna in Pamplona

Inside Cafe Iruna in Pamplona

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