Along with Kunal’s parents, Kunal and I traveled to Spain last November during the American Turkey Gobble Gobble holiday known as Thanksgiving. I hated excusing myself on the tradition of gluttony and missing the action of indulging the delicious southern MSG Thanksgiving meal which included all the classic fixin’s that come from store bought cans. I’m not hating on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition and I happen to enjoy the after effects of a long enjoyable cardiac arrest while hearing family members interrogate my life with thousands of questions.
Spain was an exception to Thanksgiving and we had the chance to stalk out the beloved and dead Ernest Hemingway and where he use to spend his time observing and watching the locals in a small historic city. No we didn’t find his decaying corpse but I learned a little history of where and how he gained inspiration to write The Sun Also Rises in Pamplona. Pamplona is famous worldwide for the running of the bulls during the San Fermín festival and this is where Hemingway’s book, The Sun Also Rises is based.
The city sits north of Spain right below the French border. It’s nostalgic to know that I walked the same streets including La Estafeta, drank in the same bars and cafés, and enjoyed the local foods as Hemingway did. Though, I did not witness the actual running of the bulls, because the festival takes place in July, I did imagine myself running in the stampede of people and feeling my heart race as I barely escape being bored by one of the bulls. The San Fermín festival seems to be kind of gruesome for me and by no means am I saying they shouldn’t continue this tradition either. I just don’t think I can stomach watching the bulls, all six of them, running down narrow streets to meet their death by a bullfight. However, there are fireworks at the end, so maybe I would enjoy it after all since I do like sparkly explosives lighting up the sky.
In Plaza del Castillo we found lunch at Café Iruña, one of Hemingway’s favorites places in the city. The café is internationally famous because of Hemingway. This was the place where he watched the world go by and they dedicated an area to him as a permanent tribute with a natural sized bronze sculpture of him leaning on the bar.
Wednesday evening we saw many people who closed up their shops and walked down and congregated the cobbled stoned street to the Cathedral of Royal Saint Mary. At the time I had no clue what everyone was gathering for, but realizing afterwards it was in honour of the city’s patron saint, Saint Saturnine, who baptised Pamplona’s first Christians, including its first Bishop, San Fermin.
The next night we were dragged by our heels to the Museum of Navarre because Kunal insisted that his parents and I needed to be educated on the first-century Roman mosaic of the Triumph of Bacchus, the Romanesque capitals of the ancient cathedral of Pamplona, the Mozarabic chest from the Monastery of Leire, and the portrait of the Marquis of San Adrián painted by Goya. I’ll admit at first I thought it was going to be terribly boring but in the end I walked away learning a little more than I did walking in.
Pamplona is a beautiful city in Spain and I highly recommend anyone to visit. It’s very pleasant during the off season, but I’ sure it’s a delight watching the bulls chase people and rip through the cobbled streets down to the red massacre to eventually be placed as an entree for the night’s dinner at one of the local restaurants. Yummy!