Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pamplona

I arrived successfully by train, despite a threatened railway strike. I had planned on walking to town but I'm glad I broke down and took a taxi. The seven Euros was worth not having to deal with busy traffic and a convoluted route. The driver couldn't take me all the way since some streets were blocked off for a fiesta. There were stands all over selling arts and crafts, homemade food, and religious articles. 

I'm staying at the Hotel Maisonnave, smack in the middle of Old Town and one of the cheapest things I could find on the Internet. Of course, when you get here there are lots of things cheaper that save money by not advertising. But it's a good feeling to know you have a bed somewhere with your name on it.  

I checked in then went looking for the bus station to get my ticket for tomorrow. It is another part of town. I asked directions of a pleasant looking older man. He said he was on his way to the station and would walk with me. Mikel is a Pamplona native and only speaks Spanish and Basque. He is also deaf in one ear but we were able to communicate alright. He is also divorced and has one son, aged 36, just like me.

We got to the bus station, which was underground and doesn't look like a bus station, so I was glad he was with me. He bought his ticket to go visit an artist friend but the woman said there were no buses to St Jean the next day since it was Sunday. It didn't show on the wall schedule either. My new friend saw a bus ready to leave for St Jean and asked the driver. He was busy taking tickets but after a few minutes he took me into the terminal and showed me how to buy a ticket at a machine for his specific company. So I now had a ticket for the next day.

My new friend had a couple of hours before his bus departed so he gave me a walking tour of Pamplona. I saw the old citadel, the bull pens and the route the Bulls take when they are let loose to go through the old city each July for "the running of the Bulls." I also saw my first Camino marker in Taconera Park, a silver shell embedded in the pavement. He showed me his favorite restaurant but lunch was already done. He had to go catch his bus but showed me an easy way to get to the station the next day before he kissed me on both cheeks and took off.

I found a place in old Town that agreed to feed me a meal of chef's salad, grilled salmon, potato, bread, wine and tiramisu for dessert. I went back to my room happy, ready to tackle packing for the next day.


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