Calle De La Curia, September 2015. In late 2015 I’d just finished teaching an English summer camp in Castro Urdiales, a small coastal town outside Bilbao. Excited to be heading off on a two-week wander across northern Spain, I’d been particularly fascinated by the prospect of Pamplona because of its Hemingway connections and notoriety for the running of the bulls. One of Spain’s architectural highlights, the city was quick to reel me in with its spectacular old quarter, a maze of narrow streets stuffed with Romanesque, baroque and gothic era buildings. This photo summed up Pamplona’s vibe perfectly. It was mid-afternoon and I had the street to myself, all but one of the shops closed for siesta.
Ayuntamiento de Pamplona (Pamplona Town Hall), September 2015. Located in Plaza Consistorial in the heart of the old quarter, this gorgeous, baroque-neoclassical building plays an important role in the annual San Fermín festival, best known for the controversial running of the bulls. Each year, on July the sixth at around noon, a rocket is fired from the building to signal the start of the party!
Beatriz Bakery, September 2015. This amazing little bakery can be found on Calle Estafeta, where the line often snakes out into the street and the enticing smell of chocolate and flour will almost certainly stop you in your tracks. Some people are so impressed by their cakes, cookies and hojaldres (buttery pastries), they boldly claim Beatriz to be one of the best bakeries in Spain!!! While I’m clearly no expert in Spanish baking, the divine slab of nutty dark chocolate I came away with suggested such assertions may not be far off the mark.
Ernest Hemingway Sculpture, Pamplona Bullring, September 2015. The words Hemingway and Pamplona go hand in hand. The Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist came here no less than nine times over thirty-five years, always for San Fermín, invariably to watch the bulls and to drink, fight and sing. As the setting of his debut novel The Sun Also Rises, Pamplona held a special place in Hemingway’s heart right up until the day he put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. This sculpture, found right outside the city bullring, is one of numerous tributes to be found throughout the centre. A bronze head of shaggy hair, a fearsome glare and fulsome beard, it stands as a powerful tribute to a legendary man.
Café Iruña, September 2015. The ultimate Hemingway experience lies in this famous café, which dominates the southeast side of Plaza del Castillo. Said to be his favourite Pamplona hangout, most visitors wind up taking a seat out front for sunshine-bathed people-watching views across the square. But don’t forget to head inside and check out the stunning interior, with its hanging lights, intricate wooden windows and giant mirrors. Make your way al the way to the back and you’ll find an arched doorway leading through to a small, discreet bar. Known as Hemingway Corner, there are framed photographs of the man and a life-size bust propping up the end of the bar. But as gorgeous and historical as Café Iruña clearly is, visitors often complain about the lousy service, while the traditional Spanish food on offer receives mixed reviews. Not that I had anything to complain about, my coffee and cake went down a treat!