Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pamplona: Lots of running, no bulls

Pamplona is in NE Spain close to Basque country. A 1,200-year-old pilgrimage route passes through the city and goes to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of the country. 
The city of 200,000 sits on a plateau, surrounded by hills. 
PAMPLONA, Spain -- After one week we love this place. It has lots of parks, bike paths, cafes and restaurants all within a short walk of our apartment.

On our block are a butcher shop, fruit and vegetable shop, a small general store and a bar or two. A big grocery-department store like a Wal-Mart is two or three blocks away. Cindy likes all the shopping opportunities.

The local people are generally friendly and very polite, although local people tell us that they are more reserved than the people in the South.

We have been running around getting various documents at various government agencies so we can get paid, get health care, etc. The offices are professional and efficient. Not a lot of waiting.

On one of the main squares in town. 
And, by the way, I taught my first week of classes. I am teaching digital journalism in Spanish to 94 students. Also teaching Economics for Communicators, in English, to 43 students. They were very attentive. 

The school, the University of Navarra, has a great reputation for its journalism and communications programs. They are well known for their program in media management, which fits my background well. 

I have gotten to know some of their faculty and graduate students over the past few years at conferences and online. I gave a seminar on campus in 2011, thus the invitation to teach here. 
A view from the 16th century fortress in the center of town. The city was the capital of the kingdom of Navarre and was a stronghold against French invaders. Ignatius Loyola was wounded in battle here and during his convalescence decided to dedicate himself to something other than war. He founded the order of Jesuit priests. 
Happier than I look. Squinting at the sun. 
Local guys wear these hats, called boinas, otxapeldun in Basque.
 Our apartment is about a 15-minute walk from my office. The campus is lovely. Lots of trees and green space. A couple of bike paths run through it, and the pilgrimage route that goes to Santiago de Compostela passes right through the campus.

On Saturday, yesterday, we took a short bus ride into town to just walk around. The old city is pedestrian only and filled with shoppers. We have had some fine food. Here tortillas are a specialty -- a kind of potato and egg quiche with sausage or veggies or what have you.

We stopped in a little cafe-bakery that had some kind of lovely pastry, with a crunchy glazed outside and just a dab of creamy custardy filling. I love this place.

Lots of the signs are in Basque (I wrote about it in Basque Language Has Mysterious Origins), a linguistic outlier and one of Spain's four official languages.  There is a fairly large population of Basque speakers here.

The Iruña Cafe in the center of town. Hemingway hung out here. Iruña is the Basque name for Pamplona. 

The day we arrived we learned that the apartment we had rented was not available because the tenants, who were supposed to have moved out, had not. So the landlord gave us another place in the same building, which is bigger, nicer. And at the same price.

We will be leaving at the end of June, a week before the running of the bulls, which is part of the Festival of San Fermin. Not sure I would want to be here anyway.

Our bedroom

Second bedroom

Third bedroom



Living room.

Living room. We moved a desk in to the left and the table to the right. 
We love this place. When are you coming?


  1. Mary Breiner6:18 PM

    Oh my, it looks beautiful! I would love to come!!! Am thinking about it. Will let you know.


  2. Jeff Cabot2:26 PM

    Very nice. The travelling Breiners score again. Have a great stay.