|Pamplona statue of the Encierro (Bull Run)
We rented a country house near La Quar Spain, but we could not arrive until August 17th. So Justin scoured the web to locate a place to stay for 5 days. He found a place in Pamplona. So off we went. I think sometimes when you have zero expectations, you end up being delighted at every turn. We arrived late in the evening and had a pretty tough time getting a hold of Eva, the apartment owner. She was in the apartment and we were outside with no cell service and no way to get into the locked building. Eventually, the kid in the nearby bike store understood Justin enough to let her use their cell phone and call Eva. The following day we ventured into the city center. Our apartment was located at about a 20 minute walk from the city center. We ended up landing at the pen where they keep the bulls for the famous running of the bulls. We decided to follow the path of the Bull Run with our own wild bunch. The old city is charming. The architecture is absolutely beautiful and intricate with carved stone facades and wrought iron banisters. I absolutely loved it. Along our path following the Encierro the kids decided that they were hungry. Eva had told us that pinchos (tapas) were the specialty in Pamplona. Justin found a restaurant that had the pinchos laid out that we could see, so we thought it would be easier to choose. We selected several that looked great and they we so delicious. We all owwed and ahhed at the yumminess we were consuming. I had chosen one that I was not sure what it was and once biting into it discovered it was calamari. Now if you know me well, you know that I hate calamari. But what I bit into was so delicious I had to take another bit to realize what I was eating. Every calamari I had ever eaten before was chewy and well, gross. This was soft and fresh tasting. It was paired with a salsa verde and these tentacle things that I don’t know what it was, but so good! Sometimes it is great to try something new and not know exactly what it is because you really try it for the taste and not with any preconceived ideas of how you think it will taste. That I can say the kids have done from the get go and so far they have pretty much liked all of it. Once we finished our meal we continued to the stadium at the end of the Encierro. We finished our tour and headed back to try to get Eden down for a nap. While she napped Justin and I went to load up on groceries. We planned a few meals and stocked up on drinks including a 1.19 euro Spanish wine! That turns out to be $1.31. We were again not certain, but thought we would give it a try and it was delicious. (A six pack of beer was 1.50 euros, we got that too) Something that we have discovered along the way, buy bottles of water and drinks at the grocery store and take them with you. You can get 6/1.5 liters of water for less than a small bottle of water from a vendor or shop in the city.
|In the Bull Pen at the beginning of the Encierro
|Walking down a street in Pamplona (without bulls thankfully)
|Danielle on a cool climbing structure in the park
The following day we had wanted to go to San Sebastian to go to the beach but the weather outlook was not great for the next few days so we postponed. We decided to visit the National Park of Urbasa Andia, and take a hike to go to the spring of Urederra. Caleb and I had found it online and the pictures looked amazing. We drove the 45 minutes outside of Pamplona, had a picnic and set off on our hike. The walk was lovely, surrounded by lush vegetation. Once we got to the spring the pictures we had seen online could not hold a candle to what we were actually looking at. The water was so blue in the pool and absolutely crystal clear. If we could have swam in it we would have all jumped in right there and then, but unfortunately for us this is the drinking water for the towns below and swimming is not allowed. The placed had a very magical feel, kind of like where you might imagine a pretty great fairy tale may take place at. We kept on walking along the stream and it just got better and better. There were more pools and waterfalls, the vegetation and boulders were stunning. We were so glad that the weather had us change our plans and we found this amazing place.
|Spring of Urederra
|Waterfall into pool on Urederra
|Traffic on the way to France
The following day we went back into the city center to have lunch at that yummy restaurant again, Bodegon Sarria. We tried some different pinchos and let me tell you we were not disappointed. Also, quick side note, the meal was extremely affordable, less then what we usually pay for a quick sandwich. We decided to head up into the base of the Pyrenees to a town called Eugi. This again is only about a 45 minute drive outside of Pamplona. Eugi is a tiny little village that has damned up a portion of the valley to create a lake. Gorgeous!! The vegetation is lush, the lake is crystal clear, and the village in quaint. We also learned that Eugi is the town where royal armour was made because they had the best craftsmen. We walked along the lake for a little while and then head back to the car to drive further up the mountain. Well, we ended up in Aldudes, France. Along the road we ran into a small herd of cows in the middle of the road. Now, let me say the herd itself was small, about 10 cows, but the cows themselves were huge. The best part was, when Justin tried to get by, one cow did not want to move and Justin honked at it, you know like beep, beep, not laying down on the horn. Well the cow turned her head looked at him like yeah, make me. We all burst out laughing and eventually got around the cows. Once in Aldudes we noticed a shop and stopped to stretch our legs. This place was unique in that they made everything they sold and it was all kinds of different pates, stews and pork products. What we also found out was that on the side of the building they had all the momma pigs with her piglets. We followed the path to each pen and learned a little something about the pigs. 2 things we all were surprised by, 1) Pigs can carry her first litter by 12 months of age, males can sire by 8 months and 2) they can have 8 to 10 piglets each pregnancy and have 2 pregnancies a year. Now when I read this my uterus hurt, ouch, apparently they recover quickly. They also send the piglets out to pasture when they were 6-8 weeks with 30 to 40 other piglets. By the way, they neuter all of them and only have a few mothers and sires in order to control the population. Well the piglets were adorable. There were some that were about a week old and the runt was only half the size of the others, he probably only weighed about a pound in a half. Caleb wanted to bring him home. Another thing I did not know, piglets are pretty fuzzy when they are new, totally cute. On our drive back we stopped at an excavation site where they were preserving ruins from and old munitions factory from 1766 that King Charles III had built and later destroyed when France declared war on Spain. There are moss covered walls and trees growing in building and again the place is magical. I could have spent hours walking amongst the ruins, taking photographs, but it had started to rain and I did not have the best footwear for walking in the wilderness. The ruins were located along the river with one side where they worked and the other where they lived. During its heyday there were 200 families living there. Again, another cool adventure that was not fully planned or expected.
|3 little piggies in Aldudes France
|Lake at Eugi
|Walking near Eugi
|Remnants of munitions factory in Eugi
|Remnants of munitions factory in Eugi
Sunday we headed to San Sebastian to go to the beach. We had a great time. We had a picnic lunch, the sand was perfect for building, and the weather was great. The boys built a really cool ball track that had attracted a fairly large amount of people. It started on a pyramid came out a tunnel, around the pyramid, down under sand level, under 3 bridges into a pit. I have to say I was impressed. Justin coaxed me into the ocean for a swim. There was a lot of coaxing that needed to happen because the water was cold or as Justin said only “chilly”. But when he said he always wanted to have a romantic swim in Spain with me, what was I going to say, no, I would have been terrible wife of the year. So in we went and I was right it was cold, not chilly. Eventually, everyone got in, even Eden. She was like me and thought it was cold so she only put her feet in but a rogue wave got her and she got totally wet. After the beach we walked over to the “new” cathedral, Buen Pastor. It is considered new because it was built in only 1897. We then got some fantastic ice cream and headed back to Pamplona.
|Beach at San Sebastian Spain
|Joel and Caleb's sand ball track
|San Sebastian with Buen Pastor cathedral in background
We had a wonderful time. Pamplona itself was pretty and we discovered 3 amazing places within an hour drive that were all unique in their own way. It is great to go into something without any expectations.
Side note: Much to my delight, since we have been on our adventure Danielle has taken to holding my hand whenever we walk around. It can happen in the city, in stores grocery shopping, hiking, etc. I am enjoying it immensely.