Receso a Pamplona

Pamplona is a small town, but there are lots of cute streets for aimless wandering. That’s exactly how we learned our way around town and how we found the best places to have a snack.  Here are two of our favorites!

Pastas Beatriz: the best sweets in Pamplona!  When we arrived, there was a line of locals out the door, ordering sweets by the kilo.  They were all especially fond of garrotes de chocolate and de crema – flaky pastries wrapped around dark, rich chocolate or sweet, smooth cream.  They were shoveled off of the baking tray into our box, still warm and melting in our mouths.  I can remember the taste now, and also the bellyache afterwards (dulce, dulce)…but if you’re in town, you should absolutely make a stop at Beatriz.

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Café Iruña: Impossible to miss in Plaza del Castillo, we both agreed that this was among the most beautiful of cafés we had ever seen.  Decorated intricately, with embossed wallpaper and sculpted wooden ceilings, we imagined it looking much the same when it opened in 1888 as well as in the early 1920s, when Ernest Hemingway was a frequent patron there.  In fact, much of “The Sun Also Rises” was written here!  The coffee was lovely, and their pintxos were cheap and abundant, but the best thing was to just sit and read, sit and write, and sit and observe.  It was our first stop in Pamplona, as well as our last before returning to France.  Dreaming of going back there now…

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Click above for a panorama!

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Pamplona

After an extremely satisfying jaunt into the Spanish Pyrénées, we felt an impulse to continue on to Pamplona, to get a taste of Basque country.  It reminded me so much of what I loved about Seville, Córdoba, Granada, and Cádiz, when I visited with my parents two years ago.  Relaxed, friendly, warmer than France, and delicious!  We strolled the pedestrian streets, rounding corners and stumbling upon many interesting sights: an antique market, a wedding procession, and a bunch of wonderful pintxos – the Basque version of tapas.  We spent each of our four nights in Pamplona, walking up and down Calle Estafeta, stopping in pintxo bars, ordering a couple of tiny plates from the counter, a teeny glass of beer (or a beautiful glass of Spanish Tempranillo..mmm), then walking a bit further down the street, choosing another pintxo bar, et cetera, et cetera!  It was an activity that all of Pamplona was happy to participate in.  The streets were crowded with people and Pamplonés of all ages were out chatting and drinking and enjoying the cool autumn air.  I think we were both a bit sad to leave.  Guess we’ll just have to make a trip back!

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