Though we had two alarms set to wake us up so we could walk to the train station, Aria unknowingly shut both of them off subconsciously. I somehow woke up on my own and frantically woke her up to ask what time it was. Realizing it was 20 minutes after the time we set to depart the apartment, we jumped out of bed, threw our belongings into our bags, left our pajamas on, and raced to find directions to the bus station. The streets in Barcelona are quite hard to navigate, not even considering their lack of street-signs. Finding the bus station was a lost cause and we hailed a cab as soon as we were able.
Luckily, we made it to the train station with only minutes to spare. We found our seats in coach 2 and had to kick our backpacks into place under our cramped seats. As we traversed the countryside on our way to Pamplona, we pointed out cute Spanish villages to one another. Small clusters of white buildings, known as pueblos, with red terra-cotta roofs were scattered along the the rail line and the surrounding foothills. Fields and farmlands formed quilted patterns that delicately draped over the landscape.
Aria’s friend Paula, who studied at Sandpoint high school for a year, picked us up from the Pamplona train station. Paula greeted us with her cute pixie haircut, big brown eyes and a bright smile. She helped us with our bags and took us to her family’s home in a small town on the outskirts of Pamplona. We passed her beautiful university campus on the way, and she told us she was studying medicine just like her mom had done. When we arrived at her home, her parents and younger brother welcomed us with open arms and a kiss on each cheek.
They had a feast prepared for us, and they waited for us to arrive before they began dining. We relaxed under their covered outdoor patio as we learned about this typical Spanish meal. They had prepared a salad which consisted of small hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped in half, and covered with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. For the second coarse, we tried cold gazpacho soup, mixed with hard boiled eggs and minced ham, for the first time. Lastly, we were told to “get messy” with a rack of delicious, rosemary-coated pork ribs.
For dessert, though I can’t remember what they titled it, we ate a pudding-like substance made from Sheep milk. It was similar to yogurt, but more mild in flavor, so I enjoyed it more than yogurt. We drizzled lots of rich Rosemary honey over the top of this delicacy. Their family each finished their meal with a small cup of coffee enlaced with whole milk and brown sugar crystals. We went without coffee so that we could catch up on sleep from the night before.
Paula and her friend woke us when it was time to go into Pamplona for pinchas (the basque name for tapas). There was absolutely no parking downtown, so we had to revert to using Paula’s handicapped sticker from her grandma’s car. Though we all felt guilty, there was no other way. Both girls spoke English very well and it was nice to hear our native tongue spoken with Spanish accents. I wish we were taught another language even half as in depth as most European countries are taught English.
They took us to their favorite bar where we sipped on red wine and shared fried potatoes with aleoli sauce. The kitchen crew made our order wrong, so they brought us two heaping plates of fried potatoes. Though we were all extremely overloaded with carbs, they really wanted us to try Spanish tortillas (a Spanish omelette kind of like the quiche you get in the states, but they included potatoes inside). I love knowing people that live in foreign places because they know of all the best local cuisine and activities. The most popular bar, they told us, was a paved street-square where hundreds of people sat on the ground to enjoy 1-euro beers.