The “Real” Way:

We woke up to the smell of sweet bread and olive oil frying in a pan. It was not french toast, but was delicious all the same. We drizzled home-made apricot jam and Nutella over the top. We chased the crumbs with cafe con leche, a beverage consumed by the Spanish after almost every meal. Since every Spanish meal included a variety of bread, we presumed coffee was to help get things going, if you know what I’m saying. Bread just really backs-up the system.

Paola’s dad came back from his morning run and told us he saw lots of pilgrims along his way. The main Camino route runs straight through Pamplona. 85% of pilgrims stick to this well-trodden path for their 500-mile journey. We laced up our hiking boots and decided to check out the trail. Our decision to not follow the main route was based around daily ocean views, cooler northern temperatures, and our love of seafood and costal villages.

We set out hiking over the rolling wheat fields around noon, the hottest time of the day. A young man stopped us along the way to ask if we were actually doing the Camino. His ears were filled with blue paint from a paint party Paula told us about the day before. When we told him yes, but a different route, he seemed very confused as we went along his way. We then saw an older man, probably hearin his late 60s, practically crawling along the dirt path. He was sweating bullets, limping on his walking-poles and gasping for air. Paula said her mother, a nurse, sees at least one person admitted to the hospital daily for heat exhaustion or heart attacks caused on the Camino.

Paula’s father was very interested in knowing what types of Spanish cuisine we had tried since our arrival. We listed everything, including our scary experience with Paella. In response, he took it upon himself to eliminate all Paella-doubt from our minds. He served us a platter of the yellow Spanish rice mixed with white fish, calamari, and peeled shrimp. He must have heard us talking about how shrimp with eyes freaked us out. The meal was absolutely amazing and Paella was forever redeemed in our minds. I would eat it over and over again.

It was a hot day, so we took a siesta at the neighborhood pool. The water was extremely cold, causing shrieks of terror as people plunged. Lying on the hot slate was a nice contrast to the intense polar waters. Little children were running around yelling at each other in Spanish. A woman came out on her deck and scolded them for waking her up from her siesta. They settled down and played quietly around the pool. One boy tried to hop the pool fence and caught himself on the top bar. “Mi huevos, mi huevos,” he screeched as we laughed at his analogy.

For dinner, we had Paula’s all-time favorite meal. Jamon, chorizo, bread, and a variety of stinky, yet delicious cheeses decorated the table. We drizzled olive oil over toast and then laden our plates with meats and cheeses. For dessert we dunked fresh cherries in a bowl of water in order to cleanse them. I swear, cherries are eaten after every meal in Spain.

Pamplona was a nice change of pace from the busy city lifestyle we observed in Barcelona. After nights of no sleep and days with endless activities, we needed a night of rest. We watched Burlesque, and collectively gawked at Christina Agulera’s beauty and talent. She may just be the most perfect female in the universe. We packed our things in preparation for the day ahead of us, and went to bed with full bellies and fuller hearts.

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