We arrived in Pamplona at the city’s central bus terminal, located UNDER their scenic and historic citadel, pretty much the center of town. Which also means you arrive disoriented. It being overcast didn’t help our direction-finding skills.
Pony booked us into the Hostel (it had been my understanding it was “Hotel”) Hemingway. While the American author Ernest Hemingway made the town of Pamplona famous, there isn’t really any other reason the place is so-named. No reason is given for their choice of name on their Website, which DOES mention the place was opened in 2009 and was remodeled in 2013.
It IS close to the center of the city. FINDING it was another matter entirely – Pony was happy with “two traffic circles and turn right.” Already not happy with “hostel,” I wasn’t any happier with location information that didn’t contain a six-digit military grid coordinate.
Despite my deep and abiding concern about being in a strange city with no PERSONAL idea as to where we were going, Pony got us to the neighborhood – and about the time she was getting close to thinking we were lost again (the Spanish aren’t much for street signs and I had already shut-off cellular – it’s called “mobile” in Europe – service, so there was no consulting with Google Maps) (at the moment – THIS problem was fixed the next day), I looked up (and that helps a LOT in Spain) and saw the sign.
It turns-out the Hostel Hemingway is a second-floor walk-up in a classic Spanish building (the kind that probably dates back to the Middle Ages, but they just keep updating the interiors). This means you have to buzzed-in at the front door (a process that never sounds clear – for all the advances in communication electronics, door speaker systems STILL suck) and walk-up a flight of scary stairs that remind you of a scene in a horror movie.
I have read where hostels are not like they were “when your parents and grandparents were traveling in the 60s and 70s.” I have no personal knowledge of whatever THAT might have been like, having never stayed in a hostel. Ever. (It has never been too far removed from military barracks living arrangements, I suppose, but Pony would be in a better position to address that.)
We got a “private room” (Pony thought it would be easier on me to ease me in to all of this hostel stuff by starting with sharing just the bathrooms to start and working my way down). The room was nice enough, I suppose (better than bunk bed dorms that awaited us on the adventure) and the bathrooms were small – and that’s coming from the guy who lived in a travel trailer for four years.
After setting out packs down, we headed out into Pamplona to walk around the “old town” shopping district and find something to eat.
After much wandering around, we wound-up eating at a place a couple of blocks from where we were staying. Unfortunately, we were too late for “peregrino’s menu” (‘pilgrim’s menu,’ typically a budget three-course meal from a fixed menu consisting of a “starter” – usually a salad or pasta dish of some kind – an entree, a dessert, and served with bread, water and wine), which is also referred to as “menu del dia” – most Spanish restaurants don’t serve dinner until 8pm, so this is actually the “mid-day” meal typically offered by larger bars which ARE open throughout the day – along the Santiago de Compostela route, it is pitched principally to peregrinos, many of whom would be preparing for bed about the time a typical restaurant is serving dinner).
Still – their regular menu wasn’t bad – and we found SANGRIA!!!