PAMPLONA. “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time”
The Cafe Iruna in Pamplona’s Plaza de Castillo is a perfect example of the city’s extensive array of fascinating bars and restaurants. Within this impressive establishment striking, ornate columns support horizontal wooden beams filled with hanging plants; exotic wrought iron art deco lights, some with as many as ten shades, descend from the ceiling, suspended by thick sections of rope. The floor is like a giant black and white chess board, filled with marble topped tables .Behind a bar gleaming with varnished wood and brass, glass cases filled with enticing pintxos, the Basque form of tapas, tantalise the hungry visitor. Giant mirrors reflect the light from outside and allow diners to admire the surroundings no matter where they are seated – ideal for people watching! A glass of vino blanco is served in a chilled glass : delicious and ice cold. And it isn’t even particularly expensive.
There is, however, no legislating for idiots who, in attempting to show they are comfortable with Spanish/Basque menus, announce to the waitress that they would like what they think is the codfish, but turns out to be squid (“This scenario sounds familiar”, mutters Alasdair). Big, bouncy, chewy squid. After one bite, said idiot was relieved to see the rubbery lump spring off the plate and disappear into a corner, leaving him (damn-I’m giving myself away) with a few potato slices for segundo plato. Luckily the idiot has a generous wife who couldn’t stand looking at his petted lip any longer and gave him half of her correctly ordered, delicious lunch. If you are ever in Pamplona, this place is well worth a visit. Just don’t order the squid.
While exploring last night we had come upon a huge gathering in this same square which, as far as we could make out, was a demonstration of support for Basque independence, an issue which in recent times appears to have been overshadowed by the Catalonia situation.
A rapper was going down a storm with the crowd, but the content of his performance will forever remain a mystery to us. Suffice to say it was unlikely to have been in support of the Spanish government.
We have decided to give Carolyn’s blister a name as she has grown so attached to it. Persephone is currently on the short list, with two more yet to be added. Suggestions are welcome. They will, in all probability, be ignored, unless they are particularly funny, in which case I will include them but, in a typically shallow display of opportunistic larceny, claim all the credit for myself.
Back on the road tomorrow as we head for Puente La Reina, an excellent name, but not as impressive as Zariquiegui (good luck pronouncing that), which we shall have the pleasure of visiting in the course of our Monday travels. Today’s track is “ Fisherman’s Blues” by the Waterboys, simply because it’s a great song. Nothing to do with any fishy lunch debacle……..