I thought I’d pass some time in the train by documenting my journey to Spain thus far.
The original plan was to drive directly into Spain by train, on Wednesday. Instead, the train stopped in France, so I had to walk across the bridge to Spain.
If it looks like I was in the middle of no where, it’s because I was. It seems Spain and France both agreed that they would only border each other with their suckiest villages, so that neither side would get jealous and move to the other.
The funny thing is there was no sign to even say I was switching from France to Spain. For all they go on about the World’s Longest Undefended Border, I’m always amazed at how integrated Europe is and really how far apart Canada and the US are.
Anyway, the next day, yesterday, was time to start the Spain trip properly. First stop: Pamplona.
Just kidding. The first stop was a one hour stopover in some abandoned village called Araya. Literally, the only people I saw in the village were various electricians, who seemed to be working on wires here and there. Other than that, it was a ghost town, with not a single other human being, especially not one selling food.
So that sucked but the next train eventually came and then it was on to Pamplona for real!
The whole train ride was the best scenery I’ve seen on the trip so far. There is a lot of countryside and there are many huge hills. When you get into Pamplona, the surrounding countryside is still quite nice but the area around the train station is not.
Once you get into the old town, however, it does not disappoint. This is the home of the running of the bulls and also a stop on that wacky pilgrimage.
Although yesterday was the worst weather I’ve experienced thus far, there were dry-ish periods and the wetness somehow made the streets more interesting to look at.
After checking into my hostel, the first order of business was to get food. The hostel guy suggested two places, one which was closed and one which was a dumpy looking bar. Great. In fact, I couldn’t find anywhere to eat that looked good. I asked my friend, Javier, who lived in Spain for several years, and he told me Pamplona is a bit like that, where people go from bar to bar, getting tapas.
In the end, I couldn’t wait to eat any longer and accepted the security of a restaurant in a department store. Classy. Well, it was actually okay. It was potatoes with fried eggs, fried onions, and some strange meat all on top. It was good. I also got garlic bread with some Italian cheese.
Pamplona also has a lot of fortifications. I checked out the central one at night and, of course, found a Geocache. I really love the idea that people are doing this all over the world. It feels uniting. It’s one of those things that gives me faith in humanity.
Anyway, that brings me to today. On the way out of town, I stopped by a bakery to try a pastry called “garroticos”; Javier told me I couldn’t possibly leave Pamplona without trying them at this specific bakery. Imagine little bits of pastry, like a croissant, wrapped around chocolate. They are maybe just a bit bigger than bite-sized. They were tasty, so it was a good recommendation.
I’ve booked two nights in Madrid and will make my way to Seville on Sunday. After that, it isn’t nailed down but if people think I can get away with swimming in the ocean at Cádiz, I’m going to do it. Then I want to go to Gibraltar, see what that’s all about, and gaze upon Africa. Maybe I don’t have my passport to go but I can at least get close. After Gibraltar, I am thinking Válencia and then fleeing to France. Don’t forget the key to pronouncing things in Spanish: talk like you have a huge lithsp all the time!
I was just about to say Spain doesn’t excite me outside of the beaches but then the train drove by some cool castle. As best as I can tell, we drove by some place called Tafalla. Will have to look that one up to see the story there.
And now I will endure the rest of the train trip with this upset fat woman beside me, who oozes into my seat and keeps babbling and crying into her phone. The joys of train travel!