Camino Diary Entry #3

#3: Feeding Frenzy of Pamplona ( May 2012)

We walked the route of the famous Pamplona ‘running of the bulls’ and felt very relieved that we were a few weeks too early to be part of it. Meeting up with ‘Mama’ -Mercedes – at the nearby tapas bar where the family had kindly invited us to a light lunch, we drank wine, sampled a selection of delicious morsels and chatted via Xyuxa translating along with much hand waving.
By mid afternoon we were thinking it was over when Mercedes invited us to lunch with her! As the others left for their appointments the three of us headed across the plaza to Casino Restaurant. Hoping to bridge the language barrier we were clutching our Spanish phrase book and Mercedes was very excited to be about to put the new translation app on her phone to the test.
Settled in beneath the canopy overlooking the plaza it was wine all round again and time to order. Gwyneth chose the tempting tuna starter followed by squid. I ran with prawn risotto and a local dish which was something to do with ‘secretion ‘ according to a demonstration from Mercedes running her fingers along her neck glands. The first course was satisfying to say the least and the question was where to fit the next course!
By now we had already seriously over eaten and so Gwyneth’s face was a real study when her plate arrived! Whole squid bodies (minus tentacles) swimming in black inky sauce and a mound of rice!
I concluded that my choice was something to do with pork, which was delicious but there was no way I could deal with the fries and salad too! We did our best! I tried not to catch Gwyneth’s eye in case the mirth bubbling below the surface let loose, but sensed her relief when I surrendered my knife and fork to the still nearly full plate! I knew she was still hiding most of hers under the rice!
As outdoor temperatures continued to rise Mercedes asked the waitress to cool things down. Within moments, just like a vegetable display at the supermarket, we were being covered in a fine mist of water every couple of minutes. While the air cooled by 5 degrees in 5 minutes and it was very refreshing, you can just imagine the potential it had for rapidly converting lovingly straightened hair into the worst possible bad hair day!
Dessert arriving soon after was by now pure gluttony, but Mercedes kept assuring us we needed to eat up in anticipation of our mountain climb on Friday!
As 6 pm approached, we had just finished when Xyxua returned from her exam. With great excitement she announced the family was insisting we join them that night for family dinner, to be held at 8.30pm in light of our early departure next morning!!
We waddled back to our room for a very quick kip and tried to reduce size of post- flight fankles before Xyxua arrived. We had a great little tour of the city old and new and then out to the family apartment. Hunger was still not an issue by the time we arrived to find Mercedes just peeling the potatoes as she had been locked out of the apartment somehow and had to wait for Juanho to get home!
We did have a great night! They seemed to enjoy the couple of bottles of NZ pinot noir we had contributed despite the fact they were screw caps and in the midst of a lesson on ‘how to tell the quality of a wine before you open it’ we learned that screw caps just don’t cut it in Spain!
So much for our intentions of being home early, at 11.30pm we declined the gin and tonics being offered and opted to call it quits! Bed was looking pretty good by now and frankly we knew we wouldn’t need to eat again on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees.

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