Thursday, June 06, 2019

Trip-ups Along the Trail

When I decided not to walk on the third day of our trip, I envisioned a morning grading papers followed by a drive to Pamplona and an afternoon of enjoying the city.

This is the first Spanish city I've really felt drawn to. But I couldn't have predicted how complicated things would get.
The hotel where we had reservations was overbooked so they sent us to apartments in the old city. That in itself was fine as our car bumped along the cobblestones of what looked like a pedestrian walkway. We guilty shrugged as walkers moved out of our way. A man with a cane for the blind clung to a nearby apartment. Another guy with two crutches hobbles to the side. Yikes. Were we actually allowed to drive here?
We passed a Burger King and Linda knew where we were. Apparently, all of her directions throughout Pamplona were based on the location of the Burger King, but it worked.
Near the Burger King was this mural with the Running of the Bulls. Maybe that's what Linda remembered
Even as we drove seemingly aimless circles, we knew we were better off than our husbands who were wet and cold somewhere out on the trail. We found the apartments, unloaded our bags and set off to find the parking garage that was prepaid. We drove and drove, around Plaza del Castillo, the main square in the old town, around the outside of the city and back in, always keeping the cathedral in mind since that was near our apartment. 
What a charming street leading to the cathedral
As we went for another pass toward the parking garage, we got a call to pick up Maurice who had blazed his own trail and taken a loop, ending up far from Pamplona.
Like a James Bond movie, we could hear the clock ticking in our heads as we raced toward the pin he dropped us, knowing his phone was dying and if it did, then we couldn't contact him or find him.
Meanwhile, Earl had arrived in Pamplona, wet, muddy boots tracking along the cobblestones, and he found our apartment but didn't have the codes to get in the building. We'd sent the codes but they arrived in an unreadable email since his phone had gotten damp on the trail.
Both of our hikers texted and called as we tracked them down.
We finally returned to Pamplona, searching for the parking garage, and after a couple of hours we parked and walked across the old city.
We decided to do laundry, and luckily, a bar just outside the laundromat gave us the entertainment we needed. Sangria and clean clothes.
Rain clouds still threatened as we did laundry

But no clouds behind me and my sangria

My attempt at an artsy photo after Linda showed me how. 
After laundry, and a walk across town to complain at the hotel, we returned to a tapas bar. I have never been to a "real" tapas bar, which this apparently was. People crowded around the bar and scrunched into tables. The tapas choices were under glass all around the bar. But being on the short side, I couldn't see most of the offerings. Plus, I had no idea what any of them were. One was a sausage in a very puffy blanket of pastry. Another looked like a cup of au gratin potatoes but was actually crab and shrimp.
I asked for one and the bartender put it in the microwave, as he did all of the tapas when someone asked for it.
It just felt wrong to microwave tapas and carry it to the table. The entire place felt frenetic. People eating quickly, ordering quickly. I pictured a Spanish meal being laid back. I'd choose several tapas dishes and someone would bring it to my table. But that didn't happen.
Everyone else at our table was pleased with their choices. I didn't like the crab and shrimp dish because it tasted fishy, but Earl ate it and gave me something that looked like cornbread with potatoes and onions in it. I also ate a garlic mushroom that Linda ordered.
Overall, I was underwhelmed. And I didn't expect that the Frenchman in our group would consider that an adequate meal, but he did.
Afterward, Earl and I stopped for dessert, hot chocolate and churros. The chocolate is super thick - easier to eat with a spoon than drink. But it had a taste that reminded me of Atkins protein shakes back in the 80s, so I didn't finish the hot chocolate either.
Thick, thick hot chocolate
After a good night's sleep for me, I read about the upcoming trail today and decided not to hike it. It has a very steep, rocky descent that a number of hikers get hurt on. I would pass. Earl did not have a good night's sleep. He had a lot of tossing, turning and moaning and decided he needed to go to a clinic. He had a blister appear and pop on our very first long day of hiking. He's been treating it ever since.
Don't worry -- it's covered
He also took a hard blow to the shin yesterday. Apparently the trees were all hanging low, loaded down with the rain. A hiker in front of him shoved a branch out of the way with his pole and let it slam back into Earl's shin, which is now red and swollen.
So after breakfast at a Belle Epoque-style restaurant, 
Cafe Irina -- Linda posted a picture from inside
we went in search of a clinic. We stopped at a pharmacy first and they directed us. We asked two more people before we found it.
We stood in line while two women helped everyone waiting in line. Finally it was our turn. We speak no Spanish, remember, other than gracias. She filled out Earl's information then explained, on a phone translator, that we had to pay 36,58 euros for our appointment. No big deal. I pulled out our credit card while Earl dug out the cash. We were prepared.
No, we had to walk to a bank to pay then come back with the receipt from the bank.
I was baffled.
Since Earl was in pain, he sat in the waiting room and I would do the walking to the bank. When I came back, I would need to get in line again with the receipt.
And apparently, it didn't need to be any particular bank. Any bank would do. She drew a map for me that sent me in totally the wrong direction, but I eventually made my way to Plaza del Castillo again. She had said there were banks at either end of the plaza so I went to a big building with a name like Salamander that had lots of signs, but none of them looked like banco or banko. When I saw an ATM, I went inside anyway.
The security guard was also the keeper of the appointments. He gave me a number and I sat down on a couch, staring at a huge television screen and waiting for my number to be called. After about 15 minutes, my number appeared on the screen and I was allowed to pay cash for my doctor visit.
Like most doctor visits, it was delayed. To make a long story probably longer, Earl ended up with a 2nd degree friction burn on his foot where the blister was. She didn't xray his shin, but we're still keeping an eye on it. He's asleep beside me as I write this with his foot elevated.
Meanwhile, Linda and I went to get the car from the parking garage and again seemed to break many driving rules as we careened through the pedestrian streets. We parked in front of the apartment building and when we got inside, the codes for the apartments didn't work anymore. Check out time was 11 and it was after 11. Of course, we didn't know because there was no information in the apartments.
Anyway, our things were in the apartment and we were not.
Spanish, English, Spanish, English, phone calls, wrong turns.
Finally, we left Pamplona and drove to our next stop. Puente la Reina where the weather is beautiful and I'd better get some work done.

The 12th century church has real bells

The doorway is very elaborate


sillygirl said...

In reading your "report" I think you should have contracted with a film crew to go with you and record your wacky adventures - many people would enjoy it and I could see it winning awards! Guess that comes from watching a series about the English couple that buy a chateau. You could be movie stars!

Paulita said...

Sillygirl, I would hate to be on a TV show. I'd be so critical of how I look on camera all the time. But we definitely have wacky adventures.

sillygirl said...

There is nothing wrong with how you look - having been in small films myself I know what you are talking about but no one else sees you the way you see yourself. If you watch some "normal people" videos you will also see this. It is the personality that shines through the face and some "pretty" people look pretty ugly once you get to know them.

NIKE said...

Aaj Pucha Hai Dil Ne Ek Sawal HumseDur Reh Kar Aapko Bhi Kya Humara Khyal Aata Hai play bazaar Dur Na Jaya Karo Dil Tadap satta king ata HaiAapke Hi Khyal Mein Din Guzar Jata Hai.

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