Hotel Europa is a 3-star hotel just off the Plaza del Castillo. By the time we climbed the stairs to the lobby registration desk, we were exhausted. As usual, our luggage was right there for us, and we made our way to the room and collapsed on the beds. We knew that dinner in the hotel was not until 9 pm that night, so we decided to wash up and then try to find another place to eat before nine. It was at this point that both Greg and I discovered that we could hardly walk. Our calf muscles were screaming at us! I got the WiFi working and emailed Heather about our leg problems. She suggested trying to find some kind of roller apparatus that would roll out our calves. I discovered that I could accomplish the same thing by sitting at the edge of the bed and rolling my calves over the edge. This helped loosen them up. Greg did the same thing and it seemed to help.
After showers, we got dressed and headed down to the front desk. We had to use the elevator, because our legs were still killing us. The hotel clerk recommended going a few blocks south to Calle San Nicolas where there were several good restaurants. As we headed in that direction, we were amazed how everything had suddenly changed. It seemed as if everyone had suddenly come out of the hibernation of siesta and was out on the streets. Calle San Nicolas appeared to be the happening place for bars and restaurants in Pamplona, and every place we came to was filled to the gills.
After wandering around for ten minutes or so, we finally found a less-crowded restaurant, called ‘La Chistera’. When we stepped inside, the bar was very active, and we were told that the restaurant would not be serving until 8 pm. Well, since that was better than 9 pm, we decided to stay and have a drink while waiting. The waiter said that would be fine. He brought us some menus and we ordered a drink. Eight o’clock was now approaching, and we noticed that others were ordering dinner and some were receiving their meals by this time. We called the waiter over, and he began to speak rapidly about “ocho hora”, shrugging his shoulders and pointing at his watch, and then something else that I was unable to understand. We ordered another drink and sat there for an additional 15 minutes. Then we were approached by another waiter who greeted us in English and proceeded to explain the entire menu to us. As it turned out, the first waiter had been telling us that an English-speaking waiter was on the way and should be in the restaurant by 8 o’clock. The new waiter happened to be that guy, and he apologized for being late. We ordered our meal and received a bottle of vino tinto that was included in the €12 price for the “menu del dia.” The appetizer consisted of pickled peppers sprinkled with sea salt. Delicioso!
The walk home from the restaurant was difficult due to our aching calf muscles, and the wind and rain had started which made it quite cold outside. Back at the room, we tried the massage thing on the side of the bed and it seemed to help. We then fell asleep, looking forward to a day of rest and tour of Pamplona in the morning.
The breakfast buffet was served in the main dining area of the hotel, and it was quite nice, to say the least. Plenty of fresh fruit and cheese and cold cut meat. The omni-present toast was also plentiful, along with a large selection of jams and jellies. The coffee proceeded from a special machine that required one to put a pre-selected disc in the machine — not too bad.
Greg and I discussed our plans for the day, and decided that we had two priorities before anything else. One priority was to see if we could get any laundry done and the other was to buy a phone to use for the rest of the trip.
The desk clerk told us that the laundry could be done by the hotel or there was a self-serve laundra-mat right on the plaza just a block away. We decided to opt for the self serve, and we found it quite easily, thanks to good directions from the clerk. Greg and I were the only people in the place, and we found it to be a very efficient operation. While the laundry was drying, I decided to try and find the Orange store to buy a cell phone. Since I was able to get WiFi in the laundra-mat, I looked up Orange on the internet through my smart phone and found a store that was only about four blocks away. With map in hand, I set out to find it.
It was relatively chilly outside, and I was glad that I had dressed warmly. This consisted of a T-shirt, fleece outer shirt and my water-proof jacket. I remember thinking that if it were to get any colder, I was not prepared and would most likely have to buy something down the road. I made a mental note to check to see when the next large town was since I thought that perhaps I might be better to buy something in Pamplona while I was here. A few steps later, I found the Orange store, but it was closed. That’s when I discovered that all the stores were closed. It was Sunday. Doh! The hours on the store window indicated that it would be open at 10 am on Monday. This would do us no good whatsoever, since we figured to be long-gone by that time tomorrow. Suddenly, the decision to buy a phone was made much easier. I returned to the laundro-mat, and told Greg of my adventures, and we finished off the laundry and scooted back to the hotel.
The only thing left to do was to get out on the street and do some sightseeing. We headed out for the Plaza de Toros first and then made our way back through the winding medieval streets to the fortress that we came through the day before.
Climbing to the top of the walls, we were able to get a great view of the valleys and mountains we passed through on the way into town. On the way back to the Plaza del Castillo we found a small store that sold bread and meats. Greg bought a sausage and I purchased a large loaf of French bread for our journey tomorrow, feeling fairly certain that we would be able to pick up some good fruit from the breakfast buffet. On the Plaza there was a sandwich shop that was open, and we ordered a bocadillo con jamon y queso with a glass of wine.
The sandwich was just so-so, but that did not stop us from eating it. At the very least, it would tie us over until another late dinner. Back at the hotel we took a much needed nap. When we awoke, we turned on the TV in the room just for kicks and discovered what would render many hours of enjoyment for us – Spanish Game Shows! Our favorite was one where contestants competed against each other to answer questions from the host. If they continued to answer correctly they could advance, but if they answered incorrectly enough times, the floor would open up below their feet and they fell through it and out of sight! This was hysterical to us, especially the looks on the faces of those being dropped. This show, which we never found the name of, was usually on every night at seven pm, so we were able to catch it many times since that was generally when we were waiting to go down to dinner. By now, it was nearly eight pm and we decided to go back to the same restaurant, La Chistera, which means Top Hat in English! The same waiter was there and he appeared delighted to see us again. He brought us extra portions of the salty pickled peppers. After dinner, the waiter brought us some homemade cordial wine that was “on the house”. Another great dining experience. That was the extent of our nighttime activities since we were expecting a big day in the morning with a climb up to the Alto del Perdon.
On Monday morning we were able to get to the hotel restaurant for an early breakfast where we met a group of women from Washington State who were walking from Pamplona to Logrono. They left before us after saying that they hoped to see us later on down the road.