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Pamplona Bullring mural
Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

Hemingway, bulls, Bayonne and crummy French motel

Bayonne, Aquitaine, France
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

After breakfast at the delightful Diagonal Plaza, we drove through the Navarra Region to Pamplona, the Roman walled city of Pompei. Pamplona is famous for the July festival of Sanfermines (running of the bulls).

We aimed for Plaza de Toros, the third largest bullring in the world and found a parking garage on the spot. There is a statue of Hemingway, an avid
bullfight fan during his lifetime, in front of the building and next to the bullruns.

We did some shopping at the nearby Plaza de Castillo square, the heart of Pamplona, where
bullfights took place up to the end of the 19th century. Then, like the inspired Hemingway, we had lunch at one of the beautiful cafeterias bearing his name.

Crossing the border to France, we drove on the Autoroute de la Cote Basque past Biarritz, a luxurious seaside town on the Bay of Biscay on the
Atlantic coast in Southwestern France to Bayonne, France, the French Basque area.

Our faithful GPS, Lucia, had trouble locating our hotel and I was getting a little anxious when I surveyed the neighborhood.

Hemingway
Hemingway

Well, the website manager surely knew how to photoshop because it looked totally different in reality. The wooden railings were flaky, the rooms very clean but one could not swing a cat inside and the lime green cupboard screamed: “Please repaint me!”

We stayed the night and actually the rooms were really clean, the beds were very comfortable and the shower excellent. However, Herb found us a nicer hotel
online in a much nicer location next to the Nive river and we gave our notice for the following evening. We decided to also give their French cuisine a miss
and went exploring old-town Bayonne.

Bayonne dates back to 3rd century Roman times. The Vikings once settled here, using the river for slave-trading. It has also been subjected to numerous sieges, mostly French, during the centuries. Old Basque-style houses line the river banks on both sides of the old city.

We delighted in trying to decipher the French menu and ordered tapas and the obligatory wine of the region to share. Bayonne is renowned for its excellent
hams and we were not disappointed.

The sun only sets well after 10 pm, so the streets teemed with moms, dads, children, infants in strollers and groups of teenagers hanging out at the bars on the sidewalk watching the world soccer cup games. We explored the streets and then headed back.

Bayonne and the river Nive
Herb and Judy at the River Adour in Bayonne
Pamplona Bullring mural

 

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