Scouting Pamplona, Spain: Day 10’s Exploration of Pamplona
On the final full day of our Hemingway-esque journey across Southern Europe, we explore even further the city that the author lovingly returned to again and again. Our team set out to visit Pamplona’s best – from restaurant’s pushing the boundaries of Spanish cuisine to the historic places where Hemingway left his mark.
During the Founder’s Grand Cruise, the Hotel Castillo de Gorraiz is your home base in Pamplona. A luxurious retreat with all the exciting festivities of San Fermin just 10 minutes away, the hotel is close to the action while still maintaining its tranquility. You’ll have easy access to and from the hotel during your stay, so you can jump into the midst of San Fermin whenever you’re ready.
Consuming Culinary Innovation at Abaco Restaurant
Once we’d visited Hemingway’s famous stops, we continued our day with a meal that rivaled the author’s own spirit of adventure. We made our way through the cobblestone streets of Old Town Pamplona to a row of restaurants, bars, and venues that faced the Plaza de Toros, the famous bullfighting ring. We found Abaco Restaurant in the midst of the row of shops, an unassuming spot tucked away behind a small gate and courtyard. Our team was shown to the back room where Chef Jesús Íñigo, the proprietor of the restaurant, kept his Michelin Bib Gourmand and Repsole Guide Sole awards.
Once we were seated, we were shown the tasting menu at Abaco: 11 courses of creative, traditionally-inspired dishes from Chef Jesús himself. Paired with delicious wines like the Herederos de Marqués de Riscal Rioja, a 2016 Reserva from the first winery in the Rioja region to produce wines in the traditional Bordeaux fashion, each course was a mouthwatering new experience that seemed to harken back to our entire Founder’s Grand Cruise journey. While most dishes were loving tributes to Spanish cuisine, like the Eel Snack with Citronella and Dashi, others borrowed from Spain’s northern neighbors, France. Examples include a delicious Foie Gras with Pear and Vanilla and a post-dessert Petit-Fours.
The meal was something we’ll each remember for a long time to come – a celebration of our time in Bordeaux and Pamplona, the wonderful people we’d met along the way, and the adventurous spirit of Hemingway and the Founder’s Grand Cruise. We’d go on from here to explore evening Pamplona as its streets filled with life, becoming the living rooms of its good people.
A Passion for San Fermin at the Caravinagre Bar
A Retrospective of Day 10’s Excursions
The last day of our Founder’s Grand Cruise before we headed separate ways, Day 10 was an eventful day that bookended our Hemingway journey. From Bordeaux to Pamplona, we had followed in the author’s footsteps: along the tranquil Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Route he'd fished along and by the Chateau Margaux, for which Hemingway’s pervasive fondness of has trickled into his books and through his family, so that even his granddaughter was named Margaux. In Pamplona, we’d visited the same places he’d frequented, like the Plaza de Toros – with its monument to the author out front – and the Hotel La Perla and Café Iruña.
Day 10 was the perfect cap to our trip, giving us the opportunity to see many more Pamplona destinations as we prepared to leave. With our quiet morning at the Hotel Castillo de Gorraiz, we were given the chance to reflect on our expedition as we relaxed in one of the luxurious lounges. In addition, we had the opportunity to eat one of the most adventurous meal’s we’d ever had at Chef Jesús Íñigo’s Abaco Restaurant. A resounding success, we would be sad that the journey was over, but excited to share it with our loved ones as we traveled home the next day.
Scouting Pamplona, Spain: Day 9’s Exploration of Pamplona
On Day Nine of our Founder’s Grand Cruise scouting trip, we immersed ourselves in multiple aspects of Pamplona’s incredible culture. As the city awaits the next Festival of San Fermin, it stays lively and colorful, with a friendly populace that fills the streets from dawn to dusk. Our first full day in Pamplona, we took full advantage of the opportunity we had in visiting one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite cities.
During the San Fermin Festival, the church hosts a welcome tapas event for guests of Running of the Bulls. Gathered with other travelers, you’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to sample the delicious food of Spain in the same building where the Kings of Navarre were crowned and later laid to rest.
Inside the Plaza de Toros de Pamplona
Next on our scouting journey through Pamplona, we visited the most famous destination of San Fermin. The Plaza de Toros de Pamplona is the final destination of the bulls after their guided run through the streets. Once the bulls arrive, they’ll be guided into the ring to fight one of the toreros. The Plaza de Toros is one of the most famous Ernest Hemingway destinations in the world -- a place he returned to again and again to watch the bullfights himself. Out front of the arena, a statue of Hemingway exists paying tribute to his love of San Fermin.
With the Founder’s Grand Cruise, guests will have the opportunity to visit the arena during San Fermin. Crowded with spectators as they glimpse one of the world’s oldest traditions, the legendary battles between toreros and their bulls are not to be missed.
A Bright Future for Pamplona Dining
After our day of earlier expeditions, a good bit of meetings, and a lot of walking around Pamplona, we’d worked up quite an appetite. Joined by some of our Pamplona friends, we visited the Trastienda del Colmado, a newly re-opened spot just outside of Old Town. The space was tucked away, a popular joint for locals. As if to prove that point, we found out later on that a famous fútbol player and his friends were occupying the table next to us.
A Retrospective of Day Nine’s Excursions
Day Nine of our Founder’s Grand Cruise scouting trip proved to be the perfect crash course on Pamplona. Learning about its traditions, culture, and food, we fell in love with the historic city. We could hardly wait to see it during San Fermin, when it filled with even more visitors, all seeking the same spirit of adventure that brought Hemingway so many years ago. With one final day in Pamplona ahead of us in our scouting trip, we could hardly wait to see what was next in store.
Scouting Pamplona, Spain: Day 8’s Travel from France to Spain
With our river cruise adventure at its end, the Authentic Voyages scouting team enjoyed one final morning aboard the SS Bon Voyage before starting off on the next leg of our journey – Pamplona, Spain. Home to the famed San Fermin Festival, and perhaps best known for the Running of the Bulls, Pamplona would prove to be a lively place, awaiting us with new experiences, friends, food, and more.
For Day Eight of our Founder’s Grand Cruise, we met for breakfast on the ship before disembarking to board the Authentic Voyages Pyrenees Express. Taking us across the Pyrenees Mountains and into Northern Spain, we would enjoy our scenic drive, explore a working bull ranch, and then check into our luxury golf resort hotel to rest. Full of activities, our last day in France and first day in Spain would have us say goodbye to one of the world’s most endearing cities, and introduce us to another.
Once in Spain, we stopped for late morning coffee at the Hotel Venta Etxalar’s café, a homely place tucked into the forested mountains. Once we were re-caffeinated, the Authentic Voyages Pyrenees Express made the rest of the drive, arriving just in time for our grand welcome to Pamplona.
After our scenic drive through France and Northern Spain, where we saw many of the same spots where Ernest Hemingway once fished, we made our way into Pamplona for a delicious lunch before our next excursion. Little did we know, our time in Pamplona would grow only more exciting as went to explore a working San Fermin bull ranch.
Visiting one of Navarra’s Bull Ranches
For our next excursion with our friend and driver Michel, we made our way to one of Navarra’s bull ranches, Ganadería Hermanas Azcona. Here, hundreds of bulls were raised in hopes of being one of the proud few featured during San Fermin.
We felt very fortunate to have been given a tour of the Ganadería Hermanas Azcona bull ranch. There, you could feel the intensity of the bulls, the same that brought the ever-adventurous Ernest Hemingway to San Fermin time and time again. Our team had the opportunity to learn quite a lot during our time at the ranch. When visiting as part of the Founder’s Grand Cruise, guests will also have the opportunity to learn the art of Capea – managing the matador’s cape – from one of Spain’s most famous bullfighters. While we didn’t get to learn that during our scouting trip, having the chance to see and learn about San Fermin from a bull rancher was an educational experience we won’t forget.
A Retrospective of Day Eight’s Excursions
With our long day of traveling and inspiring activities coming to an end, we made our way to the Hotel Castillo de Gorraiz Golf & Spa. Arriving to spacious rooms with beautiful views of the surrounding villages and mountains, we checked in for a quick meal and then were off to our rooms to rest for our first full day in Pamplona.
From the outstanding service as we left the SS Bon Voyage in the morning to the educational bull ranch visit that evening, each part of Day Eight only made us more enthusiastic for this next leg of our Founder’s Grand Cruise scouting trip. Our team was extremely pleased with the day’s adventures, which made us feel as if we were walking in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps ourselves. We could hardly wait for the next day’s excursions, where we dived even further into lively Pamplona and San Fermin.