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.