Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 05/05/11
IBERIA2001 #19 Iruña to Donostia
We started Spain in the nation of Catalunya. Then we went through Aragon when we were in Sallent (remember Catherine of Aragon?) Here in this nation of Navarra, the Basque name for Pomplona is Iruña (meaning "the city") and they call San Sebastián Donostia. After dinner (4AM) the hotel let me do email - I had 176 emails of which 120 were junk. Then I went through the real mail and sent out the two and got to bed at 6:30 AM. Next morning it was tough crawling out of bed to get to Mass but I caught a cab to the Catedral de Pamplona (Santa Maria) and actually got there on time which meant listening to a long homily in Español - my punishment. In the church they have a carved Madonna that watched over the crowning and marriage of all the Navarese kings. Many of them are buried here. The most famous was Carlos III who united the warring factors of the city and created the nation of Navarra. There is an effigy of he and his wife laying on their backs in the center of the church (made of alabaster.) The cloister outside is the best preserved Gothic example in Europe. I had a coffee at the little cafe overlooking the walls of the city. That reminds me. I can't get a cappuccino anymore. When I ask for one, they say "Que?" What they call a cappuccino is coffee with a big dollop of whipped cream in it - ugh! So I have to get café con leche which is only so so, but I'm getting used to them. I try to catch a cab back but there isn't one cab at the locations you have to catch them at and I wind up walking all the way back to the hotel with nature calling and not one place open because it is Sunday.
Some interesting things about Pamplona. San (Saint) Fermín was the son of Roman Senator Firmus who ruled Pamplona. He was the their 1st bishop in the 3rd century and he was beheaded in Amiens, France in 303 AD. In 1591 they started a celebration to honor him called San Fermín which is held every July 7-14. Hemingway made the world aware of it in his book "Fiesta" which was made into a movie, "The Sun Also Rises" starring Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power. The running of the bulls is held each morning at 8:30 down Estafeta street and so far 13 have died and all were Spanish except the last one on 7/13/95; Matt Tassio 22 from Illinois. After the run the bulls are fought in the arena and then eviscerated and skinned. You can have an apartado which is fino (dry sherry) & criadillas (boiled bull's testicles).
Opus Dei is a very conservative Catholic (somewhat secret) organization founded in 1928 by Father Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (born in Barbastro in 1902, where we had dinner). Pamplona became their headquarters where they built the University of Navarra (very prestigious). He died in 1975. They have 60,000 members in 80 countries. I was first introduced to Opus Dei by Dr. Karl Ossoinig when I lectured in Iowa City 8 years ago.
Another Basque specialty here is a liqueur called Pancharán which is made of anise liqueur & pacharán berries (20-30% alcohol). We lazed around for a while because we heard it was raining hard in San Sebastian. After going to see the major bull ring arena, we headed out at 6:30 through the most beautiful countryside you have ever seen, lush and green. It took 1:15 to arrive over the mountains to beautiful San Sebastian. I have to come with new words for beautiful, gorgeous, spectacular and fantastic because there is no way to describe what a lovely little spot this is. It's incredible. Manuel booked us into the Tryp Orly 1/2 block from the beach. I had called Dr. Jaime Aramberri who would meet us for dinner at 10 PM.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #20
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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