Day 51: Leon to Pamplona - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

March 28, 2024

Day 51: Leon to Pamplona

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With our train to Pamplona only leaving at 1:30, we had the morning for another crack at Leon. This time we would bravely branch out from the main street, and explore the narrow areas to its east. The hotel man had mentioned the areas east and west as separate neighbourhoods. We think these are Barrio Humedo and Barrio Romantico. Like Paris with its 20 arrondisements, Leon has at least five barrios, or neighbourhoods. We set out in the direction of the cathedral, and turned right, perhaps into Humedo. The first thing we spotted was a lion crawling out of a sewer.

Lion crawls from sewer.
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His experience has made him fierce.
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We also found Alfonso V, from the 11th century, looking worriedly toward the lions, it seems.

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Starting in Santiago, we have noticed various cakes and cookies that are designated as regional specialties. Here in a store window we see a number of them. The "Holjadres" (at the back) are among these. These were also featured at breakfast this morning, and I am eating a chocolate one as I write this. "holjadre" in my translate program is simply "puff pastry", but the secret, as always, is in how they do it.

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Other store windows had Semana Santa posters, or as with the one below, souvenirs from a specific brotherhood or a specific passo. The cards you see are the type passed out by the nazarinos to the public. They often show a specific brotherhood's float, and name the botherhood on the back.

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We walked down the narrow, quiet, and car free streets, appreciating the balconies, the narrowness, and the building design. Soon the empty streets began to collect a few people. Dodie heard music then, and we saw that the people were walking toward it, so we followed.

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Wait for us.
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Ok. Something's Happening Here.
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Another clue was the appearance of this police motorcycle.
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Then around the corner came these.
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... and these scary ones.
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We took up a position with lots of other people along the street, to wait for what more might come along. But soon I trotted down the street to scope out the situation. The street came soon to a square, where a reviewing stand had been set up, and in the distance, a float was approaching. I went back to our position in the side street, and we settled in to watch. This turned out to be a real passo jackpot, as at least five floats passed us by, with many nazarinos, and a band between each. The floats were put on by different brotherhoods, and had a bit of logical sequence. The first was just a wooden cross, and this was carried and followed by women only. Then we got a float showing Jesus carrying his cross, one with him on the cross, and one with him much beat up, taken down from the cross. The final float had a rather radiant and well dress Mary.  Since each float took about half and hour to pass, we must have stood there for over two hours. The swaying of the floats and the rhythm of the drums is rather intoxicating, and the most fun is when the band passes right in front of you, with a really loud "boom, boom, boom".  Join us for a bit, and we have some commentary in the captions. And you watch a video and get bored, you can always fast forward or quit the video.

The square and the viewing stand.
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A young bearer of a botafumeiro (incense burner).
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Dodie receives a card for the current float.
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The white hoods seems particularly scary.
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We will photograph anything that flies. This drone was watching the processions from above. On the ground, TV photographers had nice cameras with sturdy tripods.
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Christ carries the cross.
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Oh, oh botafumeiro needs servicing.
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Christ on the cross float.
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Got the trading card!
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The carriers are tightly packed.
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Red feathers, and ladies in mourning dress.
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Traditional ladies' headdresses.
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Bare feet are often seen. But streets were cold and wet and some walkers were very young.
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Jesus down from the cross float.
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More ladies.
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A very small penitent.
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We were standing in front of a church as we watched. I duck in for a look. It was the church of St Martin. St. Martin has a big following in France as well, particularly at Tours.

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Back outside, we have the appearance of Mary.
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While there were several photographers with complicated rigs, this simple one was a puzzler, since it seems designed to hold two cell phones.
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Scott AndersonPortrait and landscape at the same time?
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2 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonGood thinking.
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Mary is very well dressed.
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Nazarino figures in store windows often come in different colours. Here in real life we see a variety of colour combinations.
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Perhaps 10 variants.
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With all the floats passed, we walked into the viewing square, which would appear to be the home of city hall. Above the stands we see what must be the crests of the various brotherhoods. A banner in town shows them as well.

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Now walking back through the town, it is striking just how attractive the place is.

The cathedral peeks from between buildings.
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Today is a holiday, which must account for more people being in the street.
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The design and colour of these buildings strikes me as rather Italian.
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Now it was finally time to leave town. We walked the short distance to the train station, and went to the "check in" area for our track. In Santiago and here again, RENFRE is running security screening, airport style. Dodie went to the info desk to make sure we were in the right place, and an agent came out to help make sure we would be on the right platform. I watched their conversation from afar, and was intrigued by the animated interaction:

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By this point the guy was well in to learning all the places we had cycled this trip.
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All these people lined up behind us, since we were now the experts.
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The train on the right had been sleeping in the station and was quite shiny. But our train, arriving here, looked like a peregrino - worn out, or at least muddy from the trail. Once we got going, though, its speed reached 250 kph!
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We were surprised to find that these bikes had made it on board. They are not folded, just bagged, with their front wheels off.
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The cyclists got off at a stop before ours. They had been well aware of the bus bottleneck at Ourense, and had boarded after that. It shows that there is some vague hope of getting out of Santiago by train with a bike.
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While in Leon the puzzle pieces - train station, hotel, and old town had fit together perfectly, when we got to Pamplona we found we had a few km to hike to get from the train to the hotel, which at least was close to (or in, really) the old town.

Here on our hike, we pass through the old town city wall.
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Now we have that much anticipated, so great, cityscape of narrow streets and balconies.
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Pamplona is known for the 'running of the bulls" which takes place during the San Fermin festival in early July. At that time, six bulls are released and they chase runners through the narrow streets. It is done daily over nine days. Today we passed a window with some photos of the event. It looks like an even match, but in the last photo  the bull has gone down. Do they have SPCA in this country?

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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks slick! I bet bulls don't often fall.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like maybe it was raining that day? We are always pulling for the bulls, not the runners.
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Bill ShaneyfeltNever made any sense to me whatsoever. Gene pool cleansing...
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We carried on past what must be city hall.
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And we entered this attractive large square. Spoiled from Leon, we thought this looked like good passo territory - but nothing.
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We did come to our "hostal" and found the door locked, of course. Phoning the contact number, we spoke to a lady that kept insisting she had sent us all relevant information over the Booking message service. That service is a very lame piece of programming, and unless you (erratically) also get an email with the same information, is quite difficult to access - with the App, and impossible with a desktop. Well, we got the various secret codes over the phone from the lady - for 150 euros there is no live check in at all, and no breakfast. The place is called Hostal Espoz y Mina. The room itself is fairly ok, but there would be no hope for storing bikes.

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There are lots of restaurants lining the square, so we decided to give one a try.  We are timid in our choices, so as usual ended with some variants of  "schnitzel".  We went crazy once we were spending money, and also ordered a Coke. Of course, in North America a soft drink is 250 ml and costs from 30 cents in Costco to $2 ? in a restaurant. Here we got a bottle that we have not seen at home for 40 years - 100 ml - for 3 euros! It's a great way to battle obesity,  but sheesh!

100 ml. That's 3.381 ounces.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThis has never made sense to me. My kids dispensed Coke and other soft drinks at school sporting events, (making money for the band) and were told the paper cups were worth more than the pop, so if someone asked for ice in a cup or water, they were to charge a dime... and still make a big profit. Mid to late 1980s.
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2 weeks ago
Note the inclusion of a fried egg.
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As we walked the short distance back to the hostal, we watched all the people standing in the street outside bars. Outdoor dining or bar standing is one great European thing, in all the countries. Hours later, the numbers are still all there - hopefully not the original people, though.
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Today's ride: 10 km (6 miles)
Total: 2,366 km (1,469 miles)

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Scott AndersonRemarkable luck to see this on what was just a train stop! I’m surprised this procession was on a Thursday morning though. We just witnessed the morning crucifixion procession (from our balcony!) this morning, Good Friday.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonThe Russians could really learn from the Romans. Two show trials and a crucifixion all on a single day! Yes, today, Good Friday is when we would have expected major passos.
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2 weeks ago