In Search of Ernest Hemingway - in Pamplona!10/04/2016
Many places in the world can claim a special attachment to Ernest Hemingway: he spent years in Paris, Cuba and Kenya, treading the streets and writing novels. But it is Pamplona that was his first obsession and greatest love. The small Navarrese capital was virtually unknown when Hemingway first visited it in 1923 to attend the bull running festival of San Fermín: it was Hemingway’s first and most celebrated novel, The Sun Also Rises, that put the sanfermines, and consequently Pamplona, on the map. A day trip to Pamplona is a highly recommended addition to our school trips to the Basque country.
The memory of Hemingway can be felt throughout the city, on the many plaques and statues dedicated to him and the many bars, hotels and hostels named after him. However, he can best be found in the modern Pamplona in the same place where he could most often be found in life: leaning against the bar in the Café Iruña. Hemingway felt that the city of Pamplona had something of a timeless quality, and the Café Iruña is one of the places that most clearly demonstrates this: an eye-catchingly ornate 19th century building, it remains virtually unchanged since the 1920s.
Our Pamplona itineraries follow Hemingway’s footsteps through the city. You begin your visit with a guided walking tour of the route of the Encierro – the traditional bull running which inspired The Sun Also Rises. After a bull running photo opportunity at the Monumento al Encierro, you continue on to some of Hemingway’s favourite haunts: first of all, the Pamplona bull ring, where the author discovered a fascination with bullfighting that inspired him to write Death In The Afternoon, a non-fictional celebration of the ceremony and traditions of el toreo. The tour carries on to the Hotel La Perla, where Hemingway often stayed during his many visits to Pamplona, and then to the Plaza Consistorial, where the famous opening ceremony for the sanfermines (the chupinazo) is held. The day finishes with a meal at the Café Iruña, stepping right into a scene from one of the author’s books:
"We had coffee at the Iruña," Barnes continues, "sitting in the comfortable wicker chairs, looking out from the cool of the arcade at the big square." – The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
You can add a Pamplona daytrip to our Basque Country Art and Design tour from just £30 per person. Get in touch with us on 0121 271 0121.
By Laura Whitaker