a jaunt to pamplonaPosted: March 31, 2012
From Avignon in Southern France to Pamplona, Spain is about eight hours by car. When my daughter and I found out that my brother in law would need to drive down to a dog show by himself because we were visiting, we decided to tag along. Next morning, after fresh croissants from the bakery, we loaded our bags into the LandRover Defender and diesel humming away we went.
Avignon has blue skies like Montana with mountains on the near horizon. We are surrounded by orchards and vineyards and fields of melons that smell so sweet that just by being near them, I can close my eyes and savor the glorious scent. We roll down the rural one lane road past the bounties of the land, past the camps of gypsies who have summered here since the Pope gave them right of passage centuries ago. The sun rises and warms us, as we roll down the road past cyclists and tiny Renaults. We are soon on the toll road and on our way to Spain.
Our little company consists of the three humans and Scion, a large male Rhodesion Ridgeback, already a champion of Europe, Lilly, the youngest member of the pack, who is always at the heart of mischief but escapes punishment with her sweet disposition, almost as if she says, “who me?” with her dancing eyes.
We continue our trip south, and pass a site where there are cave paintings. My one regret on my stay was that I did not stop there, but perhaps next visit. We stop for gasoline and try the prepared sandwiches which again are excellent and are on our way again. We pass mountain villages, fortresses as we wind our way toward the mountains. One rest stop boasts a tribute to the Tour De France.
We arrive at Pamplona at dusk, the city lights sparkling on the mountainside as our defender chugs up towards them.
One checked in, the dogs in the rooms we head down to the restaurant for dinner. It is recommended that Spanish beers are good, so we agree on a beer for dinner. We share a calamari as an appetizer and I have a salad with goat cheese, which is delicious. The goat cheese is baked and comes out with a brown crust that provides just a bit of resistance before the melted smooth cheese runs across your tongue. I order a steak, and it arrives seared to perfection with just the right amount of red in the center, and a sprinkling of sea salt crystals on top. A bite of salad and goat cheese, a bite of steak, a sip of beer, what a way to end the day.