Once upon a sunny day in September a long time ago, in a beautiful German town, and just before I got ready to make my way towards a new beginning, a very dear person from what is now my past told me if I ever got to go to Pamplona, I should drink a cup of coffee at Café Iruña, possibly at the same table Hemingway used to sit. “Imagine you’re drinking it with me”, he said with that certainty of absolute knowledge of the thing that would happen eventually, even though I for one was sure I would never get there. And yet, a couple of years later, way into that new beginning of mine, there I was.
The opportunity showed itself and I simply grasped it. I took a round trip by train thinking I could spend a whole day in Pamplona and then get back to Madrid. I used to love travelling alone, because I didn’t have to depend on anyone or even talk to anyone, if I didn’t feel like it. I got there in the morning, and I took a cab down town. It didn’t take me long to find Café Iruña, but before that, I had some fun and I learned something as well. I couldn’t remember the exact name, so I started asking people who seemed to be locals and a couple of policemen where Hemingway’s cafe was.
“Whose coffee house did you say you were looking for?” asked one of the policemen. “̶Oh, you know”, I started, “the well-known coffee-shop where that American writer, He-min-gway used to come”. I spelled it on purpose. I was definitively sure that was why he didn’t get it; who knew how they used to say his name in Spanish. The policeman smiled and asked his partner if he knew any American writer who lived in Pamplona. The other one knew what I was talking about and told me I should be looking for Café Iruña, in Plaza del Castillo. When he gave me the directions, I realized it was actually nearby. On my way, I found the Museum of Pamplona’s Bull Run, and I stopped there. It was all modern and shinny and the guide was very nice, so I decided to take a look before I had that cup of coffee I had promised, at Hemingway’s cafe. The guide talked about him from the very beginning.
“The Festival of San Fermin (Encierro de San Fermín) takes place in Pamplona for the first time in 1922 and ever since has lasted a week in early July (from the 6th to the 14th) every year. But the Festival has earned its spot on the international map thanks to the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who came here in 1923 and enjoyed it so much that he used to say no other carnival in the world can ever set free the kind of feelings, emotions and sensations the runners tried during the race. Despite the videos, the runners don’t actually run from the bulls”, the guide explained, “as much as with them, practically guiding them towards the Plaza de Torros, where the race ends and the climax of the show takes place”. Continue reading