FORTY-SIXTH MOVEMENT: SPAIN
I woke up after 06:30, showered, dressed, and packed my bags. Giovanni followed the same pattern and by 07:30 we departed the hotel, leaving our key in the room. We then walked to the bus station in Andorra la Vella, checked in, loaded our bags on to the bus, and then found some nice seats towards the back. Giovanni and I both agreed that this particular bus was one of the best we had ever travelled on (it certainly beats all the ones I’ve taken on this trip). The bus departed the bus station at 08:16 and we exited the country of Andorra at 08:30.
We passed through the border and on in to España, where we immediately stopped in order to have the Spanish customs officials check the luggage compartments on the bus. Once finished at 08:37, we continued on driving through the Spanish countryside, passing through some gorgeous mountainous areas. We arrived at Barcelona-Sants Railway Station at 11:12 and walked inside to buy tickets to Pamplona. At first, Giovanni and I tried to use one of the automated-ticket machines, but were shocked to see that that all trains to Pamplona were booked full. We then went to the ticket counter and discovered that all direct trains were indeed full, however, we could take a train to Zaragoza and then a follow-on train to Pamplona (apparently the Renfe machines (and website) doesn’t handle connections, only direct trains). So, we bought out tickets to Zaragoza and then had to separately buy our tickets from Zaragoza to Pamplona – wow . . . apparently the ticket counter doesn’t handle connections very well (I think this is the first country I’ve encountered this bizarre problem). Oh well, once we received our tickets, we had about two hours to kill. Since we were both hungry, we decided to eat at the McDonalds in the train station (I had a McExtreme with bacon, French fries, and an iced tea). After our meal, we passed through the over-the-top security (like one might encounter at an international airport) and entered the waiting area for our train. While waiting, we both had a cappuccino before passing through the ticket-check roughly twenty minutes before the train was set to depart. We then walked down to the platform and entered in to the train. It turned out that Giovanni and I had seats in the “quiet zone” – a separated area with glass sliding doors to help keep out all the noise and where we were not really supposed to talk. This train departed Barcelona-Sants at 13:25 and it was a pleasant ride (at least it was nice and quiet). We arrived at Zaragoza at 14:49, found the train waiting area (after mistaking the bus waiting area as the train waiting area), enjoyed some white wine that Giovanni had purchased earlier, and then waited until it was time to enter on to the platform for our train to Pamplona. When we finally did enter on to the platform, we could see that almost everyone waiting for the train were young and itching to party. The train finally showed up, we quickly found a couple of seats, and we departed at 16:52. I was in pretty good spirits until I sat down on this train, which had no air-conditioning and no way to open the windows. It was hot and miserable and I was sweating dearly. The temperature that was listed on the LED sign was 14⁰ Celsius, which of course was not accurate and, at one point, very briefly, the true temperature was shown: 49⁰ Celsius. Why this LED sign was set up to give a false temperature, I’m sure I don’t know. On the way in to Pamplona, we did pass by a town named Olite that had a beautiful Gothic castle-palace (Palacio Real de Olite), which was the royal seat of Charles III of Navarre.
We finally arrived in Pamplona after 19:10 and I was pretty exhausted and tired and irked. I walked with Giovanni up to the river before we went our separate ways – having booked rooms at different hotels. I continued on to the hotel I had booked with and checked in upon arrival. I received two room keys and then went on up to my room. After laying my bags down and getting situated, I went out to the old town to walk around and buy some wine for tonight and tomorrow. First, I walked from “ATM” to “ATM” until I finally found a normal one that didn’t require my phone number or some special password (seriously, what is up with the ass-backward way of doing shit in this country – just have normal ATMs, air-conditioned train cars, normal railway stations, and normal ticket machines that can automatically find and make connections; it is the year 2015, there is no excuse). After I was finally able to draw some euros, I walked to a shop and bought my bota (leather carafe) and then I walked to two different convenience stores and bought two bottles of wine and two cartons of wine. Next, I returned to my room and started drinking that small bottle of French wine that I had bought days ago in Paris when Giovanni rang and went up to my room. We both decided that we should buy our clothes for tomorrow and get something to eat. So, we walked behind the hotel I was staying at, where there were many food stalls and clothing stalls. First, we bought our uniform for the festival: white trousers, white pants, red sash, and red neckerchief. Then, we ate at one of the food stalls behind the hotel – we had fried sausage, paella, and sangria. We then returned to my room, said goodnight, and Giovanni left. I tried on the costume I had just bought (it fit nicely) and then proceeded to drink lots of wine. I finished the French bottle of wine and then drank a bottle of Spanish wine I had just bought, before starting on the second bottle of Spanish wine I had bought – I was feeling good. Eventually, around 02:00 and after consuming too much wine, I fell asleep.