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Dean is going to be so disappointed with me

overcast 20 °C

The more time we spend visiting big cities, the more we realize that they just aren't for us. Barcelona has plenty of sites to see, but it also has quite a pollution problem (at least it did this week) and we just don't like crowds that much. We had a fantastic time with Anna and Jordy and highly recommend their place as well as the airbnb service we used. When we went looking for the famous Gaudi Church Friday night, it started to rain and when we tried to catch up with some friends who happened to be in the city, that didn't work out either...it was a sign we needed a change of scenery. With our trip to Nepal on hold until I get my passport back with my visa to India, we have some time to kill and it was time to do some driving. We figured we would rent a car for two weeks and go and see some of Northern Spain, Southern France and maybe Monaco or Italy if we have time.

My good friend Dean used to build cars for BMW's Formula One Team so he has spent a lot of time in Europe, he appreciates a good road trip and he has a passion for fine automobiles. We have spent many an evening at The Red Piano discussing his favourite trip along some of these roads, particularly France, Monaco and Italy. He even emailed me this week to remind me of some of the details and to make sure I splurged on some good wheels. He suggested the Lamborghini, but I checked and our luggage wouldn't fit. When I went through the website and reserved the car I picked a little Audi that I thought would have to suffice and was quite looking forward to the drive. Apparently I missed the small print. We arrived at the rental agency just ahead of 2 busloads of people also picking up their cars. The paperwork went smoothly and I even opted for the TomTom GPS to alleviate what Nat might call "unwanted scenic routes" that can make our trips somewhat more beautiful, and definitely hours longer. Instead of a car inspection, the lady at the counter handed us our keys and a parking spot number and sent us on our way. She assured me it was a "great car", her "favourite", "very sporty" ... notice that those are all direct quotes. Don't forget the two busloads are people standing behind me that just got off very long international flights from somewhere. We wandered out to parking spot 23 and it may as well have been 13. Where I was expecting my 2 door Audi rocket to be, someone had parked a diesel Citroen Picasso... there must be some mistake, maybe my keys won't open it and our car is close by!? Nope, she had stuck us with a 4 door cubed shaped family vehicle that is far too sensible to be any fun. And when I turn around to consider going to make a trade I look at the line wrapping around the building and compare it to the dwindling number of cars in the lot. I picture us going into the office, at the back of the line and when we come out again every car in the lot is gone and we are stuck with nothing. Nat tries to reassure me that it will be fun and all I can hear is Dean's voice..."YOU ARE DRIVING A WHAT?? What's a PICASSO...that's not a car!"

As we drove off in our "Magic Bus", we plugged in the GPS and figured we would head to Pamplona for the night and then on to San Sebastien on the Northern Spanish coast near the French border on Sunday. Our GPS comes with a multitude of accents in both male and female so our tour guide for the first part of the trip is a drunken Irishman named Sean. He did manage to get us the 500 miles without too much trouble and we checked into our hotel by 8pm. The temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees during the drive so we looking pretty funny in our shorts and tees while everyone else was bundled up. We made a quick wardrobe change and headed in search of dinner. Pamploma is famous for their Running of the Bulls and for their Tomato Festival, but we missed them both. Fortune did smile on us once yesterday as we arrived just in time for Restaurant Week. The pictures below are of the busy streets and bars and the food we managed to find. Natalie picked the restaurant and when we arrived at 8:30 we were informed that they didn't open until 9, strange but okay, we went out and sampled some tapas and the local wine. Very little english speaking here, but we manage. By the time dinner rolled around, Natalie was pretty hungry and rushed her Spanish a little bit, I don't think she meant to order a small bottle of water for herself and a large bottle of wine for me, but I didn't argue. It was a quick stay in Pamploma, but it was fun, it is less than 100 kms to San Sebastien so that should be a piece of cake...I'll write about that later.

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The "Meat Bars"...not only a good selection of alcoholic beverages, but hanging over the bartender is more cured meat than I know what to do with!!

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The streets are Pamplona are packed for restaurant week, despite the frosty temperatures

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Dinner at strange upstairs back room...not bad....

Posted by colincampbell 15:11 Archived in Spain

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