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Hemingway Adventure

Pamplona, Spain (first day)

Pamplona, Spain 
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Flour begins to fly in the Town Hall square, as Pamplona prepares to let off steam.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureWhen Ernest and Hadley first discovered the fiesta, they reckoned they were the only English-speaking people in town. Nowadays you can barely find a table outside La Perla that is not occupied by a hard core of world-wide fiesta addicts who return here every year. There is a strong Swedish contingent. One of them, Hans Tovoté, known to everyone as 'To-To', has written a novel about Pamplona, and another, Alf Tönnesson, has booked room 217, the one Hemingway stayed in, until the year 2040. There are Norwegian, French and British groups, with their own clubs and insignias. There are numerous bearded Americans who look like Hemingway and many more pretending to be Hemingway.

I walk through the arcades of the square to the Café Iruńa, which displays another Hemingway poster. He and his friends would hang around here watching the action and drinking absinthe (now considered too strong to be legally served). It features heavily in The Sun Also Rises and, with the help of a jug or two of sangría, you can slip quite effortlessly back into the Lady Duff Twysden era. Only when you look more closely at the passing crowd, do you realise that time has moved on.

A procession approaches, demonstrating for the release of ETA (Basque Nationalist) prisoners, still held for terrorist activities. Then they in turn are gone, swamped by the crowd of lanky, baseball-hatted international youth slowly taking over the Plaza before the big day.

I catch sight of a copy of El Mundo. It has a page devoted to San Fermín on the Internet. The headline reads 'Gracias a Hemingway'.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Pamplona, Spain (first day)
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Pamplona
  • Book page no: 97

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