Tourist of La Mancha

Arco de la Fronteras ES

Along the harbor in Barcelona is a two-hundred-foot monument to Christopher Columbus. “Why is Columbus so widely celebrated in Spain?” I asked. “He’s from Italy.”

“No one is completely sure where he was born,” I was told, which is Spanish for “We bankrolled him, so he’s ours.”

In 1486, after twice failing to convince the king of Portugal to finance his expedition, Columbus turned to the queen of Spain. Queen Isabella rejected him as well, but he was persistent.

After a few years and several revisions to his PowerPoint presentation, Isabella finally approved his project in April of 1492.

Six months later, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Five hundred years later, his statue was removed from in front of the city hall of my hometown.

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Shakedown tour of the Pyrenees


July 13, 2013

In Pamplona, the week-long Festival of San Fermín raged on. Again, the bulls ruled the course, goring two and injuring twenty-one more in a historic pile-up at the ring’s entrance.

To read about my visit to Pamplona, please see the previous post, Running of the fools.”

However, it was time to leave the revelry behind. Like guests sneaking out of a raucous party, friends Rob and Mandy and I checked out of our hotel in Pamplona and begin our driving tour of northern Spain and southern France.

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Running of the fools

Festival of San Fermín

While still a year out from my extended trek, I was asked by friends Rob and Mandy to tag along on a driving tour of northern Spain and southern France.

The invitation followed a discussion Rob and I had about the Running of the Bulls at the annual Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona. He had participated in the event twice before and I was intrigued by the idea of running it with a veteran. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.

To read about the trip beyond Pamplona, please see the next post, “Shakedown tour of the Pyrenees.”

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