Tag Archives: weather

A Perfect Day For Pamplona

We slept in this morning and awoke to foggy weather on the coast.  After a few strong cups of coffee we decided–Pamplona?  Why not?

The drive was a little over an hour, and before we knew it we were in Pamplona, in the midst of the Fiesta de St. Fermin.  We even magically found free street parking close to the city center.  Of course our first site was the miniature running of the bulls.  It was great fun.

The entire city is dressed in the traditional all white with red scarf tied at the waist and a red neckerchief.  In fact, you really stand out if you aren’t (word to the wise and any lazy ill-informed tourists who decide to wake up and go to Pamplona during the Festival of St. Fermin on a whim–wink wink).   It was almost lunchtime by the time we arrived in the city, and all of the spectators, residents and tourists alike, were filling streetside cafés.

fermin cafe

We walked around towards some of the monuments–the Palacio de Navarra, the Plaza de Castillo, etc., but then found that the real action was on the old, narrow, side streets were the bars were a little more than crowded.

narrow street

At first it was fun, but then I realized I was hungry, and the line to the bar everywhere was about six drunkards deep.  Eek!  Everyone was much drunker than I was, and probably had been for a few good hours by 2pm (being that the bulls run at 8am).  The sun was high in the sky, it was very hot, and the odors of thousands of drunk people were starting to marinate.  I was borderline panicky–where would I find food (as not being able to find food is one of my greatest fears)???  Not even the smell of baking urine (sorry!) would allay my hunger.  I had to stay strong.  “I’m a traveler.  I’m exploring Pamplona (dammit!).”

We walked towards the Cathedral.  All of the monuments were closed due to the festival, and as we got closer to the Cathedral it got quieter.  Alongside the old church many of the revelers had resorted to street-side siestas (one of my most amusing discoveries so far in Spain–the public siesta–I’d like to think it is my great esteem for human dignity that kept me from photographing these hysterical scenes).

When I had gotten to the point where adrenaline had taken over as energy supplier in place of my usual daily calories, we turned a corner behind the Cathedral and found this lovely café:

el caballo blanco

Amazing.  No house music blaring from inside?  No line to the bar?  At least one person in sight who is clearly an employee of the institution?  Sold!  You can’t imagine what a haven this little café became.  It’s called El Caballo Blanco.  The service was necessarilly brusque, but efficient.  They were out of Txakoli by that hour, so I had beer, I’m not sure what kind, but it was cold, and the nice man brought it over to my table, which made it, as far as I’m concerned, akin to ambrosia.

Much to the amusement of the clientele seated nearby (who mostly drank and smoked) we ordered a lot of food–foie gras, jamón ibérico, tomates y avocates, y gazpacho.  They all teased us to see if we would eat it all–and we did.

comida

tomates

It wasn’t until I got home tonight that I figured out the name of this café by Google-ing “cafe behind cathedral pamplona.”  What I found was this timely little piece by on the New York Times.  And what do you know?  They found the same soothing little spot behind the Cathedral.  I double checked by matching up the NY Times and my own photograph of the café exterior.  I couldn’t have planned my sojourn in Pamplona better.  While I love reading travel guides and planning, I hate feeling bound to an itinerary when traveling (you’ll later find out that although I read the Pudlo guide to the South of France cover to cover not once, but twice, I only visited two of the restaurants it lists in my two weeks in the country).  I’d rather just walk and enjoy what’s in front of me.  So discovering El Caballo Blanco was a happy coincidence.  We returned to rain in Hondarribia tired, happy, and with an appetite for a late Spanish dinner.

goodbye

Goodbye sunny Pamplona

hondarribia

Hello rainy Hondarribia

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Martha’s Vineyard, Day Two

Sun came out today.  It was nice.  Went for a walk on the beach.

beach

The fog was still so thick you couldn’t see 100 yards down the beach, even with the sun out at 4pm.  The tiny dot in the distance is the Gay Head lighthouse.

starfish

There were lots of starfish on the beach.  I threw a bunch back in the water.

wampum

We collected wampum.

redrock

It got overcast on the way back.  The cliffs above the beach are streaked with deep red clay.  Access is restricted to tribal members by federal law.

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Martha’s Vineyard, Day One

69˚ and cloudy, but great clam chowder

house

the house

Since I’m a bit flu-ish and the weather is bad I didn’t make it more than about thirty yards from the house, but I discovered some interesting things nonetheless.

viney trunk

The visual effect of the vine along this trunk is beautiful, but the vine itself looks to be parasitic–I can’t imagine an oak tree being very happy to have vines wrapped around it, but maybe I’m wrong.

viney trunk2

more vines

wild ferns

wild ferns

waterlily

water lily on the pond

view

the view

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It’s Raining in Rockridge

I responded to the day by going out and relieving Bloomies of some of their merchandise, lest it get damaged in the rain.  

peony-1

peony-2

Nothing like big bright yellow peonies (and a fun mini pineapple) to lift the rain cloud from over your head!

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Warmest Day of 2009 in Rockridge so far!

gardening1Strong midday sun upper left, dappled sun and wisteria blossoms on the deck, a new terra cotta pot and seeds

seedsSeeds: (clockwise from upper left) Black Watchman Old Fashioned Hollyhocks, Love in a Mist Mulberry Rose Nigella, Heirloom Pepperbox Poppy, Scented Nicotiana Jasmine Alata, and Parisian Pink French Larkspur

And a song for all of you:

Oh Happy Day sung by the Oh Happy Day Spirituals from their album the Oh Happy Day Spirituals!

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We are in a Drought

In case you hadn’t heard.  For updates on “how bad [it is]” check out the California Department of Water Resources

I’ve had to seriously ration my bathing-for-relaxation habit.  Not soothing.

On the other hand, I feel I’m doing a good part of my “part” with my lavender and gravel garden (and never watering the roses that have survived on their own probably a good half-century).

If you aren’t a big gravel person, another great option for ground cover that is both functional for A Rockridge Life and beautiful is Fragaria chiloensis, or beach strawberry.  Some of my neighbors have used it in their gardens.  As I was walking by today I noticed that the little guys have actually starting blooming, in spite of all the dryness:

strawberriesAren’t they gorgeous?

I’m strongly considering it for the back garden that I’m currently reworking.

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I’m Watching: The Jewels of New York

The Jewels of New York is “a mission to uncover the hidden treasures New York has to offer and share them with friends through a collection of seasonal and local recipes.”  I discovered JoNY through the links page on ARL’s new fave blog Saipua.  I was immediately drawn in by the clean design and obvious appreciation for the finer things, specifically great-tasting and great-looking food.  I’m particularly impressed with JoNY’s recent “Last Winter Supper,” which consists of Glazed Rack of Lamb, Parsnips in Parsley Butter, and Warm Cabbage Salad.

winter-supper

Is it titled this to herald in the springtime on March 20?  Should we all separately, collectively recreate the JoNY “Last Winter Supper” in our home kitchens far and wide on the evening of March 19?  Yes!

And don’t forget dessert!  Rosemary whipped cream?!  The fresh new answer to yesteryear’s lavender- and rose-infused creations?  I’m in!

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