|Subject: 2001 Easter in Aragon Spain|
here you have a longish travelogue about my holidays in the northern
part of Aragon (Spain).
Regards from Covadonga Bilbao - Spain
EASTER HOLIDAYS # 2001
This is going to be a very small travelogue, because most of what I did was trying to relax after the hard months I had behind me at work. I´ll be centered mostly in some practical details that might be useful for visitors to this part of Spain.
As I had a few days left from last year, I decided to head to Jaca with my mum, maybe go skiing a couple of days and relax. We left on Palm Sunday from Bilbao, in the bus leaving for Pamplona at 10:00. We arrived to Pamplona at 12:00, and tried to buy the tickets to Jaca, but the ticket office had already closed and it wouldn´t open until half an hour before our bus was due to depart (15:30). So we left our luggage at the station (300 ptas per bag and day), and headed into town.
The bus station is only 5, 10 minutes walking away from the Plaza del Castillo, the main square of Pamplona. Just beside it you will encounter Calle de la Estafeta, the last part of the bulls run in Sanfermines. We had a glass of mosto (grape juice, not alcoholic and a nice option for a Sunday pre-lunch drink) at the Café Iruña (one of the many Hemingway haunts located around Pamplona). Afterwards we walked around the old town and visited a couple of the churches. They were pretty crowded, being Palm Sunday. Many of the children had palms with chocolates and sweets hanging.
We were looking for a place to eat, and as we had seen that the Iruña had a set lunch menu, we thought of giving it a try. The tables for lunch and dinner are located on the right of the café. They begin serving at 1 o´clock, and we were lucky in getting the last free table at 13:15. But the service is very fast, so they didn´t have very long queues. We have chowder as starter, and as a main course mum ordered duck and I ordered lamb in a chilindrón sauce (it is a typical sauce from Navarra and Rioja, made mostly of red dried peppers). Both selections were quite nice. As a dessert, I opted for the cheesecake, and it was a bit of a disappointment. My mum´s homemade flan was much better.
So, we left for Jaca at 15:30, and when we arrived there we encountered the bitterly cold wind that was going to be with us for mostly the rest of the week. A couple of the days the ski resorts were closed due to the wind, and if not, we were getting plenty of snow, so I did´t fancy to spend a day in the slopes when I was looking forward to the April sun.
We watched the Easter processions (the drums in Aragon are really spectacular, and when you see such small children banging as loud as they can. Impressive), did long walks along the Saint James´ Way and some of the mountains around Jaca, and had a look at the preventive measures about the foot and mouth being taken in the frontier. They ask to every car that goes through if it´s bringing into Spain any meat or dairy produce, and if the answer is positive, they have to leave it at the frontier. Also, the car is sprayed with disinfectant.
On Easter Saturday we went to Huesca. It is very near from Jaca, but we had never visited it. We went down with the bus, and went straight to the tourist office. They have a free guided tour of Huesca, but I am afraid that it is only in Spanish. They had already left to visit the Museum, and they were due at 12 o´clock at the Town Hall, where the tourist office is located (just opposite the cathedral). So we joined there, and we got to see a picture about the legend of the Huesca Bell (apparently , one of the Aragon kings had some problems with the nobility, so he decided to show them who was the chief, and killed the most important guys and arranged their heads as a bell. This is a short version of the legend, of course). Afterwards we visited the cathedral. Really worth it, specially the wonderful alabaster main altar. We went down to a romanic church, San Pedro, with a good maintained cloister, and from then we finished down in the old romanic storeroom of a delicatessen shop in the old town. They discovered it a couple of years ago, and since then, they allow the tourist office guides to show it around. Our guide was well versed, both in the history and in things more profane, such as the behaviour of the storks#
And now to the main problem. Eating in Huesca. There are few restaurants, and they are quite small, so every place we tried it was full. We even thought of going to Lillas Pastia, a very expensive and experimental restaurant, but it was the same problem. So, we ended up sitting on a café and having some tortilla (thanks God for the eggs and the potatoes), and deciding to have an early dinner in Jaca.
We returned with the train. It was longer than the bus, but it was an enjoyable ride, watching the castle of Loarre and the Mallos de Riglos (strange mountains loved by the free climbers).
We weren´t very lucky with dinner. Our favourite restaurant, Serrablo, was full, and at 8 o´clock the earliest they could take us was 11 o´clock at night. So we tried a new italian restaurant, and the food was so disappointing, that we ended up buying some pastries at Echeto, one of the oldest patisseries in Jaca. They were still opened because everybody wanted to have their Easter eggs for the following morning. I love their Jaqueses, soft biscuit full with chantilly.
Next day was sunny and fine, so we went up to Astun, and from there we walked down the Saint James´ Way until Canfranc. It was a nice, lovely walk of 2 hours and a half. It has been well prepared by the people from Montañeros de Aragon, a walking club from Zaragoza, and we even had time to spend an hour by the river having our lunch. At night we went to a small creperie, El Breton, in the old town. Beautiful salads and gorgeous crepes, both sweet and savoury, and very cheap. They only open from 5 o´clock until midnight.
Easter Monday was again rainy and cold, so we decided to stay at home, pack our things, and get ready for the next day.
So# I slept almost 10 hours every day. We saw some interesting things, discovered the Aragon side of the Saint James´ Way, and got a cold after the strange weather we enjoyed.