I don’t want to sit here and wax lyrical about why I, a travel writer, adore the works of Hemingway, because I am pretty sure that there are hundreds of you out there who feel exactly the same. What I do want to discuss however is the mark which Hemingway left on the north of Spain, in particular in Pamplona. I have been lucky enough to visit many of the places which the author visited and allowed to inspire his work, from Cuba which of course inspired The Old Man and the Sea, The French Riviera which of course spawned the Garden of Eden and also o Kenya, where the great man wrote True At First Light. Pamplona is probably the location which Hemingway loved most, and I must be honest, I tend to agree.
It is generally believed that Hemingway visited Pamplona on 9 occasions between 1923 and 1927 and he would generally come f0r the famous San Fermin festival, which of course would see the fiesta of bullfighting with a touch of violence and plenty of drinking, right up the man’s street I should suggest. It’s weird to think that back then nobody really knew about Pamplona or San Fermin, and it wasn’t until he wrote The Sun Also Rises that the destination was really put on the map.
To be completely honest I went to Pamplona more for the idea of retracing the author’s footsteps than I did to see San Fermin, which like many a festival has been spoiled through the ages, now more frequented by young travelers with a bucket list looking to tick it off. I had hoped for a 1925 version of the place, but I was left slightly disappointed.
Plaza del Castillo
Thankfully there is a still a bit of magic in Pamplona and the Plaza del Castillo, the center point of The Sun Also Rises is still there in all of its glory, the place where of course all of the characters would enjoy their morning coffees and chat.
Right outside the bullring is where you will find the bronze bust of Hemingway, right outside one of his favorite haunts. I sat with him for a while, speaking in my head as though he and I were sharing a delicious coffee and wiling the hours away. his magical author did as much good as harm in my view, he brought attention to some truly amazing places around the world and spawned a new type of traveler who wished to tread his footsteps, sadly most of us in turn went on to ruin the very places where he so dearly loved, or at least they were ruined as a result of our being there.
I have to be honest, Pamplona is a wonderful place to visit and knowing that the great man himself was here once upon a time is only something that thrills me more. Is it like he tells it in his books? No, is it still worth a visit? It most definitely is.