Navarra is one of the seventeen Autonomous Communities of Spain. We had the chance to cruise through the trails of the green heartland, which has an essence of an ancient kingdom. Many people come to Navarra to enjoy the amazing cuisine, while others aim to explore the historical links permeating through the territory.
The area is a curious place and full of mystery and surprises. Whether you seek to get some peace and quiet or take an adventerous trip, the many towns within Navarra aim to please all kinds of visitors. If you seek to get your adrenaline pumping, the Pyrenees Mountains and forests are 60 miles from La Ribera, the area that divides Navarra with Pamplona and its central zone.
Passing by the Pyrenees in our travel bus, I look at the high peaks, open meadows, and woods and realize what an experience these mountains would be. The land has survived wars, seen kings, and remains home to many Sheppard’s; the grounds are centuries old and not only will you give you a good work out, but will make you feel like you are traveling through time.
A walk through Pamplona, the economic and cultural center of Navarra brought us face to face with many pilgrims who were walking El Camino de Frances, the road of Saint James. With more than a month to go for many of them, it was nice to see their high energy and passion for their journey. Besides Pilgrims, we toured the plaza where the annual event, the running of the bulls occurs. The week of July 6th, when the running of the bulls occurs, the town population quadruples to one million people. Also, if you are in this area and appreciate Ernest Hemingway, be sure to check out Café Iruna, where Hemingway frequented. Also, next door, is a casino club, where local men gather together and play poker. The only catch is that women are not allowed. I guess Spain still has some strong macho traditions it holds on to.
The central zone is also a pleasure to visit. It is filled with fortresses, castles, palaces, old churches, and history. There are many areas such as the Tierra Estella (Latin for Star) that retain many of its medieval origins. We visited San Pedro de Lizzarra, an old church that dates back to 14th century and shows original work completed in a gothic, baroque, and roman style.
Finally, the Region of La Ribera, is a scenic landscape with home to a Natural Reserve of the Bardenales Reales, a desert like area. The food products from this area are considered unique throughout the world, but Navarra in general is famous for its asparagus and artichokes.