After being whisked over the English Channel, France and the northern coast of Spain by a cosy easyjet flight, I found myself being barrelled onto what I hoped was the correct shuttle bus to Bilbao bus station.
With the customary wailing child and stern faced Spanish women, with strands of grey running through their glossy black hair, I arrived at Bilbao on time for my second coach to Pamplona.
The developing and spaciously laid out city of Bilbao stamps its artistic authority on you as soon as you drop down into its valley: the brilliant Guggenheim Museum sparkles in the sun as its bronzed panelled curves catch the reflected light from the Nervion River at its base. It really is a fantastic looking building. I have read that its configuration is completely random but I felt that I looked something like a gigantic galleon skimming along the water, but then again maybe I'm romantacising it a bit as that's the type of doughy-eyed school girl that I am.
After my second bus trip (a two hour journey which I dozed away under my sublime sun hat) I arrived in Pamplona - the city of bulls - at 8pm. Pamplona seems to be a strange swirl of both historic and modern ideas. The Bull Ring Plaza Del Toros dominates the inner city and tacky bull franchise litter the souvenir shop windows that line the central street. Annoyingly, by a week I have missed the famous 'bull run' that takes place here at regular intervals! Not that I would particularly like to be running haphazardously away from an angry bull whilst flailing my walking poles, but it would have been tremendous fun to watch other people do it - from a safe distance of course.
My hostel is tucked in right next to the Pamplona Cathedral, a sandy, stone building which sits at the centre of a spider's web of streets lined with bakeries, cafes, gift shops and bars. Everything smells and looks incredible.
Settling down with a small glass of beer and a potato/quiche/parma ham thing that was glorious I watched a steady stream of locals and holiday makers go about their day as the sun shut up shop for the day. I've yet to see or hear an English speaking person yet so I'm stoically independent at the moment. So far so good.