Amazing Pamplona

Published by Miranda Metheny — 10 years ago

4 Tags: Erasmus experiences Pamplona, Pamplona, Spain


I have spent the last semester studying in Pamplona, Navarra in Spain. The program was chosen for me, but after having traveled around Spain and talked to people studying in Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, and more place, I have just become more and more happy that I studied in Pamplona! It's beautiful, diverse, and, for the right kind of person, even exciting!

Diversity, Nature, Cuisine:

What I loved most was the diversity. Navarra is a tiny state but is full of incredible nature - to east the Pyrenees, to north and west smaller mountains filled with sweet Basque villages and caves (and you can hop over a few miles of the Basque Country to reach the Cantabrian sea! ), to south there are two amazing castles (Olite and Javier), a dozen monasteries, and the Bardenas Reales desert formations that make you think you've landed on Mars. If you prefer cities, within two hours, you can see Zaragoza, Vitoria, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Biarritz, etc...

Navarra is caught in a sort of crossroads of cultures, in the same way Spain is, but more compact. In the architecture, in the amazing cuisine, in the fiestas, in the way people speak, you can see the effects of both 'traditional, southern/central Spain', and the Basques. You have to try Pintxos (our version of tapas), and the chocolate pastries from Beatriz!

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Parks and Entertainment:

Pamplona has an extremely high ratio of green space to residents. There are dozens of cool parks all over the town, from La Taconera with its live deer residents, to La Ciutadela, which is a giant fortress, now popular for friends to sit around and drink all year round. If you like walking, you can follow the Camino de Santiago to Puente la Reina, or to Pamplona from Zubiri... or you can walk along the rivers of the Parque Fluvial over dozens of medieval bridges to the various suburbs and outlying villages. If you like nature you'll love it here - there is tons of mountain hiking, surfing, rock climbing, canyoning etc to do in summer, and in winter you can ski or go snow-shoeing! Both universities have a Mountain Club which makes such activities accessible to students who may not have their own transportation or gear. We have also all of the normal 'things to do' from back home - malls, movie theatres, an ice-skating rink, swimming pools, etc.

Things to do:

To my mind there was tons to do in and around Pamplona - more than enough to fill a semester! Every weekend there was something going on - a Club de Montana excursion, a seafood festival or medieval market downtown, sports day at university where you could play paintball etc, and so on. Travelling, both across Spain and just within Navarra and the Basque Country, is highly recommended. People are partying pretty much every night at the various clubs throughout Pamplona - you'll never be the only one out on the street. Although summertime is supposed to be fiesta time, even in the fall and winter there were several festivals in Pamplona where you could see traditional dances, parades of giants, etc.

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Transportation:

The only places where I haven't given Pamplona a full five stars are for weather, party, transport, and prices. The prices are not too bad, but they are a little bit higher than in the U. S. (outside of big cities) or Southern Spain. Transportation by bus is not bad, but I did really miss having a car, especially for exploring the small towns and nature of Navarre. Though it's not much of an issue, Pamplona doesn't have good connections by train, and flights directly to Pamplona can be pricey. If you want to travel far and wide during your semester here, you might be frustrated by that. But, it's very easy to get all over the north of Spain, the south of France, to Madrid or Barcelona, and even to Alicante by bus. A lot of people forget about the Basque coastal train, which you can catch in San Sebastian or in Bilbao to explore the villages on the coast.

Possible Weak Points:

Not everyone is happy here - some people call it boring or complain that we don't have a beach. I suggest looking at a MAP before you come - of course Pamplona is not Madrid or Barcelona, and if you are used to a huge metropolitan city, you might be a bit disappointed, but this is no fault of Pamplona's. The parties are better in Madrid or in the South, but this is still Spain and it was much more exciting than where I am from! As far as the beach is concerned - Pamplona itself is not on the coast, but in one hour you can take the bus to San Sebastian, which is probably the most amazing beach I've ever been to (and I've been all over Florida and the Caribbean Islands). Finally, the weather is not perfect but is really not bad, either. The weather was like summer until the end of September - we were still swimming and surfing through that time! Even in October and November there were really nice days where you could wear a t-shirt and have a picnic. At the end of November, beginning of December we did have a few weeks where it seemed to rain constantly, but for most of the semester the weather was good.

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Comments (4 comments)

  • Javier López 10 years ago

    Really god experience. Thank you for sharing!

  • Daniel Garrido Rivera 9 years ago

    Hey, really nice experience!! I found it useful, thanks for sharing mate!

  • Xältxä Uä 8 years ago

    Hola chicos/as! Ke tal? Yo Soy Xabier Urrutia, soy de Navarra y tambien estudio en la Universidad Püblica de Navarra! Este curso estoy estudiando tambien mi erasmus en Finlandia, y el curso siguiente, desde septiembre 2012 hasta junio del 2013 seguire estudiando en Pamplona!! Por lo ke kerria encontrar un piso con otros 2/3/4 o mas estudiantes erasmus y asi poder seguir mejorando mi ingles, y seguir con el ambiente de erasmus! Asike si estais interesados en compartir el piso conmigo, contestarme o agregarme al facebook: Xältxä Uä y seguimos hablando Un abrazo chavales!! ;)

  • Xältxä Uä 8 years ago

    Hi guys! How are you? I'm Xabier Urrutia, from Navarre and I am also studying at the Public University of Navarre! This semester I am studying in Finland like erasmus too, but the following year, from September 2012 until June of 2013 I will continue studying in Pamplona! So I would like to find a flat with other Erasmus students 2/3/4 or more and in this way continue improving my English, and also with the Erasmus atmosphere! So if you are interested in sharing the floor with me, answer me or just add me to facebook: Xältxä Uä


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