The Postscript: Learning where to grocery shop

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By Carrie Classon


My husband, Peter, and I have taken off to Spain where we are doing none of the things one normally associates with foreign travel. Instead, I spent today buying a really good frying pan.

We are staying in a fifth-floor walk up in the oldest part of Pamplona, Spain, a city which is not generally considered a tourism hot-spot—but a place we decided we loved when we passed through last year while hiking a portion of the Camino de Santiago. We did not hike the entire 500-mile walk from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, but we did a chunk of it and, on our way, we passed through Pamplona. Peter and I are not generally the most spontaneous types, but we decided on the spot we needed to come back to Pamplona—not to visit its many churches or museums or historical sites (of which there are too many to list) but simply because we liked it and, for us, liking a place means learning where to grocery shop.

It really is fortunate that Peter and I met one another rather than marrying two unsuspecting people who might expect that visiting a 1000-year-old city would involve something more important than staring in awe at unfamiliar tomatoes.

“Peter! Did you see that tomato?”

“I know. It’s amazing. I think we better buy two.” This really is how Peter and I travel.

We rented the little Airbnb for a month (you get a discount when you stay a month so it goes from being cheap to ridiculously cheap) and were delighted as soon as we made it up the arduous five steep flights. There is a complete kitchen (minus a serviceable frying pan) and a little balcony overlooking the historic street where the bulls run in July. (I’m glad there will be no bulls during our stay.) The fall weather, after this unusually hot summer, is about perfect. And, while I’m sure I will get around to seeing a museum or two or finding myself in the basilica when the mood hits me, there is something wonderful about just… wandering.

Yesterday, we went to a city park where there were deer and peacocks and geese and roosters, eating day-old baguettes, all enclosed within an ancient wall. The roosters made a terrible rumpus (as roosters do all over the world) and the teenage boys imitated the roosters—as teenage boys do all over the world.

Then Peter and I had a drink overlooking a plaza where we watched a very busy group being shuttled from one scenic marvel to the next and I suddenly felt very happy.

I was happy I was in Pamplona—that I had this amazing opportunity to travel and write and get to know a place so historic and special. But I was also glad that, at this point in my life, I know myself well enough to know what I like and that I’ve found someone like Peter who agrees.

Because there isn’t a single, “right” way to travel, it is a wonderful thing to have figured out what kind of travel we like and be able to do it. While I certainly do not object to those who want to be on the road at the crack of dawn and fill every hour with new sights and wonders, I prefer the experience of being slightly lost for much of the day, the novelty of a foreign grocery store, the challenge of figuring out how to say, “cumin” in Spanish (comino), and the unparalleled thrill in finding a serviceable frying pan,

Till next time,


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