Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pamplona - Spain

The Place: In the north of Spain (Basque country) the San Fermin festival is held annually for the running of the bulls, where everday from the 6 - 14 July the bull run commences at 8am and the festivities never cease.
Some highlights: Camped out in Ezcaba (15 min from Pamplona) with Tim, Steph, Alexandra and Carlos. Our arrival was momentous since it seemed the bus drivers were having their siestas - had to walk for 2 hours along the highway with our luggage to the campsite. Enjoyed fireworks and float processions on the eve of arrival. Soaked up the sun and enjoyed swimming in the camp's pool. Walked the streets of pamplona with its bands and parades during the 4 days there and partied till late during the nights. Watched a matador show which was cruel yet spectacular. The atmosphere was amazing (and so was the sangria - which ended up all over us). Ran the bulls on the sunday with Tim, had a balcony viewing the mon and ran again tues.
The run: The 1st time (8th July), in sheer terror, arrived in the arena before the bulls. Once all bulls are in they are herded out, and then 6 are released one by one charging into the arena to the cheers of the crowds. Half the fear was not knowing how long this would keep up for (roughly 40min) and the other half was knowing the bull was charging around dropping people like dominoes, out of sight because of the crowd. Got the hang of it and realised its better to chase behind the bull (so that he's in sight all the time) and then flee when he changes direction, then try to get behind him again.
The second run (10th July) was much more fun having picked up tips from the first. For starters actually ran with them in the street this time. Managed to touch a bull in the arena with my rolled newspaper and had one bull jump over me as I crouched with about 10 others at the gate from where they're released (they do this every time a bull is released and though sometimes someone catches a hoof I didnt see anyone get hurt).
Most intense adrenaline rush!! Will never forget!!