San Fermin - The Running of the Bulls


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Europe » Spain » Navarre » Pamplona
July 6th 2007
Published: April 3rd 2008
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Running of the Bulls

Approximate path of the bull run... check out dead man's corner.. second to last corner..

run!run!run!

Dan, Leah, James and Hannah on the bull running statue
1 town: Pamplona; 2 colours: white and red; 3 days and a whole lot of carnage!

We’ve made to Pamplona for the San Fermin festival, Leah and I came prepared, and James has just brought his ‘whites’ ready for the opening festival tomorrow. We’ve met up with Leah’s friend Dan and the four of us are starting the festival the only way allowed: trying some of the local sangria, which is actually quite good!

Day One of the festival - The Opening Ceremony - if you can survive today, you can survive anything! Leah and I were woken up early by James who had already got dressed in his whites… to find he had accidentally brought 3/4 length girls pants, with cute little ties on the bottom!! Leah and I were in hysterics!!

We got some all important sangria and made our way into the square in front of the town hall, ready for the opening ceremony. From there, it was just madness! It was like a giant food fight, but with liquids… there was sangria, wine, champagne, coke and any thing else you can think of (including sauce - eww) being thrown around and splattered upon everyone…
BeforeBeforeBefore

Leah, Hannah, James and Dan looking white in front of Pampalona's town hall
and more and more people were joining the square until you could hardly breathe!

Leah and I got sangria in our eyes, so we couldn’t see as the crowd was swaying violently this way and that - I just gabbed the person in front of me and hung on until I could see again! Leah managed to lose her shoe in all the carnage, leaving her bare foot exposed to all the broken glass on the ground!

Right on mid-day, everyone holds their scarves up above their heads while the mayor bangs the large gong on the balcony of the town hall - The San Fermin festival has official started! And it also means we can now put our red scarves around our necks!

As soon as this was over, there was a mass exit from the square and we almost got completely run over! You didn’t need to put much effort in to moving, as the crowd was already doing that for you! However, in all the hustle and bustle, James and I lost Leah and Dan, and proceeded to spend the next two hours looking for two people wearing white clothes with a red scarf…
DuringDuringDuring

Dan, Leah, James and Hannah getting soaked in Sangria
amongst thousands of others who looked exactly the same!

Thankfully, Leah and I seem to have our heads screwed on in a similar fashion, and although not previously discussed, we both thought of the same random meeting spot! haha

Unfortunately, without her shoe Leah had cut her foot on the broken class during all the carnage, so James and Dan carried her back to the square where opening ceremony was. We couldn’t find her shoe, but we did find another, which actually worked better with the way her foot was wrapped up 😊

So with that mission sorted we headed over to ‘Muscle Bar’, where people climb a monument about two stories high, and dive into the crowd below… with the theory that they will catch them.
Actually, there have been more fatalities jumping off Muscle Bar than in the bull runs. The locals hate it so much they put vasoline on the monument to try and stop people climbing up. Personally I think the worst part is the ring of bollards at the bottom, if you landed on one of those you’d be in a pretty bad shape!

However, all of this had not put
AfterAfterAfter

Dan, Leah, Hannah & James survived the Opening Ceremony!... we were actually a lot more muddy pink looking than this photo shows!
off this years continuous stream of contenders, as we watched person after person jump into the crowd… assuming you made it to the top to jump off…unlike one girl we saw lose grip half way up and fell towards the ground like a folded sandwich.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city or sitting under the trees drinking sangria and chatting to random people. Its surprising how the time passes so quickly!

We had a rather early start the next day - like 6am! - to get into Pamplona for the first bull run of the festival. James and Dan wanted to run in it, while Leah and I were quite happy to agree with the local costume of ‘no girls allowed’. We sent the boys off to the start line while we tried to get into the arena… but all the free seats were gone and we only had €5 between us! So obviously that was not going to get us far. We rush around trying to find a spot where we could see the bull run, but the crowds had already gathered around the length of the bull run, and it was
The Town HallThe Town HallThe Town Hall

With all the dignitaries for the opening ceremony
as much of a crush as yesterday trying to get anywhere.
So we gave up and watched the race on the big screen in the main square, which actually meant we could watch the whole race instead of one part of it - and what a gruelling event with guys getting speared and dragged along by the bull’s horns etc - we were quite happy to be only watching!

We made our way back to the meeting place and were surprised to see James was already there! He said that because there were so many people trying to do the first run, the police came and made a line behind them and pushed every one out of the run that was in front of them. James said he could feel the police hitting people on their backs with their battens only a few rows behind him because the mass of people in front of them were not moving over the large barriers quick enough!

But alas, they do a bull run every morning for the two-week duration of the festival, and after another 6am start, James managed to get in the bull run, which seemed to be more
The main squareThe main squareThe main square

more people in white and red...trying to find Dan and Leah when everyone looks the same!
fierce than yesterday’s, with 11! huge bulls (obviously this run was aimed at the locals, not the tourists)

Leah and I were also more prepared and got almost front row seats in the arena. After a little while we heard the first cannon, the first bull is released! and then second cannon, all bulls are now out of the pen! Leah and I were now quite concerned for how James might be getting on in amongst all those bulls!

It didn’t take long for the people to spill into the arena, while the large bulls ran straight through into the pen on the other side - we were surprised to see so many bulls!

Once all the bulls were in the arena, the doors shut, leaving a sea of white and red people filling the floor of the arena. The locals who were brave enough, formed a human pyramid in front of the gates and waited for them to realise the first young bull into the area, with the theory that it will jump over them…which doesn’t always work!

It was surprisingly entertaining to see the young bull run through the crowds, parting them like the
Man PowerMan PowerMan Power

James and Dan carry Leah with her cut foot to try and find her shoe!
red sea, and time after time collecting people with its horns and flicking them up in the air, or dragging them along the ground. Even though its a ‘young bull’ its still got enough grunt and power to do some damage!

After a good dose of slightly sadistic entertainment, Leah and I made our way to our meeting point to find James - who survived there bull run!
He was telling us all about his stories and events while we walked back to the tour bus for our trip to San Sebastian.

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Aqua! Aqua! Aqua!Aqua! Aqua! Aqua!
Aqua! Aqua! Aqua!

The crowds ask for buckets of water to cool themselves down from the apartments above
Sampling SangriaSampling Sangria
Sampling Sangria

Cheers! Hannah, James, Dan and Leah trying some local Sangria - actually quite good!
Ouch!Ouch!
Ouch!

A guy gets tangled in the bull's horns
A Sea of White and RedA Sea of White and Red
A Sea of White and Red

People literally filled the streets!
Leah = TroubleLeah = Trouble
Leah = Trouble

Leah highjacking some guy on live television!
Main Square at NightMain Square at Night
Main Square at Night

People people every where!
Bull ArenaBull Arena
Bull Arena

Time to move!


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