Getting to Pamplona

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July 25th 2013
Published: July 25th 2013
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Beginning of Bull RunBeginning of Bull RunBeginning of Bull Run

The bulls start just downhill from here, and run uphill first, to gain momentum. There's a shine in the wall to St. Fermin, whose feast day the celebrations are technically about.
A day of many colorful memories. It really started last night when, because of a festival today in Santillana, the entire town virtually shut down, including my bus back to Santander this morning. So I had the nice people at my family hotel call up a taxi and arrange a transport back. A leap of faith because I was going off 3 main words: "manana," "aqui," and "ocho." But it must've worked because as I was waiting outside this morning at 8 a taxi pulled up, and out came this older woman named Gloria. She didn't stop talking the entire 30 minutes to Santander, and I think I followed most of what she said, and seemed to respond with something she recognized. But, who knows, she could've been talking to herself for all I know.

In Santander, on a drizzly morning, I took the 10ish bus due East, along the coast, first to Bilbao, and then to San Sebastian, which is just on the French border. From here I then caught a final bus South to Pamplona. The weather changed dramatically from the coast, and in inland Pamplona it was absolutely sweltering, probably around 95 or so. Then, though, right
Main SquareMain SquareMain Square

The festival begins with announcements from the upper balcony of this building. The bulls turn here and go right.
when I thought I could check-in and have a relaxing afternoon, I found that the hotel I had booked had randomly closed for the month. I was confused and disturbed for maybe 5 minutes, until I went to a nearby cafe, used their internet, and finally went down a couple of doors to a better place, where I'm actually paying less. Tonight, actually, once I looked at my email, I saw that my first hotel had emailed me a day ago, but I hadn't looked. They apparently had booked me into another nearby hotel - but I still got my money back and just moved on. Have to roll with the punches when you travel or you'll truly go insane.

So, at last settled, I spent 5 hours or so in Pamplona, a hot place probably most famous for its Running of the Bulls. This actually just ended on July 14th, and I think the town was recuperating because the entire place seemed shut up. Maybe it was the heat, but in the afternoon it was like a ghost town. So I basically had the place to myself as I walked the route the bulls take through town, visited
The Final StretchThe Final StretchThe Final Stretch

This is where people die. The street is so narrow there's no place to dive out of the way. You either make it to the end, or are probably gored.
the town's okay, kind of boring cathedral, and then enjoyed dinner and a coffee in the town's main square, in the very cafe Hemingway used to frequent when he came here. Hemingway loved Pamplona, and the bulls inspired him to write many of his greatest novels, like "The Sun Also Rises." A nice place, but you only need half a day here.

Tomorrow, at last, I head for Madrid, and for 5 days! spending the night in the same place. Ready for a rest from all this busing around.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Into the BullringInto the Bullring
Into the Bullring

The bulls literally charge right through the red doors and into the ring. Here they're ceremonious slaughtered and eaten. Seems barbaric to me.
Hemingway BustHemingway Bust
Hemingway Bust

Right outside bull ring. Hemingway first came here in the early 20s.
Running StatueRunning Statue
Running Statue

People are gored every year. But I think over like 100 years only 15 or so people have died. They run with newspapers to shield the bulls eyes.
Plaza del Castillo Plaza del Castillo
Plaza del Castillo

Biggest square in town. Hemingway loved to stay in the white hotel in the corner, the La Perla.
Nice Shade on Hot DayNice Shade on Hot Day
Nice Shade on Hot Day

Near the cathedral.
Cathedral Washing BasinCathedral Washing Basin
Cathedral Washing Basin

Monks would wash up here before going to eat in the refectory, which is behind me.
Ramparts ViewRamparts View
Ramparts View

Pamplona is in a hilly, mountainous area. The Pyrenees, which separate Spain from France, are really close.
Flowers on RampartsFlowers on Ramparts
Flowers on Ramparts

Can see part of the cathedral in the background.

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