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Pamplona, Spain

Just a quick note to let you all know I'm still alive & no longer in danger of being trampled by livestock.

As far as festive festivals go, this one was pretty damn festive. First of all, you have no option but to party until dawn, as there is nowhere to sleep even if you wanted to. A typical day starts at 5pm with dinner and a bullfight. Then 12 hours of swilling sangria & calimotxo (cheap red wine & coke) with a few thousand wassailers in the street, then a quick run with some bulls to cap off the evening at 8am, and off to the park to sleep.

I'm now in barcelona recuperating, and I've got to say that I've never appreciated a bed quite as much as I do now.

Anyway, rockclimbing season starts back up tomorrow or so, so It will probably be a few weeks before I can check my mail again.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 11, 1998 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Europe, North Africa 1998
tagged CertainDeath and SanFermin

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How to not sleep on the ground at the Running of the Bulls

Pamplona, Spain

Pamplona was founded in 75 A.D. by Roman general Pompei. The Casco Antiguo (or ancient city) has fantastic cathedrals, ramparts and moats - everything a city would need to it could survive and become a great city. The history is rich with Basque culture and language, Navarran food, and best of all, great Spanish wine.

Of course the best reason to come to Pamplona is the San Fermin Festival held every July 7th - 14th. When I came to Pamplona to run with the bulls, I didn’t even know there was a larger fiesta called “San Fermín.” I drove my rental car over the Pyerenees, picked up a guide book at a roadside tourist office, and stood in a lonely phone booth in the middle of Navarra calling hotel after hotel for accommodations in Pamplona. The shock of finding that there were no hotel rooms in Pamplona led me to the web. The first site that came up was www.SanFermin.com, which does have an "English" button (after a lot of searching), but unfortunately, the housing listings were all in Spanish (which I only speak very poorly). This year, there's a new site called www.PamplonaHousing.com that is all in English and has good advice about what to do.

There are expert bull runners who can take you over the entire bull run route and explain how best to avoid mortal wounds. Running with the bulls in Pamplona is a dangerous activity, but well worth the risk if you pay attention to the change it brings inside you. Facing up to death on the streets of Pamplona makes every other challenge in live seem trivial when compared to the running of the bulls.

So, if you’re looking for a hotel room in Pamplona, I wish you buena suerte. Most of the Pamplona hotels were sold out by mid-March for the running of the bulls. If you have a few friends with you and you need lodging in Pamplona, you might try that site. If you just have one or two people, this gets more difficult... hotel rooms in Pamplona are best suited for groups that size, as Pamplona apartments typically can accommodate 6 to 12 people.

Coming to Pamplona to run with the bulls was one of the highlights of my life. I hope you have an equally fantastic experience during San Fermín.

permalink written by  ozadvent on April 15, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Pamplona is my new home
tagged SanFermin, Pamplona and RunningOfTheBulls

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!San Fermines!

Pamplona, Spain

San Fermines just kicked off here in Pamplona, and the town is going nuts! It's just after noon, and already we're down 3 liters of Calimotxo from where we started. Just spent 10 minutes dumping buckets of water off of our balcony and onto the crowds in Plaza Del Castillo.

If you're not yet in Pamplona, get here. Now. I'll buy you a drink (or at least dump one over your head).

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 6, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Living in Spain
tagged SanFermin and Fiesta

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San Fermin Day Two - Family Style...

Pamplona, Spain

Day One of San Fermines was Huge. Thousands of wassailing wastrels in red and white packing the back alleys of the old town. Elbow to elbow carnage of spilled drinks and shouted enthusiasm. I need new clothes!

After a late night, we were all up bright and early for the Running of the Bulls. Carnage ensued, and eventually we made it back to the place in search of siesta.

Pamplona actually cleans up pretty well, and 40,000 gallons of water later the streets were safe for parades and marching bands. This is the part that makes it into the tourist brochures. It's actually pretty cool!

The sun is setting now, and spirits are starting to kick up again. There appears to be a crowd of lads in the square cheering enthusiastically for the Blogabond She-Squad on the balcony. I think I'll have to go investigate...

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 7, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Living in Spain
tagged SanFermin and Fiesta

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San Fermin catches it's breath

Pamplona, Spain

Pamplona has finally settled into its groove, and San Fermin continues apace, but somehow not as franticly as it was the first couple days. Everybody knows they're in for the long haul, and they're pacing themselves a bit better now. Don't get me wrong, it's still basically insane, but at least people have stopped peeing on our front door.

Caught the encierro from inside the bull ring on Day 3. It's standing room only at 8am, as the fighting bulls are put away and they start releasing younger bulls into the ring to play with the crowd. These young bulls have their horns nominally padded to keep them from poking through anybody, but they are still capable of tossing anybody that strays too close (or doesn't run fast enough).

It's a pretty simple game, really:

1. See how close you can get to the Rampaging Bull

2. Attract the attention of the Rampaging Bull to impress your friends.

3. Land.

4. Try to get up and escape before the Rampaging Bull tosses you again.

5. See how far you can remain from the Rampaging Bull.

The nice thing about Sanfermines mid-week is that you can walk around in the daylight and not be immediately doused with gallons of Kalimotxo. You may get smacked in the head by some guy in a big mask, but for them most part it's a pretty family friendly time. After the fireworks are finished at night, the place transforms back into party mode and you'd best just roll with it. We had 3 separate marching bands colliding under our window at 3:00 this morning. It's probably best if you don't plan to sleep much this week...

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 12, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Living in Spain
tagged SanFermin, Fiesta and Encierro

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San Fermin 2008!!!

Pamplona, Spain

San Fermin kicked off at noon today and the place is going nuts. We made it down to city hall, where it all starts, a couple hours early. Helen and Martin-on-the-couch sought out the high ground and found their way atop a bottle bin. I opted to remain amongst the people, and got thoroughly monched as a reward.

For a full two hours, champagne corks popped and wine flew through the air, along with various colorful liquids, flour, mustard, and anything else that people thought to bring along so as to make matters worse. People kept cramming in, packing the crowd tight enough that it was nigh impossible to swill Kalimotxo anymore. Crowds surged. The faint of heart were passed back overhead to safety. Finally, the mayor and her entourage stepped out on the balcony and launched the rocket that officially started the festivities. Somehow it ramped up a notch. I wouldn't have thought there were any notches left.

That was four hours ago. The place is a mess. My previously white clothes are mostly yellow, with a bit of purple thrown in. We're halfway through the week's supply of wine. I need a shower.

Gora San Fermin!

permalink written by  Jason Kester on July 6, 2008 from Pamplona, Spain
from the travel blog: Living in Spain
tagged SanFermin and Fiesta

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