Pamplona – July 6th, 2009
Its up fairly early, about 8ish or something. Well early for myself when I struggle to get up at 9 or 10am. After a quick wake up shower – I don’t want to be in the line for the shower in the morning I whack on my white pants, white shirt, red sash and my panuelo around my wrist (you are not meant to put the panuelo around your neck until the mayor sets off the chupinazo and thats the start of the San Fermin fiesta). And scoff down some breakfast which is little more than some cereal, bacon and eggs on rolls plus some juice and coffee.
Then we wait around and psych ourselves up for the Opening cereemony. From what I hear this is meant to be absolutely crazy and nuts. Not to mention a lot of drinking and a massive food/sangria/beer fight that ensues, not to mention that my clothes will not come out of the thing as being white.
So we all pile onto about 5 or so buses and head off into Pamplona. Its a short but anticipated bus ride to get things moving. We get off at the bus station and make our way into the town square, getting supplies on the way such as a sangria drinking bag and plenty of sangria. Some others brought champagne and flour.
We make our way down the small cobblestone streets of Pamplona to the town square. We realise that the square is already truly packed out, and start to push our way into begin the festivities. People are already drunk, dancing and singing to nothing in particular. Balls are flying around everywhere. And people are being flung up into the air. Its pretty intense.
This whole partying thing continues for a few hours. Everyone still drinking and being doused in sangria. People still singing “Ole, Ole, Ole” and other spanish songs with people jumping around like crazy. It is a ridiculous experience. Something that I simply cannot describe to you on these pages. Such an intesne experience.
It gets rather crazy just before Noon, when the Mayor sets off the Chupinazo (a rocket to signal the start of the festival), when everyone pushes and goes crazy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, takes the paneulo off their wrists and holds it high in the air with two hands whilst shouting “San Fermin! San Fermin!”. As soon as the Chupinazo goes off, its carnage, people pushing and shoving everywhere, girls are trying to push their way out, whilst guys are trying to get in. So many people on the shoulders, and so many inflateable balls being smacked around. Definitely an incredible experience.
We all catch up afterwards and keep drinking our sangria and once everyone is there we decide to do the Encierro which is the spainish word for Bull run. We get up to the bull pen and go a little stupid pretending to be bulls. Before I notice the bull horn marks on the top of the bull pen. They are above my head, eep. We walk down and then see the damage of what happened in the main square, which is incredible. So many broken bottles and rubbish everywhere, but the waste patrol was out and already clearing it up.
We get to the very end where the stadium is. Its actually quite bigger than I imagined. And walking down the narrow streets has me wondering about the carnage that is going to ensue over the next week, or days for myself. Seeing Dead Mans Corner (a 90 degree corner where the bulls basically slide and hit the wall) is a daunting part of the course and one I intend to not run with the bulls at.
Along our walk we meet so many locals and spainards just wanting a good time. Everyone is sharing drinks and partying still. Its good to see this thing goes on, its amazing. We continue and join in, before making our way back to the bus stop to get back to camp.
A quick wash – try to get the pants a bit more respectable, I basically ditch the T shirt as its soaked with Sangria, and dry them on the roof of the tent. We all hit the pool up or doze off in a siesta. The rest of the day is spent laying about, drinking some more sangria or beer, a bit more swimming and a bit of food (I stick with a budget and go for baguettes) before being entertained by the other tour groups ‘dj’ and join in on the festivities with boisterous sing a longs to classics and plenty of table dancing. I try to crawl in at a respectable time as we leave at 5:30am tomorrow morning for the first bull run, but I think I failed miserably as I don’t get in to after 12 sometime.