Spain is a fabulous holiday destination and the fact that a few years back it was the second most visited country in the world after France gives you an indication of its popularity. Its mild climate, its sandy beaches, its entertainment hot spots, nightlife and festivals ensure Spain remains a sparkling gem in the tourism crown.
Of the many festivals in Spain, it is the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona that pricks my interest the most. Apparently anyone over 18 can jump right in and take part. You just have to understand the few simple rules and abide by them.
I love risk and a challenge and the thought of running in front of snorting, angry and frenzied bulls that have been let loose on a sectioned-off course spelled excitement and daring. It is something that I've always watched on TV with deep fascination. This year I made sure that I had booked my turn for the Pamplona Running of the Bulls and July 6 to July 14 had been firmly circled on my calendar for me to get to the renowned San Fermin Festival.
There are bull run events in plenty of towns and cities across Spain, but it is the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona during the San Fermin Festival that is most famous around the world. I fortunately did my homework and discovered that during the Pamplona Bull Festival hotels in Pamplona can be expensive. As an alternative you can camp and there are companies that do Pamplona tours where they plan everything for you, including transport, tent and breakfast. I was booked into a hotel known as Gran Hotel La Perla which was a perfect choice for me simply because it had a balcony and looked down on the TTT, the very road where the bulls would come thundering by.
The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona is a totally chaotic experience, some would say it is for the insane. I wanted to be insane just this once, envisioning the faces of friends and family back home when I relayed the events. One thing is for sure, my friend and I were intending to be part of the weeklong party and the ongoing flow of traditional sangria.
There is heaps to do in Pamplona during San Fermin and parties start during the day go on throughout the night. There are lots of trendy little bars and restaurants for you to catch a bite during the Pamplona San Fermin Festival but tapas is perfect for snacks to keep you going any time during the day and can be eaten hot or cold. Nobody can predict how events will turn out and this is the spice of the entire event. The running of the bulls takes place every day with each race lasting about three minutes and starts at 8am in the morning. There is different sorts of parades going on all throughout the day and fireworks happen every night around 11pm.
When it finally came time for me to run with the bulls, well lets just say that I sort of chickened out! However, I must say I was appalled to see people simply pounding over others who had tripped or fallen in front of them and opted to just be a spectator. I mean people have died in these runs you know. My friends and I stayed for the full seven days, which ended with everyone gathering at the City Hall and singing a song called “Pobre de Mi” or “Poor Me”, indicating that the San Fermin Festival was over for another year.
Pamplona is a great place to walk around and soak up the music, the people, and the atmosphere. The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona should be on your bucket list if you, like me, want to be part of something that is utterly unique and above all, enormous fun.