Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pamplona's Running of the Bulls

Pamplona is Spanish for PARTY ANIMALS!

These are the first two people we came across in the underground parking garage in Pamplona at 6:15 a.m. When we returned after at 9:30 a.m. after the Wednesday morning Running of the Bulls, they were still in this position.

First, you probably need to go back and re-read my last post about our day in Logrono.

At the time I wrote it, in our hotel's lobby in Barcelona, it was 12:30 a.m. on Thursday. I was a day behind in posting and was feeling the pressure of keeping my reading public informed.

I was so punchy from lack of sleep that I was starting to hallucinate!

If "El Generalissimo" Francisco Franco were still alive and running Spain, I am sure I would have told him EVERY secret in my head without any further prodding by his henchmen at this point.

The result was a very poor effort on my part, so I re-edited the Logrono blogpost for you.

On Thursday, July 9, 2008 we awoke at 4:15 a.m. after another late night. We were leaving at 5:00 a.m. for the one hour drive to Pamplona for Day 3 of the Running of the Bulls.

Our first issue is that car was almost empty of it's diesel fuel. We had planned on driving into the country Wednesday to do some wine tasting but instead walked around Logrono. As a result we completely forgot about our car's issue. No problem, we found a gas station on the way out of town about a mile from our hotel.

In Europe we have found that many gas stations are open 24 hours a day but they are not manned at night instead relying an ATM style machine that allows you to pay for your self-service operation.  This one rejected every credit card we had!

Our choices were to drive back to Logrono or continue on up the road to find a gas station that was open. We opted to press on based on faith and fumes. Forty minutes later it was Eureka! We found an open station, refilled (we had 3 liters left in the tank according to the rental car's manual) and proceeded to...


The first thing that struck me was how big and modern Pamplona was. I expected a small, old city based on year's of seeing the Running of the Bulls highlights. The old city area where the bulls run is typical but the new city itself was a surprise. 

Pamplona becomes a hotbed of activity every year from July 7, my birthday, to July 14 because of it's Festival of San Fermin and the traditional Running of the Bulls.


Although I didn't adhere to the official policy, Laurie, as always, blended in with the in-crowd by wearing white accented by either a red scarf, a red sash or a red beret. A very few went over the fashion top and wore all three!

For more information contact...

The Actual Bull Run!

We found people walking to the 8:00 a.m. start of the Running in a zombie-like state due to the all-night partying. It looked like a re-make of "The Night of the Living Dead"!

We parked in a nice underground garage only to find people either asleep, passed out or flat out dead laying on the garage's cement floor!

I took this picture from behind an identical wooden fence built to restrain the spectators. The area between the two fences becomes a DMZ during the Running with EMT's and police there for First Aid and crowd control issues..

We are in great shape!

Only one person in front of each of us, we should get a good view of the action but... 


We've got about 90 minutes to finagle our way to the fence itself. How to do it... 

A Runner

This young man is about to squeeze through the slats to join this morning's Run. That is how one does it but no one can get in the course after about 7:40.

Those are not red eye photo issues he is sporting, that was the real colors of his eyes after the all-nighter.
Tension Building...

The Australians Save The Day!!!

We lucked out, this is Terry, one of four Australians in front of us, who we befriended. Toby, Ben and Kyle were the others.

I got a funny, expletive laced video interview with Terry but I am having trouble loading it and another video of Wednesday's action. Click on this link if you want to see professional video of our day's actual Run.

Terry relayed to us that they had started drinking at about 8:00 a.m. yesterday, a.k.a., a 24 hour drinking binge!

Ben was the only Aussie not sitting atop the fence, he was too drunk and the fence was too tall but he wanted to run. His buddies were telling him not to do it.

I asked Ben about his potential Run strategy.
Are you faster than the bulls? No.
Can you out-manuever the bulls? No.
Do you know where to hide if you get in trouble based on scouting the route? No.
After a few more similar questions, I gave up and finally asked "How DO you plan to not become a statistic?" I'M SASSY!!!

Armed with SASSINESS as his only weapon, I think Ben made the right choice in passing out with his head lodged between the fence slats before the Run started.

Toby would fall off the fence top only one time before the Run started, not bad considering his condition.

Eventually Laurie was invited up to stand with them on the railing and I would use my shoulder to support her while wedging my head between Laurie's left knee and Toby's right knee.

Joe was lucky too, a Spanish girl of about 20 let him wedge his head between her knees to see the Run. Alcohol may have been involved in her decision making.

If you know this guy, get him to invite you to his balcony next year for a great view.

Joe after striking the deal with the Spanish girl.

That's Kyle behind Laurie

Ernest Hemingway tutoring the EMT's

The In Crowd

Post Run Action

The bulls and runners went by our post in about 5 seconds and it was over!

We walked back to the Plaza to see replays of he action on four huge video screens. No one killed, many trampled mostly by the other runners. 

Beautiful Pamplona

We have to find some food soon...

Laurie is now happy!

A croissant, a cafe con leche and a new red scarf. What more can life offer?

By 9:30 a.m. we were off to Barcelona, only a pleasant 3 hour drive away to the final leg of our Spanish Adventure.

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