How do you begin to describe a festival such as that of San Fermin, or the Running of the Bulls, in Pamplona.
It is one of the most infamous fiestas and rightfully so…I can say from experience there is nothing quite like it.
I have had the opportunity to experience this great festival from two different vantage points. The first was in 1997 with 8 friends from Boise (we are missing one in the photo, someone had to take it)! We all happened to be in the Basque Country at the same time and decided to meet up. Our day started at 4 pm and ended after 8 am when we saw the bulls make their way down the main street. Well I can say we all saw the bulls but maybe not all of us remember it.
It was hours of drinking and drinking and even more drinking. When we got lost, we would eventually make our way to our two-hour check in spot and drink some more. We all ended up with pink shirts and one red tie – to get full details ask those who where there!!!
This time, 17 years later…my experience has some similarities and great differences.
First and foremost, I am much older and because of that a little bit wiser.
The “Txupinazo”, which signifies the start of San Fermin is an experience all in itself. People of all ages, backgrounds and experiences can be found walking the streets in a white shirt, white pants, red sash and red scarf. If you are ever planning on visiting, don’t worry about not having the appropriate sash and scarf; you can buy them at each street corner for a mere 5 euros.
Fully adorned in red and white, my former roommate, Esther Ciganda and I made our way to her aunt’s store where we would be meeting dozens of her family members for lunch.
We dined including lips and intestine! Yep you read it correctly – lips and intestine!
To wash down our meal, we enjoyed wine, beer and kalimotxos!!
While others packed the streets we were in no rush, as we waited until the last minute to step out of the store doors and enter a world of great celebration.
Throughout the hours leading up to the Txupinazo I wondered why the locals, or really anyone for that matter, had their scarfs wrapped around their wrists and not their necks. It wasn’t hot, I thought to myself, it can’t be the heat. When I asked Esther why she wasn’t wearing her scarf, she informed me that they couldn’t be worn until the celebration of San Fermin had officially commenced, noon on July 6.
As we waited for the start, the crowd yelled, the music played and water was poured onto the unexpected from the homes above the streets!
And at noon, the festival had started!!!
Groups of locals and visitors followed bands down one street and onto another. Some went from bar to bar, while others looked as they had been partying for days as their whites had already turned purple.
Our group went from bar to bar and it was amazing how many people we knew, mixed in the thousands that were in attendance.
San Fermin is probably on many of your bucket lists. If you have the opportunity attend, I suggest you do. It is a party like no other and an experience of a lifetime!
I will be back in Pamplona this coming weekend, so if you see me…say hi and you can even buy me a birthday drink!
- Jaiak or Fiesta or Festival = FUN!
- My Maiden Voyage: Elantxobe part 1