• Doing my best Hemingway!

    The Encierro (running of the bulls) in Pamplona…

    Every once in awhile you have a “moment”, today I had one of those “moments”! I didn’t love waking up at 5 am and I definitely didn’t look cute in my white outfit with red scarf & sash (maybe I needed to channel Ernest Hemingway with his signature Panama hat!) but it was totally worth it.

    Arriving in the center of town at 6 am to find it already mobbed with bull-run eager participants, I needed to hurry before they starting closing the path to my balcony. I arrived and was greeted by the apartment owner and shown to my viewing spot only to discover I scored this balcony all to myself, maybe this was turning out to be a VIP trip afterall!

    I was one floor above the Calle Estefeta right where the action happens and the location was directly after the first treacherous curve of the route in which the bulls head towards the red doors of the stadium for tonight’s bull fight. I stood there in awe, watching the runners stretch and get ready to outrun the bulls while shopkeepers board up their storefronts.

    The crowd chants and sings, the street is swept for trash, and the formalities begin; Runners are pushed back by police, men in green polos arrive carrying sticks they use to direct the bulls if needed, local politicians walk and inspect the route, and this collective community in white & red is ready and anxious!

    At 8 am, you hear the gunshot and they are off! In a flash, the bulls appear and you see men tumbling, runners literally loosing their espadrilles, and even a few unlucky souls getting run over!
    I see one poor guy ‘s t shirt is literally speared by the bulls horn and he is being pulled the entire way into the stadium!

    What a rush! What a thrill! What a total “moment” I will never forget!

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  • Baby, you’re a Firework!

    I made it…Pamplona!
    Well after quite an adventure, the bus pulled in to Pamplona and I admit I got a little sappy…I cried
    a bit! I just couldn’t believe I got here and I never thought I would ever be in Pamplona. A rush full of all the emotions that this trip holds came over me. Travel is so special to me and the world has so much to experience and this is one of those infamous ones!

    Well, this town is over run with people EVERYWHERE…this is not just a running of the bulls but a 9 day festival named the San Fermin Festival. The streets are flooded with people dressed in white with red scarves cleverly tied at their necks and soaked in red wine that they pour on each other! I mean this is an over-the-top party, the likes of which I have never seen! A crazy mix of drunk & drenched revelers and a riot of free spirited fun.

    People are camping in parks, using outdoor bathrooms, and passed out in the streets just in order to be part of it all. I saw people from every corner of the world as well as every generation. The Spanish are so captivated by this age old fiesta that it’s telecast 24 hours a day on National TV.

    I strolled around to get acquainted and got off pretty unscathed…I got hit with a few slices of Sangria fruit and had sticky shoes, but not a drop of wine spilled on me, even though I was offered my fair share!

    I bought my mandatory white and red gear and headed out for a spectacular late night fireworks display…what a show!!!

    I will say it again, the Spanish do know how to PARTY! Tomorrow is the big day…The Running of the Bulls.

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  • Running to the Bulls!

    I arrived back in Barcelona and I must admit I am officially out of my element! No concierge, No guidebook, Nada! Today I am heading to Pamplona to watch the infamous running of the bulls (I don’t plan to get chased by them).

    I couldn’t be more excited, but I am gonna need a huge dose of positive travel karma in order to get me there! No chauffeur or red carpet treatment on this trip…this journey to see an event I have dreamed of experiencing is becoming daunting, even for an experienced traveller like myself. The trains are all full, the hotels are all full, and most of the viewing spots along the run are taken!

    I have learned that staying strong and not giving up is key when traveling…ask, do not be shy, try every angle, and most importantly forge on!

    I am not nearly as calm as sound, I was swearing up and down that confusing Barcelona Sants train station going from window to window until I figured out a way to get to Pamplona. The Catalan language is so hard to understand and finding an English speaker is very elusive! So here I go; I believe I found a 1 star hostel (yikes!), I am taking a train to Zaragoza and hopefully a bus onwards from there, and I think I even secured a tiny spot on a miniature balcony overlooking the running of the bulls.

    Pamplona here I come…I think I already stared down a few bulls in my effort to get there and not sure what the rest of the route will hold! I may just be fool hardy enough to put on all white, tie on a red neck scarf, and run with those damn bulls if I am lucky enough to ever get there!

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