Summary of San Fermin Experience

Summary of San Fermin Experience

Hello All!

I have been without wifi for a week, but now I have time to make a second post about the San Fermin festival.

Should I run?

The main highlight of San Fermin is actually running 800 meters with 6 ginormous bulls. Before doing any research, I assumed I would just join the crowd and run with the bulls since that is name of the festival! My thoughts quickly changed after I read stats on the number of injured people each year. There is even a section of the run called “Dead Man’s Corner”…..yea, no thank you, I will not run. Instead, I opted to watch the bull run in the arena. After a crazy opening day, I took a 5 am bus the next morning from the campsite back into Pamplona. Once I got into the city, I realized all the hardcore people partied all night. Looking around the streets I have never witnessed a bigger mess in my life. It was clear that a huge party went on with broken glass, all sorts of trash, and masses of people in purple-stained white clothes and red scarves passed out on sidewalks.  The air had an aroma of beer, piss, and sangria – so pleasant. A part of me wish I stayed the whole night in the city to witness the craziness.

By the time we got to the arena it was around 6 am, and we waited until 8 am to watch the run! I was squeamish just watching the bull run, I couldn’t imagine participating. This one poor fellow, got trampled twice. When I talked to individuals who ran, they were positive that the guy died since he had no life in his eyes and filled the streets with blood. Luckily, after the official stats came in, we learned that the guy was still alive. The second part to running with the bulls is running around the arena with a bull or two. Watching people in the arena was quite entertaining, as people got lifted up in the air and slammed to the ground by the bulls. In a way I was rooting for the bulls, since they must’ve been so frightened with all these people taunting them. After an hour of watching, it was time to go back to the camp site and take a siesta. What a fun 24 hours!

Below is a summary of some of the highlights:

1) Craziest Thing I Saw – A guy held a plastic cup with a slit on the side. He poked out the tip of his penis on the top of his pants and started peeing in the cup, which made it look like he was holding beer. As pee entered the cup it would leak out of the slit and into the street. Mind you – this was broad daylight in the middle of the day, surrounded by everyone (including toddlers) in the city center when there was a bathroom with no line right next to him! (Bathroom pictured below)

2) Grossest Mistake – Sticking my hand in dog poop (beats not showering for 4 days)

3) Best decision – Took a day trip to San Sebastian to get away from the craziness. San Sebastian is only an hour away, and I highly suggest visiting for a day during San Fermin to relax on the beach and enjoy some pintxos.

4) Funniest moment – On our campsite there was an Australina guy who was consistely drunk. He would individually drink 2 to 3 bottles of vodka per day. When the campsite was getting mopped, he insisted that they mopped him so he could get clean.

 

Guide to San Fermin Festival – Opening Day

Guide to San Fermin Festival – Opening Day

I survived Running of the Bulls. Okay, maybe I didn’t actually run with the bulls, but being a part of San Fermin requires stamina, so I’d still like to say I survived the 4 days I was there. I highly recommend everyone to attend Opening Day of San Fermin, since it is a big celebration for all ages (although I’m not too sure if it is appropriate for toddlers, but they were there!)

History

The San Fermin festival occurs every year from July 6 – July 14 in Pamplona, Spain to honor San Fermin, a patron saint of Narvarna. Earnest Hemingway wrote a detailed account of the festival in his novel The Sun Also Rises, which popularized the event and attracted people from all over the world. Nowadways, the focus is less on the saint San Fermin, and more about a fun atmosphere of dancing, bull riding, and sangria.

Part 1 – Opening Day Highlights

The Opening Day of San Fermin tops my list as one of the best parties.  San Fermin doesn’t officially start until noon on July 6. The streets are already packed by 10 am with endless amounts of tourists, locals, and sangria. Below is a picture of me and some Kiwi friends before we headed into the center. We did not know what we were about to get into.

 

Dressed in all white. You can tell the festival has not officially begun since our red scarfs are on our wrists instead of around our necks.

 

Once we entered the center square around 10 am, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of all the excitement and energy…

…half full sangria bottles are being thrown in the air. If a person in a balcony catches the sangria bottle then they chug it and throw the empty bottle back at the crowd.

….girls climb on their friend’s shoulders and immediately get doused in Sangria. (If boys get on shoulders they just get booed)

….people chanting in Spanish and English jumping all over the place.

I take a swig of my sangria and join in the action.

Friends getting squirted with Sangria

The festival still hasn’t officially started yet!

 

By 11 am I already finished my first bottle of sangria. I leave the center to grab another bottle and try to meet my friends again before the chupinazo (rocket) is launched at noon. When I came back to the center, this was the crowd I tried to manage my way through:

There was no way I was going to find my friends, so I just stopped where I was and decided to befriend the people around me. For 30 minutes we were all packed like sardines, but the energy outweighed the discomfort. Finally once the mayor came out, everyone held out their red scarves waiting for the rocket to launch so that they can put their scarves around their neck and acknowledge that San Fermin has officially begun!

I spent the rest of the day with the two Czech boys that I was forced to meet since we were stuck like sardines in the center. The rest of the day consisted of dancing in bars, giving little kids high fives, taking short siestas by trees, and of course lots of sangria! By 9 pm, I was ready to head back to my campsite so that I could wake up early to watch the bull run.

New Czech Friends

 

Bull run post to follow….

 

 

For professional photos of San Fermin, check out this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/07/running-of-the-bulls-2015-the-fiesta-de-san-fermin/398009/

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