|We are on holiday after all... Ferry: Dover to Calais|
Monday afternoon we jumped on the bus not knowing that this would be the longest bus ride of our lives! After 2 hours, we were in Dover and waiting for the ferry to Calais, France. The ferry takes about and
hour and a half, and is much like the Vancouver to Van Island ferry. After that, back on the bus for about, oh, a 16 hour drive to Spain. OUCH. This would be the beginning of the sleep deprivation part. We stopped a few times along the way to restore blood flow and get 'nourishment'. I put that in quotations because the food available at the gas stations we stopped at was far from nourishing. We also did a little 'speed dating' to get to know our fellow bus travellers. Tuesday, just before noon, we pull up at our campsite, Lizarra Navarra. Out of the bus we pile and into the sea of tents that await. On go the swimsuits and we are laying by the pool in no time soaking up the hot Spanish sun!
Later in the afternoon, we get back on the bus and head into Pamplona for a tour of the city, a walk of the bull run, and some free time to explore and get our essentials for opening ceremonies the following day. At 9:30, we are back on the bus to join in the party at the campsite being thrown by the other tour group who is also at the campsite. Our tour company had about 300, and the other company seemed to have just as many. Needless to say, it was a noisy place!
We left the party a little early knowing that we had to get up, eat our free breaky, and leave for the opening ceremonies by 9:30am. This didn't matter much though since most of the rest of camp wanted to celebrate until well past 3 am, and tents offer little soundproofing. The sleep deprivation continues.
|Along the run route|
|I'm tough too!|
The town is jammed with people in red and white. Opening day of the ceremony is marked by huge crowds gathered in all of the town's squares. The rockets shoot off at town hall announcing the beginning of the festival. The people who have been drinking sangria since well before 10 am, now spray it all over each other, while kids toss eggs and flour and some toxic looking yellow drink as well. Some have even brought ketchup and mustard to squirt on each other. This is the most insane thing I have ever seen, but hey, when in Spain... We decided to join in. I knew these white clothes were going in the bin anyway!
|Riding the Bull!|
Running of the Bulls:
5:00am. Who wakes up this early?? We do, because someone is walking past all the tents with a bullhorn playing "Ole, ole, ole ole, wake up, wake up", over and over again. This might make you chuckle, now imagine it is 5am, you are lying in a tent freezing your ass off and have probably slept a total of 2 hours in 3 days, yeah didn't think it would sound so amusing any more.
|There go the bulls!!|
Our spot must have been a good choice because there are already people there. We squeeze in and wait the almost 2 hours for the run to start. People are pacing the route. The run route is cleared of rubbish by sweeper trucks and city workers and then the road is hosed down - this is why on the videos you always see people and bulls slipping and sliding. The cops show up and some paramedics to line the route. People are now stretching and praying. The safety announcements start playing. Now the cops are grabbing people, espcially anyone who is trying to take pictures, and pulling them off the run route - not today fellas!
All is over and we make our way for some coffee to warm up, back to the campsite for pool time and a sangria BBQ.
At the BBQ, Topdeck staff have made about 400 litres of sangria that is included in the ticket, along with delicious food. We know that this sounds dangerous and also want to make the most of our only good tanning day, so we go light on the beverage. Others, not so much. After pool time we shower to head into town for the fireworks and notice some guys taking care of their friend who is passed out on an airmatress in an empty campsite - at least they are feeding him water. Then we notice our tent neighbour, passed out in her tent in her own vomit. Lovely. We head into town dreading the bus ride with the drunks - luckily only one guy requests a barf bag just before we arrive in the city.
Everyone is tired from no sleep and a 5:30 wake up? Nope, more sleep-deprivation and night of shivering in the tent. What is sleep and why do we need it again?
Again, 5am wake up fun. Today we have decided we are watching the running of the bulls from the bullring. This is where the bull fights are held each night. We knew that the bulls we killed, but after hearing the details of how, we decided to skip the bull fights. But watching the run from inside will allow us to see the whole run on the big screens and the bulls and runners at the end of the run. We get some good seats and enjoy the atmosphere. This is a very tradional festival and there are definitely some mixed feelings towards tourists. One guy in front of us kept trying his best not to pass out, but the locals around him were not impressed until he finally got up to find others who he could nap on.
The stadium slowly filled, then over filled. There are no rules, no guidelines. People do whatever they want. We had a group of young teens in front of us clearly boozed at 7:30am, smoking and having a good time. Fights would break out and everyone would stand and cheer and whistle - no security in sight. The bulls and their stats are on the big screen, biggest today is 545 KG!!
|Bulls entering the stadium|
|Bullring: Seating capacity of almost 20 000|
|Someone`s gonna get tossed!|
What an adventure this was! This festival is attended by over one million tourists, on top of the locals already there. It is an amazing mix of tradition and tourist attraction/giant party. I am still dumbfouded over and over again by these festivals and traditions that are kept alive. It is hard not to spend a lot of time thinking "They would never allow this back home!" It may be dangerous, it may seem crazy, but it is tradition and despite the changing world, it lives on.