Posts Tagged ‘san fermin festival’

Running with (or away from) the bulls!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Topdeck’s travel blogger, Liana Szwajlyk, relives her first-ever (and only!) Pamplona experience.

Singing erupts from a sea of white and red. Viva San Fermin!! It’s 8.00am. The first rocket focuses my attention, a second signals the bulls are on their way. The sea is now moving. Slow at first but running, turning, now faster as the hooves descend.

“Why am I here?” This was the thought going through my mind as I prepared for the enierro, the famous Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The night before, I’d been cruising Pamplona’s bars, fuelled with Sangria induced bravado. “I’m a pretty fast runner” I thought. I could outrun a bull or two. “What the hell, I’ll give it a go.”

A few sleepless hours later, there I was standing – knees shaking – on Santo Domingo Road for what could have very well been the last day of my life. Waiting impatiently with a few hundred adrenaline seekers, my stomach churns and I now realise what actual fear feels like.

8.00 am: The sharp shot of the first cannon sounds. Some run already. Having absorbed the advice of every ‘expert’ I’ve talked to, I hold firm - until the second cannon. The crowd’s nervous tension is released as they take off.

People are yelling and hollering; it seems I’m one of them. As I start into a full-out sprint, I have a horrifying realisation: I can run only as fast as the people in front of me. At this moment, self-preservation takes over, and I switch from a running-in-sheer-terror tactic to a run-push, run-push strategy – focussing on nothing but the next step in front of me.

The roar of the crowd grows louder and the ground shakes as the bulls hurtle along the course. They’re coming. People manically scramble to save their skins. As I look to my left I realise I’m now running with the bulls, rather than away from them…

The next five minutes are a blur until the third rocket sounds.

The enceirro is over!

Happy to be alive and happy to be alive…did I say that twice?

As the bulls continued course (and are way out of sight), I decide that I’ve had enough adventure for one day and leave to share my war stories over many more glasses….well perhaps jugs, of Sangria!

Relief and celebration!!

Check out Topdeck’s 4 Day Pamplona Hotel trip and 7 Day Picador package.

WIN! Two places at Pamplona with Topdeck…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Enter our prize draw! To be in with the choice of winning 2 free places to Pamplona, just sign up to the Topdeck newsletter!

Win! Two places at Pamplona with Topdeck

Win! Two places at Pamplona with Topdeck

Want to know what it’s all about first? Read on as Topdeck Festival Manager Amelia Lawrence discovers there’s more to San Fermin than just running with the bulls.

As it nears noon on July 7th we are in the middle of Pamplona’s main town square – along with several thousand of our new closest friends.

Our group of a few Australians, South Africans and a Canadian has spent the morning celebrating with not only Spaniards but also people from all over Europe, as well as a couple of girls from South America.

As the clock strikes 12, the mayor appears on the balcony of the city hall to much fanfare, and sets off the chupinazo, a rocket which announces the start of this huge festival.

There are streamers, balloons, confetti, and not a small share of fire crackers bursting around us as everyone celebrates the start of another San Fermin.

Of course, for those who don’t want to be in the middle of a huge crowd, the opening ceremony is celebrated all over Pamplona’s beautiful city centre, including more spacious streets and squares around the town square. Here revellers have a bit more room to enjoy the festive atmosphere which pervades the whole of Pamplona, the music that fills the air and the excitement for the upcoming festival itself!

These squares are also a great place to meet some of the locals, who consider the day a family event. To see small children dressed in the traditional white outfits with just a splash of red is common place, and several generations can be seen enjoying the day as one large group.

As we make our way back to our accommodation, hot and sweaty from our morning of partying, the locals try to keep us cool, and clean us off a little, by throwing buckets of water from their balconies into the street.

Those who don’t are hounded by revellers shouting “Agua! Agua!” Under their windows until they relent.

By the end of the day we all feel as if we’ve run with the bulls already, even though the first encierro (bull run) doesn’t start until tomorrow. But it doesn’t matter.

Everyone is ready to party Spanish style, whether running with the bulls or just watching others try to. After the thrilling opening ceremony of San Fermin, how could we not be?

Check out Topdeck’s Pamplona packages for 2010.. still selling at 2009 prices!

Running of the bulls 2009, Pamplona - San Fermin Festival

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The world famous Pamplona Running of the bulls festival has always attracted a lot of attention and it’s clear to see why! If you missed your chance to run with the bulls this year there’s always next year to look forward too! Here’s a little taster of what kind of adrenaline fueled mayhem you can expect!!

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