Thinking of using PP travel to do the Running of the Bulls in Spain? Here's what we experienced.
So we left London with PP Travel to head to Pamplona Spain. Did I mention that this was by bus? I wasn't quite ready for the 22 hours the bus ride to Pamplona turned into. One of the coaches broke down and another one had a rowdy stag party. Luckily ours was the "good" bus to be on. And we got to watch classics such as Van Wilder and The Inbetweeners. That is a bit of sarcasm. The Inbetweeners wasn't so bad, and in fact Lee really liked it. I however, could've done without Van Wilder. Enough said.
We had a pit stop on the coast in France. It was beautiful scenery and great to get to stretch our legs. Seriously, there is not enough leg room for long rides on busses! Although when I say pit stop, it was really more because one of the buses broke down and so they had to pull over to try to fix it.
They couldn't, however, fix the broken coach and our bus continued on our way leaving the broken bus and its passengers stranded. Later when we say the rest of the group at the campsite they told us that they waited 7 hours for a new bus. Glad that wasn't ours!
We made it to our campsite and relaxed. There was a corner store, restaurant, a beer tent, and a music tent with live music each night. Along with our tour group, there was another one as well as campers not part of a group. So there were a few hundred campers on our ground. And while it could've gotten super rowdy, it ended up being just a chill party site.
There was a river nearby and one of the days it was actually not raining, so we went for a swim.
The next day was the opening ceremony "Chipunazo" of San Fermin. At noon on July 6th, a rocket goes off signifying the beginning of the festivities. The attire for San Fermin is white pants and shirt with a red scarf. PP travel gave us a shirt but we bought pants in town. Before the rocket, you wear your scarf on your wrist. Leading up to noon, everyone then puts their scarves in the air. Once the rocket goes off, you put your scarf around your neck. (Well, once you're done spraying sangria on everyone around you, that is.)
Once you're soaked from the sangria, and whatever else you got sprayed with, it's time to walk the streets of Pamplona in search of water. On the balconies stand kids and adults alike ready to pour water on those passing underneath. Just look up and chant "agua" and you're sure to be obliged of your request. The favorites seem to be the people with the large buckets of water. There was also a chant when the passerby's did not think the water adequate, but I didn't catch the words to that one.
We spent the day just taking in the sights of Pamplona and the festival.
And then we rested for the run the next day.
At 4:45 am we were woken up to catch the shuttle taking us to our spots for the bull run. (Yep, I ran along with my husband.) We got to our position a little after 5:15. It wasn't crowded then, but our tour guide assured us that it would be. Our guide from PP Travel also gave us tips for the race. (Like what to do around dead man's corner.)
Waiting for 8:00 was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences. The crowd got intense. Then a few minutes before the bulls were to be let loose the police spread the crowd out. It was all you could do to stand upright from the pushing of hundreds at your back. Once spaced out, my thoughts were to just make sure that we didn't get singled out by the police as worthy of notice to get physically hauled off the course before the start. Which, we witnessed happen to a few people. If you are found to be breaking the rules (for example clearly intoxicated or carying a bag) you will be picked up and dropped over the fence. No question about it.
Before the start, they show a video with the rules with pictures and each offense and the rules in like 5 different languages. So people who were breaking them really had no reason to not know what they were doing was wrong. And after that video, they showed people getting gored during last years' festival. I could've done without that video.
There are four rockets that go off. The first signifies that the first of the bulls have entered the course. This was our cue to start running. The second rocket means all of the bulls are now on the course. The third rocket means that the first bull has entered the arena and the last rocket means that all bulls are in the arena and the doors are now closed. In between those rockets it's up to the runners to not get trampled on, or gored, or tripped, or any other number of things that can go wrong.
It was probably the most intense few minutes of our lives. When you hear people screaming and you know that bulls are right behind you, it brings a whole new meaning to life. We managed to finish the run without any injuries and we managed to stay together. Those were really our goals, or mine at least. I'm glad that we had this experience through PP travel, but if I ever go back it'll be as a spectator on a balcony.
Have you ever been? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.