Chapter Thirty Six - Pamplona

Trip Start Jun 18, 2013
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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AIRBNB Apartment

Flag of Spain  , Navarra,
Thursday, August 8, 2013

We have planned several excursions form Labastida. Today's drive is to Pamplona, capital of the Kingdom of Navarre. It’s also famous for the festivities of San Fermín, where bulls are set free to chase brave, but crazy people through the town. At least the bulls have their moment of glory in the streets of Pamplona prior to their execution by hopefully able matadors in the bullring. I hardly need to say that this festival became world famous after publication of Ernest Hemingway’s novel "The Sun Also Rises", a highly recommended read. We also have a personal interest, as our son Bryan ran with the bulls back in 2006, and lived to tell the tale!

Our route takes us through Logroño, where, as is the custom, we take the wrong road. Although Spanish roads are excellent, Spanish signage within cities needs much improvement.

Our first visit is to Estella. As we enter the city centre we are surprised to find heavy police presence. Has there been a revolution, we wonder? We are directed somewhat compulsorily to a ubiquitous underground parking lot. When we ascend to daylight we are astounded to find that virtually everyone in sight is dressed in white with red bandanas and waistbands. We have arrived during the town’s annual festival. It’s fascinating to wander through the streets appreciating the enthusiasm of the locals obviously enjoying themselves immensely. We cannot discover where the white and red clothing originates, but it is also used in Pamplona during the annual festival of San Fermín. It has to be something Navarran.    

Our next stop is Puente la Reina, a medieval town on the Route of Santiago. There are so many ancient well-preserved towns in Spain that one gets almost completely detached. (“OMG! Another medieval town!”) We will remember this place because we get soaking wet returning to the car in the parking lot. This is our only experience of heavy rain in Spain throughout our two-month odyssey.

In just fifteen minutes we arrive in Pamplona, and the rain stops. We have been really lucky with the weather throughout our visit, even though temperatures have generally been much higher than normal.

Arriving in Pamplona we find a likely parking spot in the shade and venture into this lovely medieval city (OMG! Another medieval city!). This town is milling with tourists, but our task is to follow the route of the marauding male cows.

The first stop is at the corral from where the bulls are released. It’s a bit of a let-down to find that today it is a parking lot. Perhaps they could release the cars to chase us through the streets. Not much chance as we soon realize that the streets used for the run are pedestrianized, where only bulls and people are allowed.

The first part is the most dangerous as it’s a narrow alley between high walls. The bulls are fresh and fast until they reach the town hall square, where they do a left turn and then a hard right to barrel down Estafeta Street to the bullring. The actual run takes about four minutes and is held for seven days consecutively. It takes Miryam and I about two hours, with stops for photos, coffee breaks and visits to souvenir shops. We would have been trampled and gored at our relaxed pace.

The sun finally comes out as we end our visit to Pamplona, enough to take a couple of photos of the Plaza Mayor. Pamplona is by no means just a bull run! It’s another medieval city!   
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Aida Tantalean on

Ya conocí Pamplona !!!!!!!!!! muchas gracias por este viaje virtual.
Muy buen relato ..............nos da la oportunidad de incluir estos lugares en
Una próxima visita......BRAVO. .........continúe.....

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