January 19, 2010

"SEE YOU IN PAMPLONA! " by Lola Akinmade

Those were the last words I heard from some Italians I had befriended in Barcelona the day before I was heading down to Pamplona. The odds of that happening were literally 1 in 1.5 million people expected to be reveling during San Fermin.

The San Fermin Festival (“Running of the Bulls”) is held every year on the exact same dates – July 6th to July 14th – come rain or shine. As I stood in an overcrowded bus from the train station heading down to Plaza Castillo, eager anticipation could be felt in the air. Strangers stealing glances at each other yet sitting quietly on that bus, knowing we were all going to be experiencing something we’d be talking about for years to come.

I was meeting the lady who I was renting a room from in Plaza Castillo. Hotels in Pamplona sold out 6-9 months in advance of the festival, and so, locals opened their homes to strangers, renting out rooms at prices comparable to 3-4 star hotels. I couldn’t have asked for a better location – On the fourth floor along the world-famous Estefeta Street which was the final stretch towards the bullring! My roommates ranged from young Mexican ladies to young Englishmen donning white Elvis suits and white Marilyn Monroe dresses. Later on that night, I ventured out to Plaza Castillo where Pamplona’s infamous nightlife thrived with my camcorder in tow. Needless to say, it was just the precursor to what I was going to be experiencing in the upcoming days... (click here to read full trip report)