I did not feel as if my own travel had truly begun until I went to Pamplona this weekend for the Festival of San Fermin or the Running of the Bulls. However, before my trip to Pamplona, I spent my Friday night at a concert outside the city limits of Madrid: Rock In Rio. The venue was one of the most extravagant I have ever seen. The venue almost seemed as if it was in the middle of the desert. The whole arena was filled with astroturf. There were multiple activities including a zip line, a ferris wheel, and chances to win prizes. Let's just say that I may attempt to bring Rock In Rio to D.C.
After a long night at Rock In Rio, I was ready to venture to Pamplona. It was a 6-hour bus ride that felt like a 10-hour bus ride with our excitement. However, once we arrived, we couldn't have been more enthusiastic about seeing the city. As we stepped off of the bus in our outfits that were white from head to toe, we set off to purchase our red neck kerchiefs and red waist sashes. This was not a tradition that only we were indulging in as tourists. The whole city from babies, to children, to parents, to grandparents were all wearing the same thing. It felt a bit eerie being a part of something with such a rich tradition.
Throughout the night we toured the city going from the streets where the running of the bulls takes place onto the party center which was filled with carnival rides. We had thought that at some point we would get some sleep, but we were wrong. As 6 am approached, Pamplona police began clearing the streets in order to set up the run. Fences were put in place to divide the crowd watching from the crowd running. Though I wish I had the courage to run, I could not bring myself to do it. By the looks, it may not have been a bad idea to watch. Two hours later, the run began. It was not at all what I expected. The runners go in groups in order for the crowd to be less packed. As they let them go, the crowd seemed confused because it appeared as if the run had begun four times. Shortly, we watched 12 angry bulls run by. Though I felt a bit of regret for not running, watching was almost as invigorating. I now feel that I am an expert on the running of the bulls. This is something I never thought I would ever say.