Wednesday, January 28, 2009

About CAMERAS at the CHUPINAXCO ceremonies on July 6th

If you insist on bringing a camera into this madness of the CHUPINAXCO, we suggest that you wrap your camera completely in a waterproof bag. Or, we suggest that you bring a waterproof camera, due to the huge amounts of champagne, wine, mustard, mayonnaise, eggs, or other colorful condiments and refreshments that participants throw upon each other!  We suggest that you do NOT bring your favorite, expensive digital camera into these crowds - your camera will either be ruined with the above mentioned champagne, wines, etc...or, the professional pickpockets may very well add your camera to their collections of San Fermín contraband!
More info on what to expect at the CHUPINAXCO will follow in another post.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some FUN FACTS about the CHUPINAXCO - Part 1

The CHUPINAXCO takes place at 12 noon, on July 6th, at the Town Hall, in the old city, Pamplona.  However, because this is such a monumental event in the SAN FERMIN festival, you can expect that all nearby sides streets are also packed with building-to-building-to-building revelers, all with varying degrees of wildly elevated BACs (Blood Alcohol Content).
The Town Hall Square (known as the Plaza Consistorial) measures about 2500 sq. meters in, you can imagine how crowded the square becomes when the estimated 13,000+ revelers attempt to take their spots in the celebration!  This means that about 5 to 6 persons are jammed into each square meter of ground space!

You must wear sturdy closed-toe shoes!  Don't even think of wearing sandals!! There is broken glass all over the ground - so, especially if you want to run with the bulls, be very careful that you don't end up needing stitches in your foot, or feet!!

The Town Hall Square, during the CHUPINAXCO ceremony, is NOT a place for children or older people!  Once you get into the unforgiving crowds at the Town Hall, you CANNOT get out, until the event is over and the revelers leave the Square. During the celebrations, you can expect that there is a lot of very dangerous pushing and shoving, called "surging" by the locals. It gets very hot in the Town Hall Square, not only from the warm daily temperatures, but also from the body heat generated by the huge crowds packed into this small area! You can expect that it becomes very difficult to breathe, especially if you are a shorter person! 

For the CHUPINAXCO, it is best to make reservations on a balcony in order to witness this spectacular event...and to be safe, at the same time!!  We have a very limited number of balcony places for the Chupinaxco, each July 6th.  If you have not done so already, we strongly advise you to contact us right away, in order to secure a balcony for you and your group! 

More FUN FACTS about the CHUPINAXCO will follow in Part 2.

How to Run with the Bulls - Part 3

If you have read parts 1 & 2 and are still interested then you may well be a candidate for a run with the bulls in Pamplona!  But before you decide to run, it is highly recommended that you watch at least one run first before you participate. Consider renting a balcony for the day before you plan to run.

Here is the next myth to dispel - you cannot run the entire course with the bulls.  Bulls run at over 35 mph and you cannot hope to keep up with the bulls for the entire course of the run.  So, you must pick your desired leg to run.  About 15 minutes before the bulls are released, the police break their lines and allow the runners to spread out along the course.  By now, you should have picked your desired spot and proceed to where you plan to run.

At this point, the loudspeakers of the town begin to broadcast messages to the runners.  You can feel the hair begin to raise on everyone's neck as the realization hits that yes, you are in the street, yes, bulls will be heading your way shortly and you are in a very narrow street and yes, this is really going to happen.  As the runners begin to disperse from town square there is more breathing room now on the streets and you can look around and see the different running styles that are about to take place.

There are those who head straight for the walls and have no plans to run.  They plan to just watch the bulls go by and say they were there.  Some stand in the middle of the road and begin to jump and stretch to get ready.  These are the lane runners who, once they hear the rocket, will pick a lane and run until the bulls catch them, then they will move to the side and allow the bulls to pass.  And, there are those who look totally bewildered and obviously have no clue what they are doing and have not done any research or preparation for this event.

Then it happens.  A rocket bursts loudly overhead signaling that the bulls are now out of the corral and heading your way.  Ah, the moment you have been waiting for is finally here - and total panic takes over the crowd.  People begin to run wildly or scramble for the fences with all color drained from their faces.  Now is the time to implement your running strategy - don't panic, just stick to your plan.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

With Reverence to SAN FERMIN - January 24, 2009

Blesséd are the Navarran winemakers, for they, too, shall spread joy throughout Pamplona!

Friday, January 23, 2009

With Reverence to SAN FERMIN - January 23, 2009

Blesséd are the SAN FERMIN funmakers, for they shall spread joy throughout Pamplona!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What are the DATES of the San Fermín fiestas??

The San Fermín fiestas officially begin at 12 noon, on July 6th - with the much anticipated "chupinaxco" rocket blast at the Town Hall.  At this moment, as Hemingway described, and as Michener confirmed, the old city of Pamplona "explodes"!!  The first bullrun is at 8am, on July 7th, with bullruns each morning through and including the 14th.  The San Fermín fiestas officially end at midnight on July 14th, with the "pobre de mí" closing ceremonies at the Town Hall. Be there!! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Run with the Bulls - Part 2

So, you have decided to run with the bulls and now know that you do not need to sign up, per the last post. So far so good. Here is what you can expect next.

Since you read the last post, you know that all runners gather in the town square, the ayuntamiento, at least an hour before the run. Thus, you are now packed into a small area between the wood barricades with about 3,000 other runners. There is so little room that everyone is standing up as there is no where to sit down. In addition to the Spanish and Basque languages, you will hear conversations of all type going on around you in about every language. At this point, everyone is calm but there is a nervous edge to the chilly air. You can feel the building anticipation underneath the calm at this point.

Don't be surprised to see policeman, at this point, wandering through and scoping out the crowd. They are looking for unsuitable runners. As I mentioned in the last post, while this is insanity and all hell is about to break lose in an hour, it is organized insanity and there are rules.

If you appear drunk, the police will eject you immediately. They are also looking for people carrying cameras or wearing 'helmet' cams on their hats. If they find that you have either, you will be ejected without question. If you have open-toed shoes or other inapproriate dress, you will be ejected immediately. If you are ejected, it is suggested that you not put up a fight or make any dispute with the police - they are very serious about their job and will not listen to any appeal. If you are selected for rejection, you are rejected - it is just that simple.

Remember, these are their prized bulls that the city pays handsomely for, their priority is the safety of the animals from the corral to the plaza. Next, we will talk about the last few minutes before the event begins.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

NUDE protests in Pamplona - July 5th!

Many of you have written to us, asking about the nude protests that have been taking place in Pamplona each July 5th, for the past 8 years! This non-violent event in Pamplona has grown into a protest of about 1000 naked, or at least semi-naked, PETA members - all of whom are true animal lovers and much concerned about the treatment of the bulls, during the San Fermín fiestas. Most of these kindhearted adults wear not much more than their red scarves around their necks and tiny bullhorns on their heads, and, consequently, they are quite successful in gaining lots of attention and international news coverage for their cause! The exact time and route of the protests are usually unknown to spectators - and even to the participants, as well! But, you can be sure that the protests will take place on July 5th - sometime in the late morning through the afternoon hours, in the old city, Pamplona!

Rumors ran rampant this past July, 2008, that the nude protesters were not going to come to Pamplona on July 5th, so as not to draw more curious tourists and money to the San Fermín fiestas. However, rest assured, there were indeed hundreds of nude PETA participants this past July 5th, scattered throughout the bullrun streets and around the area surrounding the Plaza de Toros, and, yes, lots of eager photographers did show up to record the events in high definition!

For more information or to pre-register as a nude participant, go to: Running of the Nudes

Run with the Bulls - Do I have to sign up?

The first question I get asked about running with the bulls is, do you have to sign up ahead of time to run? The simple answer is no, you do not sign up for the run but there are rules to follow. Here are the basics:

During the Festival, the bulls run every morning from July 7 - July 14. This is done in order to move the bulls from the corral at the edge of the old city to the bullring where they will fight that night. Since there is a bullfight every night of the SanFermines, then there is a bull run every morning.

Each morning, the police allow anyone interested in running to enter into the Plaza Consistorial, or town square in front of the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento). This is the only place that runners can gather before the run. All the rest of the unknowledgeable tourists spread themselves up and down the route of the bull run and are sadly disappointed when the police force them from the streets before the run begins.

The other runners are forced from the street so that the city can clean the streets before the bull run begins. This is done more for the safety and security of the bulls than it is for the runners. The city pays big dollars for these fighting bulls, and they do not want any bull to get injured during the run. If a bull were injured during the run, then that bull would not be eligible for a fight that night.

Next, we will explore what happens once all the runners gather in the Town Hall Square.

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Viva" and "Gora" - What's the Difference?

"Viva" and "Gora" both mean "Long live..."
"Viva" is the Spanish word, and "Gora" is its Basque translation! 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The "Txupinazo" - also called the "Chupinaxco"

We are now receiving dozens and dozens of emails each day, from all over the world, in at least as many languages!  One of the most popular questions we are being asked is:  "What is the 'txupinazo', anyway?"  "Is the 'chupinaxco' the same as the 'txupinazo' ?" 
The San Fermín fiesta officially begins at 12 noon, on the 6th of July, each and every year! In preparation for this huge and much anticipated event, the crowds of revelers begin to gather in front of the Town Hall, in the Plaza Consistorial, as early as 9:30am.....the square is quite small, and an estimated 13,000 revelers squeeze into this medieval Plaza - this makes for an estimated 5 to 6 persons having to share a square meter of ground space!  Just before 12 noon, Pamplona's mayor and members of the Town Council come out onto the balcony of the Town Hall - called the Ayuntamiento -  to greet the crowds and to officially announce the beginning of this year's sanfermines.  The announcement of "Pamploneses, Viva San Fermín! Gora San Fermín!" (Citizens of Pamplona, long live San Fermín!") is shouted from the balcony...the crowds shout back: "Viva!" and "Gora!"  At this moment, when the clock strikes 12 noon, the rocket (txupinazo) is launched and totally unbridled insanity commences!  Thousands of bottles of champagne are uncorked simultaneously - all over the old city Pamplona! - and, the revelers, who are all dressed in white, may now tie their red "pañuelos" around their necks.....the San Fermín fiesta has officially begun! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Welcome to Run with the Bulls Blog

While there seems to be a lot of information out there about Pamplona and the bull run every July, there is more information lacking than there is available. The purpose of this blog is to try to impart the detail about the festival of SanFermin and the running with the bulls that is not readily available. Will start to write more as time permits.

Ya Falta Menos!