Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are the BULLRUNS really dangerous?

Now that the sanfermines, 2010, are rapidly trampling upon us, many of you have written to us in the past weeks, inquiring about our own opinions about running with the bulls in Pamplona. Many of you have asked if the bullruns are really dangerous??!! We can tell you from the experiences of many of our Pamplona friends and family: THE BULLRUNS IN PAMPLONA ARE NOT REALLY DANGEROUS.....THEY ARE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DANGEROUS! Included here are two photos that tell the story quite well, results of the bullrun of July 12, 2007.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Which BUS do we take from the PAMPLONA train station to the OLD CITY??

Many of you have been asking a very commonly asked question:  From the train station, which public bus is best for transport to the old city, Pamplona?  The only busline from the RENFE train station in Pamplona, to the old city, where the sanfermines take place, is the Bus # 9.....You will see the bus-stop just outside the main entrance/exit of the train station....and, you can expect a short 10-15 minute bus trip into the old city, depending on San Fermín traffic!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

HOW to RUN with the BULLS - Part 2

So, you have decided to "run with the bulls" in Pamplona, and you now know that you do not need to "sign up", per our last post on this topic. 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 Hall Square, the "ayuntamiento", at least an hour before the run. Thus, you are now packed into a small area between the wooden barricades with about 3,000+ other runners. There is so little room that everyone is standing up as there is nowhere to sit down. In addition to the Spanish and Basque languages, you will hear conversations of all types going on around you in just about every language. At this point, everyone is calm but there is a nervous edge to the chilly air. You can feel the rising anticipation underneath the calm at this point.

Don't be surprised to see policemen, at this point, wandering through the streets 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 inappropriate 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 jobs and will not listen to any appeal. They probably won't understand your language, anyway! 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, and their priority is the safety of the animals as they charge from the corral to the Plaza de Toros. Next, we will talk about the last few minutes before the event begins.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some FUN FACTS and NOT-SO-FUN FACTS about the CHUPINAXCO Opening Ceremonies - 12 Noon - July 6th:

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 side 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 cannot even 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. Women and young girls report roaming hands on private body parts - unfortunately, due to the huge crowds, they cannot escape the ordeal until the crowds disperse - about one hour later!  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 upcoming Chupinaxco, on 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 and NOT-SO-FUN FACTS about the CHUPINAXCO will follow in Part 2.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Has any runner died recently during the bullruns in Pamplona?

Check out this video, which will clarify for you the dangers of running with a pack of six, wild, angry, frightened bulls through the cobblestone streets in Pamplona:


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 definite rules that runners need to follow. Here are the basics:

During the Festival, the bulls run every morning from July 7 - July 14, inclusive. 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 San Fermines, then there is a bullrun every morning.

Each morning, the police allow anyone interested in running to enter into the Plaza Consistorial, or Town Hall Square, in front of the Town Hall, aka "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 bullrun and are very sadly disappointed when the police force them from the streets before the bullrun begins.

Please note that at about 5:30am, revelers are forced from the street so that the city can clean the streets before the bullrun 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. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Today is March 3rd, and this means that we have officially climbed to the THIRD STEP of the San Fermín Stairway! First of January, 2nd of February, 3rd of is the perfect excuse to enjoy some chilled sangria, and to remember that the sanfermines, 2010, are rapidly approaching!! VIVA SAN FERMIN!

Monday, March 1, 2010

BEWARE! TRAGEDY in the BULLRING - July 7, 2006

Many of you have written that you are NOT
convinced that "so many" serious injuries
happen along the bullrun, or in the Plaza
de Toros (bullring) in Pamplona. 
Here is the account of one young man, whose 
story may well convince you that running with
bulls, or even "just" running from the vaquillas
in the bullring, can be a life-altering experience,
with permanent, life-damaging consequences:

Any questions?!