Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Dance, forget sleep, and other tips for Pamplona

Editor's note: Next week, we’ll be kicking off a summer travel special called Destination Adventure. It will be the topic of this week’s iReport roundtable on Thursday. Our first stop is Pamplona, Spain, a place where CNN.com writer Elizabeth Landau had an unforgettable time.

 

 

"Uno de enero, dos de febrero,

tres de marzo, cuatro de abril,

cinco de mayo, seis de junio,

siete de julio, ¡SAN FERMÍN!"

 

Like schoolchildren on a field trip, my friends and I excitedly sang this song on a bus from León to Pamplona in 2005. All I knew about the festival of San Fermín is that it involves people running with bulls, and that it takes place from July 7 to July 14 every year.

 

Here are some tips:

 

Dance, dance, dance. Pamplona turns into one big 24-hour-a-day party for the festival of San Fermín. Everyone’s dressed in white clothes with red bandanas, and everyone is there to have a good time. There is live music everywhere, so it’s a great opportunity to groove to the most popular Spanish hits. I remember dancing to Melendi’s “Caminando por la vida” around 3 a.m. at one of the outdoor concerts.

 

Don’t expect to sleep (much). If you’re making last-minute plans to go to Pamplona, don’t be surprised if you can’t find a bed. My friends and I didn’t even try. It seems like everyone sleeps outside in public places, or doesn’t sleep at all. In fact, Pamplona is the only place where I’ve ever slept in a public park. If you go this route, hang on tightly to your belongings. I slept on my purse, but at least one person from my group had his backpack swiped while he was asleep.

 

Running is risky. Every year there are serious injuries or even deaths among people who try to run with the bulls. In 2010 I spoke with Michael Lenahan who got gored in the leg by a bull; his brother got hurt in the left buttock. Proceed with extreme caution if you are planning on getting near the toros.

 

Check out the bullfighting ring. There are so many people stretching their necks to see over the fences that line the streets of Pamplona that it’s actually hard to see people and bulls running. My friend and I quickly realized this, and decided to go instead to the Plaza de Toros. With everyone pushing each other to get tickets to this event, it was almost as risky as chasing bulls in the streets. But we finally got our passes and made our way inside the enormous arena, which is the ending point of the bull run. There we watched hundreds of people run around the bulls.

 

Don’t wander off. One of the girls in my group didn’t show up at the agreed-upon time that morning. A half an hour went by, and she still hadn’t shown up. We all started worrying, and had no idea how we would ever find her in a sea of thousands of people, since she didn’t have a cell phone. Finally, she appeared – she apparently made some new friends the night before and lost track of time. Don’t do this to your traveling companions!

 

Check out San Sebastián afterwards. If you’re looking for a place to chill out after a crazy night in Pamplona, head about 51 miles northwest to San Sebastián, a beautiful small city on the Bay of Biscay where you can lie on the beach, admire medieval architecture and actually sit down for a yummy Basque meal.

 

Those are my top tips for visiting Pamplona. How about you? Share your tips for San Fermín with us below, and if you have photos and videos, upload them here.

 

-- CNN.com writer Elizabeth Landau

2 Comments
June 30, 2011
Click to view larena's profile

hi I have been there with my Family and believe me is a great and fun place experience,

I placed some pics of my nephew who was there this year 2011, great assignment thanks

July 3, 2011
Click to view jbilindad's profile

  spainish like bull fighting. Bullfighting is a dangerous sport, it can kill someone whenbeing mauled by Bull running towards you.

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