Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beaches and Bulls - San Sebastian and Pamplona, Spain

Where we will sleep

Camping Igueldo (Campsite)
How long? 7 nights
How much? €17.85 per night(2 adults, small tent, 1 motorbike)
Check in? 12 noon. We're coming 2.5 hours from Bordeaux, aiming to arrive around 3pm.
Check out?  12 noon. We have a big ride ahead of us, 6 hours to Benicassim. We need to get there as early as possible to get a good camping spot at the festival so we will be aiming to leave at 7am and make it cross country by 2pm.
Why we chose it? We were going to spend 4 nights in Lumbier, close to Pamplona where the San Fermin or Running of the Bulls festival is held, and then 3 nights in Javea, to explore Alicante and spend time at the beach. I wanted to stay longer in one place though, and San Sebastian is a beach town an hour from Pamplona, so we combined interests! There aren't many campsites in the area, and this one has a laundry, hot water showers and is close to the mountains, beach and city. If you're looking for it, the sign says Garoa, not Igueldo.

What we want to see

Pamplona Cathedral – The Cathedral of Royal Saint Mary is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the centre of Pamplona. There aren’t many other sights!
€3.60 admission
Opening Hours 9am-1.30pm and 6-8pm

San Fermin aka The Running of the Bulls - No we are not running, but we will happily watch! It all starts on 6 July at noon with Chupinazo, the launching of a rocket by the mayor. At 11pm there are fireworks with an all night party at Plaza Castillo. On the 7th we need to be in position at Cuesta de Santa Domingo at 3am to make sure we get a good view, and the first bull run occurs at 8am, over in seconds. Everyone wears white shirts and pants and red scarves, which don't stay clean for long!
€0 admission
Opening Hours as above

What we are expecting

From San Sebastian, I think our campground is outside town so I don’t have huge expectations. For some reason I’m expecting the beaches to be ‘dirty sand’ – the kind with shells or pebbles, not pristine and white. I expect San Sebastian to be very tourist-y, geared more towards Spanish tourists, on holiday from their own hometowns.

From Pamplona, again I don’t have high expectations. Funny, I had never thought about it before writing this out. If I were reading this I would be wondering why on earth I’m going. I’ve been obsessed with Spain since I was about 15 and I’ve always wanted to go to La Tomatina and San Fermin. We can’t make it to La Tomatina but we are perfectly timed for San Fermin. Maybe my low expectations are because I have so many years of build up. I don’t want to be disappointed! I expect San Fermin to be very busy and drunken and dirty. We have to be waiting in place from 3am to get the good spot for viewing the run but you only see it for a few seconds.

10 years of build up for a few seconds.

I’ve always wanted this though, so for me it’s worth it. To be able to say I’ve been to the Running of the Bulls, taken part in a festival the likes of us New Zealanders can only dream of. Such a young country doesn’t have traditions like this. It’s bigger than anything I can imagine and maybe that’s why it calls to me. I just hope it is as awesome as I’ve always hoped it would be.

Can you relate? I’ve done this before, done a thousand things just to say I did. Some were awesome, some didn’t live up to expectations. I saw Guns n Roses because I felt like I should, them being a big name. After I saw them live, they became my favourite band. I don’t know why I do it, maybe to validate my experiences? I don’t ever feel like I wasted time on them though. I think I just like hype and the magnitude of experiences I’ve heard about on TV all the way down in NZ.

Have you ever done something just to say you did?