Pamplona, Spain (Running of the Bulls)

Pamplona, Spain (Running of the Bulls) (5/2-3/2013) – It is fun to visit Pamplona (Iruna), Spain, even when they are not having the famous running of the bulls. See below for more about the Running of the Bulls during the festival of Sanfermines.

Calle de Estafeta Where Running of the Bulls Takes Place Pamplona Spain
Calle de Estafeta Where the 
Running of the Bulls Takes Place Each Year
The Sanfermines festival is held during July 6-14 so no bulls when we visited – Wayne was disappointed. Instead of dodging raging bulls, we went Tapa Bar hopping on the same street (Calle de Estafeta) where the bulls run each year (see photos). Great fun!

Tapa Bar in Old Town Pamplona Spain
Tapa Bar in Old Town - Pamplona, Spain
Tapa Thursday Calle de Estafeta Pamplona Spain
Tapas Thursday on 
Calle de Estafeta - Pamplona, Spain
Tapas (called pintxos in Pamplona) are made of various things. We were fortunate to visit during Pintxos week where many bars were demonstrating their finest tapas. We also enjoyed Tapas Thursday where for 2 euro (less than $3) you get a tapa of your choice and a glass of red or white wine or beer (see photos). You fill up on about 4 of these and arrive back at your hotel feeling pretty happy. There are many good Tapa bars in Pamplona including Café Bar Gaucho, Bar Estageta, and El Mentidero.

Signature Tapa
Signature Tapa
Wayne Dunlap Tapa Bar Pamplona Spain
Wayne at Tapa Bar - Pamplona, Spain

About the art of eating tapas (pintxos)... Many tapas (see photos) are made on top of small pieces of bread or tiny half baguettes. Some are stacked high held together with toothpicks. Some tapa bars specialize in seafood and other have a mix of everything. Tapas are offered on top of the bar and you point to the one you want and the barman heats it up for you. You can also order wine or beer and pay up when you are finished. Sometimes tapa bars have specials listed that are made to order. Tapa bar hopping is normal and fun after having one or two at each place. We often made quick new friends and asked them what their favorites are.

Plaza Recoletas Pamplona Spain
Plaza Recoletas - Pamplona, Spain
Pamplona, with a population of about 200,000, is a beautiful ‘green’ city with a beautiful medieval city center, an impressive citadel, good food and wines, and lots of parks. It is surrounded by large green parks including Parque de La Taconera that is one of the nicest city parks in Europe with deer, peacocks, ducks, and swans living in moat around the wall. Don’t miss the beautiful flowered Plaza Recoletas (see photo).

Tapas Pintxos Pamplona Spain
Tapas (Pintxos) in Pamplona, Spain
There is much to be enjoyed by wandering Pamplona’s narrow streets or relaxing in the huge green belt on the western edge of the city. Pamplona’s restaurants and bars have a growing reputation for superb tapas (pintxos) and a healthy Basque culture among young people makes the city alive.

Symbol of Camino de Santiago Pamplona Spain
Symbol of Camino de Santiago 
in Pamplona, Spain
Village of Anso Spain
Village of Anso Outside of Pamplona, Spain
Pamplona is also famous for being on the famous Camino de Santiago Christian pilgrimage, near the start where people called pilgrims take a month to walk over 500 miles across northern Spain leading to a church holding the remains of St. James (Santo Iago), the patron saint of Spain. We met a few of these pilgrims resting their feet.

We stayed in no other place than the Hostel Hemingway about a 10-minute walk into old town.

Running of the Bulls Pamplona Spain
Postcard of Running of the Bulls
About the Running of the Bulls... Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls (El encierro) during Sanfermines (Fiesta de San Fermin) was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. Every morning during the festival six bulls (toros) are released to run to the bullring where they perform bullfighting. Hundreds of brave or stupid (depending on your opinion) mainly men dressed in white with red slashes run along with the bulls (see postcard photos). It lasts about 3 minutes. Renting a space on one of the many balconies overlooking the event offers the best views.

Wayne Dunlap Want to Do the Running of the Bulls
Wayne Wants to Do the Running of the Bulls
The 8-day Sanfermines festival held July 6-14 is one of the world’s biggest and most famous festivals in the world with fireworks, dancing, processions, and much partying late into the night. With the amount drinking done, it’s a wonder that even more people are not injured each year.

Postcard Running of the Bulls Pamplona Spain
Postcard of Running of the Bulls
Since records started being taken in 1924, 16 people have died and scores have been seriously injured participating in Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. The 2012 event was considered a relatively safe one with ‘only’ four minor gorings. Concern has grown about the serious injuries and animals groups oppose the cruel tradition of killing bulls. A couple days before the Running of the Bulls, PETA organizes an anti-bullfighting demonstration called the Running of the Nudes.

Basque Flag
Basque Flag
Flag of Spain
Flag of Spain
The basic bull run started in the 14th century with the owners running along side of the bulls to hurry them along to the marketplace or bull-fighting ring. The same method was used to transport bulls to the bullring for the traditional bullfights held in Spain. Pamplona is not alone in this tradition. Other cities in Spain have their own running of the bulls during festivals in honor of their patron saints.

Please see our other 3 blog posts on interesting Spain:

San Sebastian, Spain

Canary Islands, Cadiz, Malaga, & Valencia, Spain

Ibiza, Cadiz, & Almeria, Spain

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