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Michael’s Travel Diary

Friday, 06 Jul 2007

Location: Pamplona, Spain

MapThe mighty Pamps pilgrimage started with half an hour of over time on Wednesday at work, an attempted hair cut that never took place as all the local hair dressers shut early on the Wednesday, and then a bit of a half hearted effort at packing my bags. A few emails later, and next thing I know it is after 9pm. Being the inconsiderate host that I am, I hadn't even thought if the other guys were hungry, but given they didn't get out of bed till after noon, I figured they'd had a late lunch anyway and could wait for me.

We headed out to Bedford Place and had a feed at Mumbai, the new Indian joint there. The food was pretty good, though finding myself having my second all you can eat Indian Buffet inside three weeks has my body questioning some dietary decisions of late. After the meal we headed next door to Orange Rooms for a round of mojitos and then decided to pack it in around 11. By 1130 we had walked home, and snagged about an hours sleep before a quick shower for myself and last second packing then we headed out the door to catch the bus to the airport.

The bus to the airport has been ingeniously designed with even less room than the aircraft themselves, thereby giving you the false impressions that the aircraft seating is actually rather spacious. The leg room was so minimal it wasn't long before the ass and right hammy were crying out in pain, and the plan of sleeping for the 80 minutes to Heathrow was thrown out the window.

Arriving at the airport stupidly early at 3 am, we had enough time to allow the security staff to practice cavity searches on us if they felt compelled to do so. Thankfully, even they were smart enough to be at home in bed. After wandering around trying to get away from the “Please Leave The Area, The Fire Alarm Has Been Activated” announcement that was being played on repeat at ear drum bursting levels, we made the floor in the Costa Coffee Bar our bed for the next hour or so. Unfortunately, some time after 4am the first staff members came strolling in to work and rather inconsiderately started setting up the cafe for the days trade. Those of us sleeping were awoken by bright lights and the sounds of chairs being taken off tables and dropped unceremoniously onto the floor. Probably a good thing we woke up when we did, the cold floor wasn't exactly doing wonders for my back, and being the running of the bulls, a peak physical condition is required. Having said that, a sleepless night isn't exactly ideal either.

Finally at 5am the check-ins opened, and we managed to get our boarding passes and check in our luggage, well except for Nath who's later flight meant that he had to check in his luggage later. A couple hours killed trying on different perfumes to cover the stench of homeless bum that I felt like and trying to decided if Duty Free alcohol is actually any cheaper at the airport than at the off-license, and it was time to board the plane.

It didn't take long at all before it became clear that the entire plane load of people were Aussies and they were headed to Pamps. Once again I was on the great Aussie piss-up trail... But this time, I was able to impress, or just make jealous, everyone else as they discussed what camp site they were headed to, and I just casually mentioned that I was staying in a serviced apartment. Nice, and I Like!

I met up with Richie at Pamplona airport and we jumped on the public bus from the airport, despite his intentions to catch a taxi. We did miss our stop, as the bus almost drive right past it, but we got our bearings quickly and doubled back to the apartments. Having an empty fridge, we headed out to get some Sangria to fill up the fridge, and a few cans of San Miguel. Coming from England, where we have had the dryest April ever, the hottest May ever and then the wettest June since 1914, it was awesome to get some predictability in the weather – 29 degrees and sunny as all buggery!

Last night was a bit of a quiet time. Milo and Karla fronted before we got back with the food and drink, then Nath FINALLY found his way here after sitting on the bus for too long much like ourselves. After a healthy dinner of frozen pizza cooked in the microwave, and a couple beers, we headed to the center of the old town to look at the Enciero, (Bull Run) the main town square and the plethora of butchers and bakers that turn their shops into shitty red and white clothes shops and dodgy back alley bars. Now I remember why I love this place.

After wandering the streets and imparting the knowledge that I have from last year, no thanks to the people at Topdeck who were my tour leaders, we headed to one of the bars on Estafeta. A couple of beers there, and I purchased my 'costume' for the following day and headed back to the bar. Just the change we were lookig for. Eventually Scotty and his two brothers, Mick and Andy, rocked up and we switched bars to one that sold Sangria.

We headed home early, just after midnight and I forgot to set the alarm. Ooops! Milo woke us up an hour later than I had planned to get up and after a lazy start to the morning involving Corn Flakes and Red Bull, we headed to the main town.

Ahh, just like remember! Because we rocked up late, the town square was already PACKED. But not that bad. It was just after 11, and quickly Richie, Nath and I were separated from Karla and Milo. The bladder that Milo and Karla bought me came in handy as Nath, Richie and sucked the Sangria out of it slowly. We made our way to the middle of the square in front of town hall, and Richie and Nath started arguing about how packed it was. SUCKERS! I reckon there is a need to try the Croydon Rangers O-Line out at the bulls. If those boys could push the crowd back where they came from, we'd have half a chance of winning a game!

It was crowded as all hell. And by midday, it was f'n packed. Once again I was in a crowd that was moving left, right, forward and back, and I had no control of where I was going.... kinda like a wiggles concert. We finished in the square, and as the too numerous to count bottle rockets were being fired, we headed out to Plaza de Catillia to meet up with Karla and Milo. Along the way we ran into Scotty and his brothers again.

After grabbing everyone, I played the pied piper and headed to the Muscle Bar. Once again I thought better of jumping off the big piece of rock, as did everyone else, and I manage to leave the day without a broken nose – great effort. Finally we headed back to the apartment and took in the greatest thing that Spain has ever given us, aside from Rafal Na Dall, the siestsa! Headed back out to the main town now, and Encierro 1 tomorrow morning... will update once its over, promise!

Wish me luck-o