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Michael’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 08 Jul 2007

Location: PAMPLONA, Spain



hey everyone,

its our last day in pamplona for the running of the bulls so i thought i'd drop a line back to let you know how its been. well its been ace! we caught the bus here on thursday afternoon after a belter of a night on the drink on wednesday night. me and karla felt not too bad on the way here (it was only an hour) however a couple of friends that we made had been releiving the previous nights takings into various gardens and unfortunately in the girls case, into her own backpack on the bus.

once we arrived we sat around in the town square and had some lunch and a quick beer. we caught the public bus down to our apartment and eventually michael, richie and nath appeared after heading our for supplies, 3 bags of chips, half a slab of beer, a bottle of vodka, a few coke bottles and some milk and cornflakes. breakfast of champions! anyway as michael was here last year he took us into town and filled us in on however everything works with the running of the bulls and where to go. we came back and had a couple of quiet ones and hit the hay readying ourselves for the opening cermony the next day.

we woke up late the next day. and by late i mean we slept in 2 hours more than we all had planned to. after a rushed get ready session we headed in to the town square at about 11am. the official opening of the festival (the san fermin festival is at 12pm) we stand around in the town square which is now a washing machine. there are so many people in there it is tighter then the biggest mosh pit i have been in. we lose the boys while saying gday to a guy from busabout that we know and its just me and karla being swept into the crowd as people are pushing and everyone is just moving around in about a 10 metre squared space. basically people bring there own alcohol and just throw it up in the air. everyone is tanked before midday (similar to caulfield cup day). the fireworks are sounded to commence the festival. by the time we leave i'm covered head to foot in red wine and flour. hahah i taste delicous. following this we head into another one of the town squares to boost up the can intake and to meet up with everyone again.

after this we head the muscle bar which is basically a 10/15 metre statue that people climb up and leap off into the crowd in the hope that they are sober enough to catch them. most people are lucky enough to be caught. some arent so lucky. whilst i'm in the line for another can, an ambulance turns up to take a guy off to hospital. the biggest cheers are for the blokes who jump off the statue in the nuddy, however you'd hope you werent the bloke who would be catching his lollybag when he gets the people tryng to catch him. we come home at 2pm and i sleep til about 6pm or so. its a pretty quiet night for me when i head back into town. the lads give it a bit of a belting however me and karla are stuffed and get home to sleep.

yesterday we managed the quinella and unfortunatley sleep through about 10 different alarms to wake us up for the first day of the bull run. we're all really pissed off as we were all awake however couldnt take the next step to actually get out of bed. we head into the town at about 12pm and see whats happening. basically it is a morgue. there are pissed people sleeping everywhere who have clearly waitied up all night to run wiht the bulls at 8am. anyone who has jumped on to karla's facebook page will see the photo that pretty much summarises the state of some of the locals here. the weather is stinking hot yesterday. it was 37! i spoke to dad who told me he went to the footy that day at home and it got to about 10! hahah spewing i'm missing the winter! end up at back at the apartment at night giving the johnny walker a bit of a bash whilst reading a book about saddam husseins sons body double. nerdy i know but it was a top read. the boys managed to snag tickets to the bull fighting for sunday night as well as admission for me and karla to go into the bull ring on sunday morning for when the bulls and all the dickheads who run, run into the arena.

managed to all get out of bed this morning at 6am and head into town for the running. got to the arena at about 7:10 and left the boys in the streets hoping they managed to run into the arena without a bulls horn appearing where it shouldnt be. after waiting around (and having a couple of sangria's (red wine and fruit the local cuisine, i know its 7am but as the old saying goes, when in rome.....) the bulls leave their pen and charge towards the areana through the streets at 8am. a couple of tools from italy run into the arena 5 minutes before the bulls get there. they are greeted by 20,000 pissed off spainish people who unleash an array of bottles, cans and anything else they can thow. takes me back to the last game i went to at victoria park when scott cummings had cans of VB thrown at him from the social club. the run itself is only 800 metres and is mostly up a slight hill. eventually the buls arrive and run straigh through to the other side of the arena and into their other pen. there are literally thousands of people on the arena now. eventually a door opens a bull charges out and tries to clean up as many dickhead pissed tourists as possible and he is damn successful! its tops! this happens about 8 times as the bulls are lead off by a massive cow and a couple of minutes later another bull is released to pick up where the last ones left off. eventually we catch a glimpse of the lads who've made it safely. we learn later on in the day that the same cant be said for the australian guy who was gored during the run. he received the said blow straight to the "ringer" and was carted off to hospital.

tonight we went to a bull fight. WOW! disgrace is probably a poorly chosen word. those who know me well know i'm no nature man, however after watching this i think i'll be siding up with greenpeace! i always thought that a bull fight consisted of a guy dressed in very camp clothing, being chased around by a bull who had had his knackers electrocuted or hit a few times to get him aggitated. how wrong i was. basically it consists of the bull charging out whilst 6 soft "individuals" (i'll keep it clean so it gets through the email filter to work) wave their pink rags and hide behind a fence when the bull charges at him. basically their job is to make the bull tired. next these horses who have there mouths belted shut and their eyes closed (like some of the horses i bet on at the TAB sometimes) with a coupe of weak as water dudes on their backs come out and stab the bull with a spear. then the matador comes out (weakest of the lot of them) tries to stick about 6 or 8 spears into the bulls back. most of the time successfully. the bull is bleeding like a stuck pig. eventually the madator waves his head cape of toughness in the bulls face a few times whilst the bull tries to charge at him. the macho matador eventually finishes the job by sticking a sword through the bulls body and finally one through the head to finish the job. then a swag of horses cart the dead bull off the arena.

we're all sitting their shell shocked. this american girl sitting next to me looks like shes about to cry. abother bull comes out to get pretty much the same treatment except the matador was terrible so the bull almost got some good shots in. the third bull was the worst! he got the same spear treatment then got a sword through his neck and proceeded to bleed like i've never seen before before about 5 mintues before he falls over and dies. the spanish people cheer like the matador is a hero. we all sit there thinking he is the biggest, soft you know what we've ever seen. there is 6 fights in a bull fighting session. we leave after the 3rd pretty depressed and quietly. hard to belieive that 9 hours earlier we were in the same place with the whole crowd cheering for the bull and to come back and see them treated like that was pretty shit to be honest.

to make matters worse, we leave and as i'm leaving here a dance version of sweet child o mine by guns n roses. it was the ultimate kick in the guts. the boys stayed in town and we head home with a bottle of vodka to flush away any memories of this crap night out.

anyway we've got a balcony spot tomorrow overlooking the run of the bulls. hopefully some people get pulverised as a payback for the bulls. i'll certainly be cheering for them. i've had a ripper time here in pamplona its been tops. heading to san sebastian tomorrow for 2 night for some R and R before we head to paris for round 2. the first time i was there i thought it was a dump! we'll see how we go.