Spain is forever etched in my mind as the home of late nights, tapas, sangria, siestas and beaches. Spain’s regions are culturally different due in part to its varied history. We ran with the bulls in Pamplona, a once in a lifetime experience, if only because once you’ve done it you never want to do it again.
We flew into Barcelona spent the night and took a bus to Pamplona. It was a whirlwind journey of Northern Spain, as we crammed the festival and San Sebastian into just a few days. Running with the bulls was a crazy event. From the huge street parties with meter wide paellas, to the all night concerts, ridiculous number of young Brits stumbling around drunk, and the street performers (and pick pockets!) it was all a bit like Carnivale in Venice- more than your imagination can handle.
The highlight of course was the actual running of the bulls, which is over in about 5 minutes. After getting up to run the first morning, we learned to go to the Bull Ring with the locals and wait for the bulls, and want to be matadors to pour into the ring. While the streets felt like a drunken festival, the bull ring felt like a cultural event. We didn’t attend the afternoon bull fights, just the morning fights, where young bulls are set free in a ring to teach stupid tourists a lesson!
IF YOU GO: Pamplona’s festival runs for a week the middle of July. While it’s a fun experience, you won’t want to stay the whole week with nothing else to do, 24/7 parties get boring after a day or two. With more time we would have looked for Barcelona apartments to rent and used one as a base to explore Catalonia before heading further north to Pamplona and Basque country. Basically, you should plan your time efficiently in Spain, there’s a lot to see.