Thursday, 2 August 2012

San Sebastian Day Two-San Fermin (Running of the Bulls) Opening Ceremony

Hey Everyone,

I woke up super hungover  on the day of the opening ceremony and continued vomiting the whole morning. I met my other room mate Connie from Sydney this morning who seemed lovely and full of personality. I was so glad I was rooming with two really nice girls and we got ready for our bus ride into Pamplona. We were staying in San Sebastian which is around an hours drive on the bus from Pamplona and on this morning the Busabout crew had three coaches ready to take us into the opening ceremony. I was so sick I was vomiting on the grass while I was waiting for the coaches to arrive and vomited the whole way into the venue to the point of blood on one of the last spews. I was highly regretting going so hard the night before on the way into Pamplona and literally could not stop vomiting I was so sick. Poor Jadie saw me that morning and we sat next to each other on the way in and I couldn't even speak to her and catch up because I had my head in a plastic bag for most of the way :(

As we drove into Pamplona we were filled in on what happens during the opening ceremony of San Fermin by a tour guide who had experienced this festival many times before named Cooper. He was quite attractive and rough looking and his enthusiasm and casual nature made us all so excited about what were about to take part in. He told us many of the following facts about the festival which I found so interesting so I thought I would share abit of the tradition and procedure of San Fermin with you all.

San Fermin:
San Fermin or Running of the Bulls Festival is known of one of the most internationally know fiestas in Spain. Over 1 million people come to take part in this fiesta each year and it is held annually from midday on the 6th of July until midday on the 14th of July. The week long celebration involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is held in Honor of Saint Fermin, the co-patron of Navarre.  At Pamplona, Saint Fermin is now sometimes said to have met his end by being dragged through the streets of Pamplona by bulls and therefore the festival is held to keep people safe from the bulls of Spain.

 Everyone who celebrates San Fermin is dressed in the traditional white outfit with a red tie handkerchief (the “pañuelo”) around their neck. Some also have red sash (the “faja”) tied around their waist. The opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo. The rocket is launched at 12 noon on the 6th of July from a city hall balcony with thousands of people celebrating the act in the city hall square and other locations in Pamplona. The chupinazo has officially marked the beginning of the fiesta since 1941.

When we arrived in Pamplona Cooper told us that we needed to take a good look around the area we were pulling into on the bus as it would appear to be like 'butterflies in the grass' compared to what we would see tomorrow. As everyone piled off the bus I stayed on and continued vomiting and after awhile the bus driver approached me and spoke to me in Spanish and although I had no idea what he was saying I knew exactly what he meant as he layed my seat back and gave me some water, a tissue and a fresh bag to vomit in. He left the air conditioner on and I was so thankful for him helping me out on this day. I was so sick I was considering staying on the bus until it got closer to the offical opening but after I had layed on the bus for awhile one of the Busabout crew members came to collect me and show me the way into the main square. I carried my vomit bag along with me and continued to spew as I walked along lol 

When we got into the square I sat with Connie and tried to eat something and drink some powerade but that all came up as well much the amusement of some older men who said 'better out than in' to me as I spewed on the grass. I was hating life and myself for getting so drunk the night before but it was lucky that there was plenty of time until the official opening. When I was laying on the grass I saw Steven from Contiki walk past and I called out to him to say hello. I was so stoked to see someone I knew out of the hundreds of thousands of people there that day. 

We were given the option to buy 'bladders' which we could fill with sangria and drink like it was a water bottle or squirt at people. Lots of people were filling their bladders this day with alcohol and getting soaked in the stuff but I felt sick from the smell of it lol So many people travellers as well as locals were packing into one of the main squares to celebrate this ceremony and I was surprised at how many locals there were from all ages who dressed up to celebrate. There were people from all ages celebrating this fiesta from babies and little kids to elderly men and women. I could not see one person who wasn't in the red and white colours which was amazing but so hard to keep track of where people from our group were ha As it got closer to 12pm everyone started packing into the main square and I decided to head in even though I felt terrible as I knew that I would regret it and needed to remind myself that this was a once in a lifetime experience that I had been excited about for years now. As we walked in we were greeted by the riot squad who were checking if people had glass bottles or not and make sure their were no fights.

Luckily after I began to walk in I spotted the two couples I had met the night before!I went even deeper into the crowd with them to celebrate the opening of the festival. There were thousands of people in this tiny town square and not far from us people were getting squashed and could hardly control where they were moving because of the mass crowds of people gathering in the square. Locals were crowded on their balconies to watch the crowds of people and witness the beginning of the fiesta. Everyone was so excited and when the setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo went off everyone went crazy and starting holding up their pañuelo's and starting singing a traditional Spanish song. It was only at 12pm that you could put your  pañuelo's around your neck and they say that some Spanish people eat, sleep and shower with them on for the whole week. People were getting drenched in and spraying everyone in sangria. The locals were pouring buckets of water out over their balconies and getting right into the spirit of the fiesta which I loved. There were thousands of Aussies going crazy and spraying and pouring whole bottles of sangria over one another as well as all over the locals. Everyone was in such good spirits and no one was getting hostile at all which surprised me because if this was held in Australia there would be 'heroes' starting fights galore!I had to smile when I saw an older man using his detachable shower head to spray people over his balcony.

After the ceremony was opened people started packing out of the main square and into a bigger one just outside to continue partying hard well into the night and early morning on the following day. There were sooo many people and everyone was so drunk. The locals were all singing and dancing and people packed into restaurants and bars on the outskirts of the square and in the town of Pamplona to enjoy the celebrations. The most disgusting thing I saw that day, but explains how drunk people were was when I saw an Aussie guy from Fanatics (another tour group) piss in his shoe and then drink it whilst being cheered on by his fellow Aussie mates. Absolutely disgusting and some of the actions of Aussies in Pamplona were disgraceful. Aside from this I had so much fun watching all of the locals and tourists partying and getting into the festival. After awhile I went to get some pizza and then started to feel a little better thank god!

I saw a friend I had met through Rachel back in London at the festival as well that day and it was nice to hang out with her for awhile as we chilled out in the sun. When it was time for the first bus to go back into San Sebastian at 4pm I was ready to leave as were many others so they would be fresh for their first day of bull runs the following day. I sat next to Lorraine and Connie on the bus on the way back into San Sebastian and when we arrived we went straight to McDonald's for dinner before showering and heading to bed. Connie, Lorraine and I had the best laughs in bed that night about the antics and events from the opening ceremony that day and I felt happy to be in a room with girls who I really liked and could have a good laugh with. 
Opening San Fermin fiesta

Catch ups with Steven at San Fermin

Little Spanish locals getting into the spirit and pouring water from their balconies

In the main square ready for the opening ceremony to begin

People piling into the square

Straight after the pyrotechnic chupinazo was let off!

Sandra, Ali and I

Will loving the sangria being squirted out of the bladder lol

Street performers at San Fermin

Me with the couples :)) Matt, Sandra, Will and Ali

Me and Connie

Locals on their balconies :)

Haylee and I
San Fermin Opening Ceremony

Riot police on the way into the main square

The crazy couples from Aus

Aussies covered in sangria during the opening ceremony
Love The Sangria Covered Backpacker

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