Our road to Pamplona started out as a wild idea, after all, who has not dreamed of running with the bulls? (And what wife, mother or girlfriend has not dreaded it.) It is purely and simply a macho thing, Oh Yes, but also a dream I have had ever since reading Hemingway. He adored the run as much as I do.
I finally decided that even though I was over 50 and overweight, running with the bulls was still something I wanted to do. This was something on my bucket list that was due to be crossed off. I started searching for information, costs, and travel arrangements. The town of Pamplona is very small and standard accommodations are very expensive. However, there is another option. There are quite a few companies that run excursions out of the U.K and other countries each year. These are primarily aimed at backpackers and we did not really want to spend 4 nights in a small 2 man mountain tent.
I stumbled across a site from a backpacking company in London that not only had tents but also had very nice 6 and 8 man shared cabins at their resort. We settled on one of the cabins and booked our trip. It was surprisingly inexpensive and all that was left were the airline tickets which I got the same day.
At last, we boarded our plane to London. I had made reservations for 3 days of hotel rooms to acclimate ourselves to the new time before going on to Pamplona. We had a great three days in London, shopping at Harrods, London, visiting the British Museum, eating great Tai food, and going to two plays.
The day finally arrived and we were to meet the tour leaders above a tube location on the street. We arrived and found that there were about 200 kids, ranging from 19 to middle 20’s, ready to go with sleeping bags and backpacks. Before we left, there were even more than that, and when we did leave London, there were 16 buses crammed full of kids and us heading to the channel crossing, then through France and eventually to Spain. We met our tour leader named Petey, on boarding the bus. It was his 5th trip and he gave us great information on what to expect and took care of us for the entire trip. The weather was great the whole time we were there. With a day at San Sebastian beach, that came with your trip, it was well worth the fees we paid.
All of our traveling companions were from Australia and New Zealand and all were recent grads. They take a two year trip to London to work, party and see the world it turned out. All of them were great kids and took to us like a long lost uncle and aunt. We learned so much about their countries, they do like to drink down there, and it turned out to be one of the best trips I had ever planned.
We crossed the channel on a ferry, everyone went to the duty-free area to stock up on liquors and the party officially started there and went on for the entire trip. I do remember passing through Paris with the Eiffel Tower shining in the background and passing through a border stop between France and Spain before arriving in Pamplona then waking up at the campground outside of Pamplona. The campground came complete with pool, store, restaurant, and nightly live bands. The rest of the day was spent meeting more people (the campground had over 2000 visitors), and walking along the small river that ran past the camping areas.
A truly remarkable start to my dream trip of running with the bulls.
Part 2 Coming Soon