Pamped up

13 07 2008

OK, this will be a difficult one. I have been on holiday for a week with the Housemate and Dev, and now I have 2 problems, firstly I can’t remember most of what went on, as a lot of alcohol was consumed and secondly I have to try and avoid the moral debate of going to the Pamplona Bull run.

We had left for Worcester to pick up Dev on Thursday and we had a nice meal and a few drinks with Fatbob and Bimbo and headed to the airport in the early hours of Friday morning. After landing in the oven that is Madrid wh headed into the airport and the train, after much rolling of eyes from hotel staff we headed into the underground. We picked up the train where I found out that I had left my bag on the platform, so after a scary back track and a few conversations in my finest Italian to the guards (I know that I was in Spain) I managed to get it back with everything in it and we got to Hostel Pretoria in Madrid where we stayed for the night. We had a few beers in a bar where it turned out to be happy hour where we were getting 2 for one on large beers and carried on until midnight

JP, Strongy, Tupi, Dev, Garrett, The Housemate and Me sitting on the bullpen

JP, Strongy, Tupi, Dev, Garrett, The Housemate and Me sitting on the bullpen.

We caught the train the next day to Pamplona and watch the temperature slowly rise and found our way to the bus for the fanatics campsite. When we got there one of the first things we were told was that we could not use the word spelt M.I.N.E as the forefeit was 10 press ups. We got our tent and some food and then got chatting to 2 guys that would prove to be big parts of this weekend, Tupi and Strongy, a couple of Aussies from Newcastle and doing a spot of travelling. We got chatting about the Premier league (the international language of football never fails) and learnt that you had to get tickets to buy beers, so we loaded up a receipt with 10 each and headed to the evening party, which again headed into the wee small hours.

The next day was the opening ceremony so we headed into Pamplona and made our way to the centre of the city to the square, where at about 10.30, chaos broke out. There was Sangria being thrown everywhere, champagne was being sprayed all over the place water was being thrown from windows, it was amazing and so much fun. Then at about 11.50 it turned to hell.

The crush

The crush

The crowd before hel broke loose

The crowd before hell broke loose

There was a massive surge as thousands more people must have pushed in, I ended up trying to make my way to the exit of the square while having my face wedged between 2 south african rugby players and someone elbowing me in the back for 5 minutes. This was all scary stuff as the floor was covered in glass and people were losing shoes and the falling over in it. This really was a nightmare, I had lost everyone and was trying to get to the exit when a group of about 20 people went down just in front of me. The weight of the crowd was pushing nto them and you could see them being stamped on but there is not a lot you can do about it, except try to skirt round the edge and not stamp on them. Now I know that I can survive any mosh pit anywhere in the world.

After this I went to watch a few people jump off of the fountain (Crazy bastards, this is seriously dangerous, especially if you listen to the stories of what the locals do. I bought a carton of Don Simon (Sangria) and wandered around the town trying to bump into people that I at least recognised and managed to meet Tupi,

Mel in the gay pride poncho

Mel in the gay pride poncho

Dev, Tara and Mel who had managed to pick up a rather fetching Gay Pride poncho. We drank some more and then we bumped into Srongy, JP and Garrett.

Now what happened the rest of the night was a bit of a blur but when I woke up I was not necessarily in the best state to walk, let alone run, so we sat in the stand while Tupi went off to do his run. We sat in the stands and watched the band, then we heard the first signal that the gates were open, and then the 2nd that the bulls were on the course. The first few people came through the gates and then about 2 minutes later the first bulls came in, followed buy a big surge of people and then the 2nd herd came. The ring filled up as all of the bulls came through and then young bulls are released into the full arena, that run around like mad knocking people over and throwing them around, which is vicious stuff. After the arena we went back to the campsite and the 9 of us (Me, Dev, the housemate, Strongy, Tupi, Mel, Tara, JP and Garrett) sat talking all day over a few beers and a couple of half roast chickens.

Bull in the ring

Bull in the ring

The next day came and it was time for me and the housemate to run. We were up at 5am, to get to our place, where were we met up with a few other fanatics guys. We waited around for a few hours with the tension rising by the minute. Eventually the first firework went off, swiftly followed by the 2nd, by this time I was joging fairly rapidly up the main street, trying to find a clear path that wasn’t blocked by slow runners. From behind you could hear the hoofbeats and then to my left I could see the first herd running past me. I knew by this time that I would make it to the arena but I had to make it through the tunnel before the 2nd group got there. I put my foot down and tried to avoid the Spanish who were pushing people into the middle of the road. I got to the exit of the tunnel having to jump to avoid the guy that fell in front of me.

Geting to the ring

Geting to the ring

I had made it to the arena but I had to find the housemate where we agreed to meet. I found him, but before long, we had been scattered by one of the young bulls in the arena. The most scary point of this whole experience is when you have a bull staring at you from about 2ft away and wondering where the hell he is going to go. I stayed in for four of the 6 bulls and tried to get out, I was pushed back in twice, but then took a running leap at the fence and made it out.

I am glad that I did it, its been something that I have wanted to do since I was 12 and I am glad that I have now, will I do it again, I really don’t know, its possibly time to move on to other things.

After the run it was back to the campsite for last night drinks and me and Dev made it back to the tent at about 2am after saying that we were going to have an early night. We headed back to Madrid after that for a spot of culture, where we went to the Americas museum and the Museum Sophia Reina, the art gallery that holds Guernica the massive fresco by Picasso. This gallery also holds many of the most famous pieces by the most influential spanish artists such as Miro and Goya. But the best thing in the museum was the temporary exhibition of digital art, especially the works by Daniel Rozin whose software and mechanical mirrors were superb. They work by a small camera measuring the light and dark infront of it and transferring this to a set of switches that move different pieces around to create a shadow image of you. Incredibly geeky really but very cool.

Madrid Sunset

Madrid Sunset

Sadly after watching the sun set in Madrid by the cathedral we had to come home. Back to the harsh reality of the UK.

It was great stuff and I enjoyed every minute of it.



12 02 2008

I am going to give blood for the first time this afternoon, so I am a little bit nervous, but I think it should be easy enough, my arms resemble a tube map of London and so they should find a vein.

I’ve wanted to give blood for years ever since a friend did when we were about 8 or 9.  He was given a He-Man figure so my hopes are running high.  If not a cup of tea and a biscuit will do.  But still there are a couple more reasons, firstly I thought that it may be a good idea to know my blood type as I do a lot of travelling and thats the sort of information that may come in useful, but also as this is the Year of Living Dangerously, I thought that I would give something back. 

You never know, I might end up with it back again.


3 01 2008

Its a new year so I like many millions of people have started with a new set of resolutions.  Ive not gone for anything major like a job change, or moving house.  I have just gone for making the most of my time on earth, by doing things to get a bit of adrenaline pumping through the veins. 

So comes the Year of Living Dangerously.

Pamplona is booked, so I now need to get fit, I’ll be off out on the bike soon enough to get the lungs working again.

Apart from that I may take a night class just to get out of the house.  The other big change in my life is going to be that I won’t be going up to Worcester as much.  It costs far too much money, and as I need to start clearing the overdraft, its a good place to start.  Plus it may give me a chance to start meeting people down this neck of the woods.

So we will see where this takes me.