There are still some days of Sanfermin 2016 remaining to be enjoyed but one of these days it will unfortunately come to an end. So, if you finish up all spent out and ready for a complete change, we suggest a nice getaway plan to renew your spirits. As the summer sun starts to roast us in earnest, we will head off to the beach at Mundaka (Bizkaia). Because they are holding a very appealing Festival there in which Kukuxumusu is also collaborating and taking part in with its drawings and other such like merchandizing stuff.
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It is pretty obvious that the Sanfermin fiestas are a big annual event for the city of Pamplona. The novelty lies in the fact that now someone has come up with a means of measuring the repercussion that such grand events have for each city that holds some such event. And it seems that the Sanfermin fiestas obtained such a high placing that only the annual soccer games between Real Madrid y Barcelona achieve a higher rating. Who were the voters? More than one thousands councillors and other such representative citizens from all the provincial capitals from around the state who responded to the study in December 2015.
At the stroke of midday on 6 July, the Mayor of Pamplona fires a rocket from the balcony of the Baroque façade of the town hall, the starting gun for seven days and nights of unbridled merry-making. On that day you should not be in Pamplona. The kick-off is mayhem at its worst: water gushing down from balconies onto eager crowds below, wine sprayed on passers-by, the eager and less eager alike, and inebriated Australians, for whom ‘Pamps’ is the first stop on their Grand European Tour, diving off the 20-foot fountain in La Navarrería into the locked arms (most of the time) of their compatriots below.
Sebastian Stone has a smile which is pleasing to look at. His name is Latin but his slanty eyes and the tone of his skin betray his Asian background. In fact, he comes from Taiwan, China. He is repeating his second visit to Pamplona during Sanfermin fiestas. He works as a tourist guide and he acknowledges that Spain is his favorite European country. “Here the people are the nicest and the weather is the best”. He explains himself in pretty basic Spanish. With him there are another 25 Chinese who have come from many different parts of the planet, from Shanghai, from California, from Taiwan… He wished to learn about the Camino to Santiago.
“In summer it is better than being in the south of Spain.” explains Sebastian. Among his group are four elderly people, several children, some youths … his first port of call has been Pamplona. They rented a balcony in City Hall square to enjoy for the first time in their lives the magic sensations of the Running of the Bulls.
All of the group have large cell phones with them – most of them Android and made in South Korea. They can’t stop taking photos. Some of them are members of the same family. One of the ladies stands out for her bulky and large size, perhaps she measures about one meter eighty or so. She explains to her kids with a strong American accent just what is about to happen at the bullrunning event. She is from Los Angeles, California. But, without a doubt, the curious people of all are the elderly ones, three ladies and a gentleman, all looking to be over seventy years of age. They seem to have just come out of some classy Eastern movie. What a pity I have no Chinese nor they any English.
Isabel, the local guide who Works for the local Company, Destino Navarra, which lets the balconies, is encouraging them to use all the space on the balconies, but most of them stay on the same balcony, the one at the corner of Mercaderes, and they don’t budge from there. While some of them understand English, it is not easy to talk to understand them. They have a strong accent and after several attempts with the same sentence, I give up. They have some coffee, eat some buns, they chat… without making too much noise. It is hard to believe there are 25 of them in total – it seems more like a dozen people or so. They don’t raise their voices; they move gracefully, they don’t fill much space…all in sharp contrast to the street below them with its noise and rowdiness.
¿Do you like to live in Taiwan? l ask Sebastian. “It is not bad, although the country is too small, he replies. An island of 383 km long, almost stuck to China and with only about 26 million inhabitants and lots of beaches. To get there from here would take a18 hours flight with a stopover in Thailand the Portuguese called it Formosa (beautiful island). Sebastian is dressed in a rose-colored tee shirt and black jeans. None of the group have dressed themselves in the traditional red and White of Sanfermin. Tomorrow they will head on their tour with a stop at San Millán de la Cogolla in the Rioja region. I recommend them to have a look at the bulls in the gas pens, but they don’t have time. They asked me how many bulls will run in the Running of the bulls and what happens afterwards to the bulls. They are surprised to hear my short explanation.
Finally, it is 8 o’clock and the three rockets go off. All of them prepare to watch with their cell phone cameras at the ready. The herd of bulls arrive amid the crowded runner. They pass so fast that there is hardly time to enjoy the moment. Inside the sitting room of the flat there is a TV broadcasting the event. Everyone gathers there to watch the live broadcast. The Chinese seem to open their eyes wide in similar style to the Japanese cartoons. Aaaaaaah, uaaaaaaa, they exclaim in unison. It sounds like a very sweet and innocent tone… What do they really think? What do they really feel? Do they think we are crazy? They will never have seen a live fighting bull in their lives before. Will you run in the Running of the Bulls when you grow up, they ask one of the children. “Perhaps, the child replies amid smiles and giggles and wide eyes after watching the bullrunning. They all together exclaim that the child speaks perfect English.
There are just another 47 days to go for Sanfermin 2012 and quite a few people have already done their work to ensure that they have a fun party in Pamplona for the 2012 fiestas. And that means that many hotels, as has been confirmed by the Sanferminbooking.com online booking agency, have already hung up the “No vacancy” sign for the first days of the eight-day fiesta. It must be borne in mind that this year the opening day 6th of July falls on a Friday and so it is easier to have just a weekend visit and manage to hit, not only the opening txupinazo scene, but also two running of the bulls and two bullfights over the same weekend. Even the balconies, which are managed by Sanferminbooking.com to see the Txupinazo and the running of the bulls on the 7th and 8th of July have already been booked up. Now the Sanfermin commercial campaign is already concentrating on the remaining days to exploit the attraction of these world-famous fiestas.
As for the national recession which has hit the whole State, and how it might affect Sanfermin, according to what Mikel Ollo – the person responsible for Sanferminbooking.com and Incoming Navarra-, says, “A drop in the bookings from within the State can be detected compared to the past several years”. However, states Ollo, “In Sanferminbooking.com, the drop in national bookings is being offset by the increase coming from international tourism, especially that which is coming from The USA, The UK, Japan and Russia.”