Maybe you've read Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises? Perhaps you've seen the beginning of Billy Crystal's movie- City Slickers? Or maybe you've got a death wish and skydiving doesn’t thrill you like it used to? No matter what your reason, there is no doubt that running with the bulls in Pamplona is an adrenaline rush without equal.
It’s unclear exactly how and when el encierro, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain originated. As a celebration, the festival of San Fermin, the patron saint of Pamplona, is a religious festival, originally celebrated in October, possibly as far back as the 13th century. The bulls, on the other hand, traditionally were moved through the streets from the farms to the bullring, for the weekly bullfight. Over centuries, the two activities seem to have merged. The religious festival transformed into a more raucous celebration of music, dancing, bullfights, and alcohol, and became so popular that the city of Pamplona officially changed the date to summertime, to better accommodate the crowds. Since 1591, the festival of San Fermin has begun on July 6. Over time, the celebration has stretched from two days to eight, ending on July 14th. Today, the running of the bulls in Pamplona now attracts hundreds of thousands of participants and onlookers from around the world.
Cultural traditions are complicated issues. What may have originated as a noble tradition, emblematic of a country’s heritage, may now, in the 21st century, be seen in a different light. Rodeos, cockfighting, bullfighting – all are blood sports and are now judged with a more critical eye. In Spain, bullfighting has lost its popularity, particularly among the younger generation. A Gallup poll showed that only 8% of Spaniards consider themselves fans of the sport, and active protest groups exist in Spain and around the world. Spain’s own Minister of the Environment, Cristina Narbona, has publicly voiced her extremely negative feelings about bullfighting, and the city of Barcelona has banned bullfighting entirely. However, the popularity of the sport continues in France, Portugal, South America, and in China, over 13 million viewers tune in for televised bullfights every week.
Transportation Cost To Pamplona
Airfare: Only Iberia Airlines and its affiliates fly to Pamplona, via Madrid. Book early and watch for sales. The following prices are approximate.
- $1,200 to $3,000 – Round trip from New York City (LGA) to Pamplona (PNA)
- $1,400 to $3,000 – Round trip from Chicago (ORD) to Pamplona (PNA)
- $1,500 to $3,000 – Round trip from Los Angeles (LAX) to Pamplona (PNA)
- $25 – Taxi from airport into city center (ten minute ride)
If you are already in Spain, you can take the train, the bus, or rent a car to get to Pamplona. Reservations are highly recommended.
Trains: To get to Pamplona, you will probably have to change trains somewhere along the way, and schedules may be inconvenient. Most Spaniards recommend that you take a bus instead.
- $40 to $70 – Madrid to Pamplona (one way)
- $40 to $60 – Barcelona to Pamplona (one way)
Buses: You’ll find bus transportation between towns, villages, and cities much more accessible and affordable. Buses in Spain are clean, comfortable, and usually run on time.
- $35 – Madrid to Pamplona (one way)
- $38 – Barcelona to Pamplona (one way)
Rental cars: Book ahead of time and book online. Prices and selection will be better if you rent in Madrid or Barcelona, where you’ll find most of the major companies. There are European companies, as well, and some specialize in mini-cars – a good idea, considering the price of fuel. Be prepared for heavy traffic in major cities; take valuables with you when you leave your car, and good luck finding a parking space.
- $400 to $1,300 - compact car for eight days