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Preparing for the Festival of San Fermin 2013

Find out what you need to do to prepare for the July Festival of San Fermin 2013. And more importantly, the actual Running of the Bulls 2013.

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No amount of planning can prepare you for the Festival of San Fermin 2013 (locally known Sanfermines). Every year over a million visitors from around the world descend on the small town of Pamplona in Spain for 9 days in July.

The streets of this proud Navarre region are taken over with revellers adorned in white and red celebrating one of the craziest festivals in the world, the Festival of San Fermin. And most of them are only there to see, or participate in, The Encierro. Better known as the Running of the Bulls.

Running with the Bulls, San Fermin Bull Fighting Pamplona

Bullfighting at the Festival de San Fermin

Festival of San Fermin 2013

If there is only one festival you plan to go to in 2013 then the Festival of San Fermin 2013 should be it. It will be the craziest, scariest, most exciting and adrenaline fuelled few days of your life.

San Fermines 2013 runs between July 6 to July 14, as it has for the last few hundred years. The festival marks the celebration of Saint Fermin who is one of the two patrons of Navarre, and is also considered as a martyr in the Catholic Church.

At noon on the 6th July the Festival of San Fermin 2013 will officially begin when the chupinazoa ceremonial rocket, is fired from the town hall in Pamplona.

From then on it is one wild ride of sangria, bulls, dancing, fireworks and little sleep.

Festival of San Fermin 2013 Program: July 7 – 14 July

Every day after the 6th July until midnight on the 14th July, the San Fermines will run in the same fashion:

The Encierro or Running with the Bulls

San Fermin Running with the Bulls still

Still image from our video while running with the bulls

From 6am, those not tanked up on sangria and still able to run safely will start gathering on the narrow streets of Pamplona.

This was one of the most terrifying parts for me as the tension slowly builds in the crowd and you really begin to contemplate what you are doing. Nervous hugs, jokes and silence ascends on the crowd of locals and tourists standing shoulder to shoulder in the pale morning light.

If you have any second thoughts then this is the time to seriously consider if you want to put your life at risk.

Just before 8am the runners ask for the protection of Saint Fermin by singing a chant three times before a small statue of the Saint near the bulls corral. At 8am the first firecracker is set off to announce the release of the bulls. A second firecracker is quickly sounded which signals that the last bull has left the corral.

In total there are six fighting bulls that have never run before accompanied by six oxes that are seasoned veterans. These oxes guide the other bulls to the arena. Shepherds also guide the unpredictable bulls to ensure they don’t turn on the crowd. Although it does still happen.

From there it is a wild 825 metre dash along the narrow fenced streets of Pamplona into the bullfighting arena. As the first bull enters the arena a third firecracker is released before the fourth firecracker announces the end of the run now that all the bulls are safely locked away in the bullpens.

Festival of San Fermin, Running with the Bulls Video, Pamplona

Festival of San Fermin – Running with the Bulls

But that doesn’t signal the end of the fun.

Once all of the bulls have cleared the bullfighting arena, young bulls with their horns wrapped in padding are released into the bullring to cause carnage. Be careful not to get taken out, or the crowd will laugh! And whatever you do, don’t touch the bulls or you will be set upon by the locals who consider the bulls sacred.

Festival of San Fermin 2013 Street Party

Hopefully you survived the running of the bulls and came out unscathed. And that is lucky as this is when the Sanfermines Festival really kicks off. As the Running of the Bulls finishes, the Festival of San Fermin 2013 continues.

Everyone grabs their sangria filled bota bags (wine skins) and parties on the streets until the following run the next morning.

We always took this opportunity to retire to our accommodation for a few hours to catch up on sleep, go surfing in San Sebastian, and grab some delicious local pinxtos (tapas). We wouldn’t return to Pamplona again until the evening because we needed the rest as the party is unlike anything you have every experienced.

You will see scenes that astound you, but make you rush to join in.

Like the men with Firebulls, which are basically a paper mache bull with fireworks strapped to their backs, running through the crazy crowd. Children chase after them and everyone ends up covered in scorching hot cinders. Watch the video below…

There are also countless parades and street bands wandering along the cobbled stones singing and dancing with the crowd. The Spanish really know how to party. 

Bull Fights at the Festival of San Fermin 2013

Every evening from 6.30pm between the 7th and the 14th July the bullfights begin. The six bulls that ran that morning will be killed in the bullfighting.

The atmosphere in the arena is even crazier than in the street. I am not sure if it is the blood-lust or the sangria that gets the Spanish crowd so excited, but they definitely were enjoying themselves.

Just be aware that attending the bullfighting isn’t for everyone. I am not squeamish but by the killing of the third bull I had enough and wished they would finish each fight sooner.

We also appreciate the controversies surrounding the bull fighting and that post covers our thoughts on it which you might want to check out before deciding to attend or not.

Bullfighting in Spain, Sanfermines, Festival of San Fermin

Bullfights at the Festival of San Fermin

And while the Pamplona bullring is the fourth largest in the world, it is full every afternoon and tickets are hard to find. We managed to buy some on the gate a few hours before the fight but were lucky to snap some up.

Where to stay for the Festival of San Fermin 2013

Finding accommodation for San Fermin 2013 can be nearly impossible if you don’t organise it months in advance. We joined Busabout for their Running with the Bulls tour which proved ideal.

The Busabout campground is located about an hour from Pamplona. However they provided breakfast every morning as well as tents and transportation to and from Pamplona throughout the day, and night. Don’t miss the last bus at 3am or you will be there until 6am like our friends were.

What to take for the Festival of San Fermin 2013?

Festival of San Fermin, San Fermines 2013, Sanfermines 2013, San Fermin Festival 2013

Ready for action at the Festival of San Fermin

If you are visiting Sanfermines for the first time then don’t go along with any preconceptions. Have an openmind and be prepared to party like it’s 1999 all over again.

If you are visiting San Fermin 2013 with a company like Busabout, then you don’t need much else other than some sturdy running shoes and a sleeping bag. They will provide you with the tent, red bandanna, white t-shirt and extra tips on where to go and what to do.

While the days are hot in Spain, the evenings can be cold, so consider taking an old sweater that you don’t mind throwing out afterwards. The stink and stickiness of sangria never comes out.

Should I run in the Festival of San Fermin 2013?

Most definitely.

But be aware that this is a very dangerous and risky activity. 15 people have been killed in the Festival of San Fermin since 1925. While the last death was an American tourist in 2009 every year there are hundreds of people injured while Running with the Bulls.

Luckily most of these are not serious.

If you want more information and a full list of the activities during the Festival of San Fermin 2013, then check out the the Navarra Council website.

Or book your festival now!

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dale

    March 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    It was great to read about your experience last year as I’ve never been to see the spectacle that the whole festival must be with so many people all together enjoying themselves – but it’s still wrong in my eyes.

    I read last year your thoughts on how well the bull is treated in the run up to the fight, how it’s more of a dance and celebration of life than an outright blood spectacle; however, imagine it was a human.

    Take a human, put them at The Ritz, feed them with the best food possible, make them dance & dance around them as they bleed to death. It’s just not right.

    And, I know it’s just my personal opinion, I’m sure there are many who would love the opportunity to run alongside you, but it’s just not for me, Cole.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Thanks Dale for your comment. One of the reasons we write this blog is to hear from fellow travellers and get their perspectives on various things we do. I completely understand your feelings and so glad you have shared your personal feelings with us here! Hopefully you understood that I was in no way encouraging or forcing people to go and witness a bull fight themselves. And I definitely wouldn’t want to see this happen to a human. I admit that the bull fighting is a very cruel part of the festival and we don’t condone violence or torture of animals in any way. We just felt like we had to attend to witness a fight ourselves. Rest assured I won’t be attending again as by the end I was feeling quite sickened.
      Thanks again and we hope you continue reading.
      Regards,
      Cole

      • Dale

        March 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

        I had read that it made you both feel quite sick towards the end and of course, I know you’re not trying to persuade people to go or not to go, you’re just giving people a peep into what happens drawn from your own prospective & in quite a well written manner too.

        Everyone should make their own mind up for themselves and with this great post people will be aided in that, either for going, or against.

  2. Jonathan Look, Jr.

    March 8, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I so intend to do this, THIS YEAR I HOPE! Finally the stars are aligning. Thanks for the guide and hopefully I can buy you guys a beer while we are there.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 8, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      We probably won’t be there this year Jonathan but thanks for the offer 😉 Loved it last year and you will have so much fun! Be safe!

  3. PamplonaMan

    March 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I live here in pamplona & specialise in tours to the san fermin festival. I love meeting new sanfermineros too!

    If anybody needs anything then just get in touch ok.

    Viva San Fermin!

    • Cole Burmester

      March 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Thanks Michael. I’m sure plenty will want some extra tips for San Fermin.

  4. Nancy

    March 13, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    For me, while traveling in Spain, seeing Pamplona, is not during the running of the bulls. To celebrate the killing of animals, not only is something I don’t want to participate in, but the city is much more beautiful without zillions of people.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      I was just in Pamplona a week ago Nancy while walking part of the Camino de Santiago and it is so different when San Fermin is not on! So quiet and I wasn’t getting sprayed with sangria… So travelling to Pamplona outside San Fermin is definitely a good idea 🙂

  5. Jackson

    March 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I’m sooo jealous. I’ve wanted to attend the Festival of San Fermin for ages. I saw it on television when I was a child and my curiosity and fascination were immediately aroused. I went to high school with a Spanish kid whose father had once been a matador, and who had participated in the festival countless times. We’d gather around Jorge in the cafeteria and listen to him brag about life in Spain. His bragging was more than understandable. Can’t wait to see Pamplona.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 25, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      Would be awesome if you had the chance to go one day soon Jackson! Is a great experience and well worth the effort.

  6. Rebecca

    April 25, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    What a great guide! Thank you so much. My boyfriend and I are going this year and we cannot wait. One question: Do you have to register beforehand to run with the bulls or do you just show up? How do you know where to go?

    Thank you!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 26, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Hi Rebecca,
      Thanks for your comment and questions 🙂
      Are you going with a tour company like Busabout or doing it yourself? If you are with a company then they will provide you with all the on-the-ground information. But basically there is no registration and you will start lining up about 6am on the run. Make sure you are near the start of the bull run so they you don’t get moved out by policemen who will remove anyone past a certain point. Best place is in the big square by the town hall. Just before the run you will be allowed to move to wherever you want to start from. Just be patient 🙂
      Lots of people can give you tips, info too. Did you see my post and video about the actual running with the bulls?
      Good luck and enjoy the experience!
      Cheers,
      Cole

  7. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    July 11, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    Excellent! I will be heading there tomorrow and running/partying on Friday.

    Cannot wait. This post was excellent. Thanks 😀

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Adventure Travel

5 Cool Activities to do When Travelling in South America

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If you’re considering going on a vacation soon, why not consider South America for your holiday destination?

Yes, beach holidays in the US are fantastic, but South America offers amazing activities for first-time travellers and pro-adventurers alike.

Learning Textiles with Puchka, Peru

Puchka is a textile school and cultural tour operator, which takes participants behind the scenes of the usual tourist hotspots.

You’ll not only be introduced to locals and experience their traditional lifestyles, you’ll also be taught the art of traditional Peruvian textile creation. This includes knitting, braiding, embroidery (machine and hand), tapestries, and even gourd-engraving and pan pipes.

You don’t need to be a textile pro; even beginners can attempt embroidery at Puchka. The teachers are incredibly patient and provide amazing one-on-one lessons.

These cross-cultural exchanges enrich the lives of locals and visitors alike.

Visit Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil 

The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil and you can visit the Falls on either side (or both).

The Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls is said to be the best to visit. There are multi trails and circuits to choose from, each encompassing different waterfalls and jungle trails. If you’re up to it, take a boat ride under one of the falls (extra charge).

The Brazilian side, while less popular, is incredibly beautiful. It is located within the largest surviving Atlantic Forest in Brazil. This forest is incredibly rich in fauna and flora and highly protected.

As a tropical rainforest, Iguazu Falls is an all-year destination, although it does get considerably warmer from September to March.

Hike to Angel Falls, Venezuela

Located in the remote, unspoiled and nearly impenetrable Canaima National Park, Angel Falls is one of the world’s natural wonders.

Measuring at 979 meters from the top of Auyantepui Mountain, the Falls is hidden deep within the jungle and getting there is an intense adventure. This magnificent natural wonder is ten times taller than Iguazu Falls – but less visited.

Yes, despite being such an iconic landmark, Angel Falls is not as widely visited since its location means intense hiking through a nearly impenetrable forest. Not many people think the sight is worth the effort.

Hike to Cuevas del Milodón (Milodon Cave), Patagonia

Located 24km from Puerto Natales, Milodon Cave is one of Patagonia’s treasures.

The caves were once a place of refuge for the first human groups on the continent, offering safety from the elements and predators alike. It now holds an exhibition containing 14,000-year-old remains.

A wooden path leads you right up to the cave’s entrance, where its magnificence will leave you in aware, and even a whisper will be echoed back to you.

You should dress warm for your visit here (rain-gear and a windbreaker are important) and wear appropriate trekking shoes. You may also want to take some sunscreen and a headlamp (or flashlight) along with you.

Take a Cable Ride to Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Taking a cable ride up to Sugarloaf Mountain is an unforgettable experience.

The ride happens in two stages (3 minutes each): stage one is from Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) to Morro da Urca (Urca Hill), and the second stage is from Morro da Urca to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The ride up provides 360° views of the stunning Rio de Janeiro, and once you reach the top, you will be confronted with views of Rio’s beaches, downtown Rio, Rio-Niterói Bridge and more.

Don’t worry about eating before the trip up, there are bars available at the top, which provide amazing snacks and beverages.

If you’re determined to go on an adventure but you’re low on funds, why not take a travel loan for that dream trip? The adventure will be worth it.

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Adventure Travel

11 Hidden Adventures for Your Travel Florida Bucket List

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Who would not want a fabulous getaway to Florida? Florida is not just any other state; its hidden adventures can entice the inner fantasies in you. Every year Florida has a fresh start of its surprises that need to be unleashed. Traveling to Florida is always an occasion for new meetings, adventures, and discoveries. That said, here are 11 hidden adventures for your travel Florida Bucket List. Let the adventures begin!

  1.    Shell Key

At Naples’ Goodland Marina, you can board a boat wherein you can embark on Florida’s best shelling experiences. Inhale salt air underneath clear blue skies where you can dance with the magnificent dolphins. A popular spot you can head for is called “Shell Key.”

It is located in Ten Thousand Islands whereby there are shell layers which unleash prized rarities like the Junonia.

  1. Miami city

Every great adventure in Florida starts in Miami. This city is all about fun, art, celebrities, fabulous houses and the beautiful waters. There is one perfect way to explore Miami – yacht rentals and going out with your squad.

The opportunity to have water experience comes no better than this because Miami is just the place to be, to enjoy, to explore, to melt in. You can just relax or even do celebrations with the Yacht Charters in the Miami. Biscayne Bay is also a perfect place to be because the waters are good for snorkeling.

  1.  Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

The system of Florida State Park purchased “Shangri-la” whereby Gilchrist Blue Springs gives off 55 million water gallons daily which flows to Santa Fe River. You get to swim after jumping from a wooden platform into crystal water.

If you are coming with your family, you can have a picnic underneath sprawling oaks. You can also go for kayaking and board paddling. If you want a plain simple trip, you can even stroll around to the Santa Fe River on a wooden boardwalk.

  1. Caracara

If you are an avid or casual birder, then Caracara is the place for you. The birding experience is just worth it.

Get all the birding experience you can want to have at Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville. With the annual festival, it will offer a birding crash course which features experts that would be so glad to help you out with hikes et al.

  1. Mary’s Fish Camp

Meandering via an oak hammock is a dirt road to one of Florida’s campsites wherein screened porches cabins plus bait shacks face the river.

Mary’s Fish Camp is nestled along Bayport’s Mudd River. This is on the Gulf Coast of Hernando County which is a fishing spot landmark. You can camp there and enjoy nature at its best.

  1. Datil Do ‘Ya

This is a signature dish of St. Augustine which is famous for tomato base that is rich with a bit of heat from Datil pepper that is locally grown. You can eat all the best cuisines from the place due to the two outstanding restaurants wherein locals will serve you delicious chowder.

These two restaurants are Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Restaurant and Aunt Kate’s. Both these restaurants offer the best food experiences in Florida if you are a food enthusiast.

  1.  Martin County

On the east coast of Florida, you will find Martin County which will offer you a quick escape from stubborn traffic and congested beaches. The county’s distinctive vibe will help you embrace the beautiful environment that is pollutant free.

Amongst famous attractions is the Blowing Rocks whereby geyser effect is created which often erupts.  To reach this spectacular place you’ll need to reach to the Hobe Sound Beach after which you will need to trek to Blowing Rocks Preserve and have yourself a moment of life.

  1. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours

A five-minute ride to Orlando’s north, you will head straight to Winter Park. The place was made in 1938, and it navigates via pristine and popular Chain of Lakes.

There are numerous breathtaking nature views plus there are historical overviews of luxurious private estates and homes along shores.  This will give you visitors a nostalgic feeling.

Make sure you watch out for sunbathing alligators, paddleboard yoga and frequent water skiers. The whole experience can be enhanced and if you want you can rent a yacht for your family and friends from Miami Yacht Rental.

  1. The Kumquat Festival

Dade city of Florida celebrates kumquat. Kumquat Festival which is celebrated annually on January 27th is a festival that honors this sweet fruit of Dade City. Dade City is the largest supplier of kumquat.

Admission is absolutely free because this family event offers you a chance to taste different combinations of fruits. However, the hidden adventure is Kumquat Growers Open House which is held on January 26th and 25th which features grove tours and packinghouse.

  1. Day Away Kayak Tours

On the Space Coast of Florida, there is Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which is a special and interesting kayak tour. While there is a twinkling of evening stars on a phenomenon called bioluminescence, the water glows below.

Minute organisms which live in water glow shine iridescent green after the water’s stirred up. With fish that dart there’s a glowing trail that is created with paddling strokes producing eerie mesmerizing nightlight wisps.  

Titusville’s Day Away Kayak Tours from May via September feature paddling trips in the nighttime.

  1. Ocola

It is Florida’s equestrian epicenter industry which is situated in Marion County which is at the center of Florida. It is habitat to over 70,000 horse farm acres of horse farms which are set amidst oak trees that are sprawling and green pastureland that is rolling.

The place is famous for horse riding and other related sports. The owner of the place is part of the fun which will not get a mention because she is part of the hidden treasure too.

Conclusion

Now that you have had a bucket list it’s interesting to know which you are opting to go for. Florida is a real wonder. Doesn’t matter if you are there on vacation or business, you never know where an adventure can take you.

But what if you need something more, or maybe less? How about, all you need is just to relax on the beach, to think nothing but a perfect tan and cool enough cocktail? The world is an open book – choose any all-inclusive hotel in Jamaica, Saint Lucia or Bahamas and make your adventure perfect for you. Pick your place, and let the journey begins!

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Adventure Travel

Thanks to Excursion Tourism, You Now Have Countless Adventures At Your Disposal

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The holiday season is upon us and most of us would be planning for large meals and stay-in family vacations at home, this is the norm and a yearly routine for most individuals.

But then there are those of us who know how to break from that routine while also keeping their sense of leisure intact. We are, of course, talking about planning various fun and outdoor activities with the people that we get together with over the holidays.

The activities could be as extensive as taking a complete vacation or as time-friendly as a quick weekend excursion just a few miles away. It is prudent to note that the latter trend of excursion and weekend tourism has gained significant traction lately due to the thrilling options that it brings to the table, while also keeping the average American’s busy schedule in mind.

 

Regardless of whether you are a large family reminiscent of the Brady Bunch or a very small group of people, you can still enjoy these short yet memorable trips with ease. With a large number of platforms facilitating these activities and providing various options to those who are interested in them, the process of putting your adventurous plans to fruition has never been easier.

While there are several options available in these excursions, there are two that stand out to most people in particular, largely because they offer activities that are highly adventurous while remaining easily accessible. Since both of these options are available from a local standpoint, tedious and time consuming logistical planning is not necessary.

 

Take a Skydive

Starting from Michigan City, Indiana, and ending around Illinois, this skydiving adventure is gaining popularity among locals in the vicinity as well as those who belong to adjacent states.

The reason behind it being so sought after is that it offers you the chance to jump down from 14,000 feet in the air and have a fall at 120 MPH – all while maintaining the highest of safety standards to ensure that you will have a fun yet healthy experience. At an affordable price and taking only a half day of your time, this truly remains an excursion that you as well as your family and friends would like to take.

What’s more is that it gives you plenty of pictures and a video of your experience, so you could relive it countless times in the future (and maybe come back for more).

 

Climb a Mountain With a Bed of Water Under You

This option which is available at Malibu, California, remains just as special for its scenic views as it is for its level of adventure. That is why it is also one of the most popular options for a weekend excursion to those who could manage the trip (getting to Malibu from even another city remains easy to accomplish).

What this trip offers is a chance for you to indulge into real life rock climbing at the Westward Beach Road in Malibu. With the sun shining bright as you spend the day conquering a mountain, not many experiences can hold up to this one. This adventure also practices safety precautions, where all activities are performed under an instructor certified by the Professional Climbing Guides Institute.

What’s also great about this option is that you’ll be provided with snack to keep your energy up while climbing the mountain.  We almost forgot to mention that you will also get climbing equipment to enjoy for the day, and proper rock climbing training that you could keep with you for the rest of your life.

 

The Options Are Only As Limited As Your Reach for Them

The choices for these short trips range from weekend getaways in the forest to a few hours’ adventure with the great white sharks in deep seawater.

Simply put, the choices are only as limited as your imagination –  all that you have to do is to pick a spot to visit with the kind of adventure you seek, and find yourself experiencing it within days or even hours, depending on your specific location.

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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