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Life or Death – Running with the Bulls

Have you ever faced your fears? See how we faced ours at the Running with the Bulls Festival in Pamplona, Spain this year.

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Running with the Bulls in Pamplona

Running with the Bulls during the Festival de San Fermin was one of the scariest, yet exhilarating, adventures we have ever done.

San Fermin Running with the Bulls still

Shaky still image from our video while running with the bulls

Fear is a funny thing.

It has paralysed me when faced with heights. Kept me awake when I was younger and too afraid to sleep in the dark. And made me lash out when worried I might lose the ones I love.

I have even seen fear on friends and strangers faces when they have faced similar situations or confronted their own stresses. But never have I seen fear etched on to so many faces at the same exact moment.

Never have I stood looking in to those faces and known that my face shows the exact same feeling. A moment when the next 2 minutes could mean life or death.

Until now.

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

Barricaded shops decorated for the running with the bulls

Running with the Bulls

There is no escape from it as I am walled in by apartment blocks, shop front windows and 3 metre high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lies the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who have partied all night. While at the other end a dozen wild bulls paw the stony ground looking for freedom.

Unfortunately I am standing in their path. This is where the fear comes from.

Adorned in white with a slash of vivid red at our throats and waists we stand jostling for space. Elbow to elbow with thousands of other thrill seekers, tourists and locals alike, I begin to wonder what the hell possessed me to go running with the bulls as I stand on this narrow 825m stretch of cobbled street at the crack of dawn.

Running with the Bulls in Pamplona

A bit of false bravado before the running with the bulls

Narrow streets in Pamplona for Festival de San Fermin, Festival of San Fermin, Running with the Bulls

Running with the Bulls route

Only my thoughts accompany me before being obliterated as the first firework is fired signalling the release of the bulls.

Silence descends for a split second before the crowd surges as if pushed by an invisible hand. Knowing I have a few seconds before the raging bulls reach me I stand my ground. Arms flail and the ground trembles beneath the thousands of feet pounding the uneven cobbled street as people begin to panic.

Abruptly a roar from the crowd is unleashed as the bulls sprint into sight. My fear evaporates and is replaced by pure adrenaline. Blood surges through my muscles and the world seems to slow around me.

Spinning on my heels caught in the rush of the crowd I am propelled forward away from the snorting beasts. Fear has gripped many and it’s now I realise that it was right to send Adela away from me as there is no chance I could help her if she ends up in danger.

It is every person for themselves when fear takes over.

Hands grapple and claw at one another as everyone fights for space away from the middle of the road. Wrenched off my feet I stumble but catch myself from falling beneath the unrelenting feet of runners.

All too suddenly the shoulder to shoulder crowd splits like Moses parting the Red Sea. It can only be the Bulls. I can hear their hooves on the cobbles before I can see them. The sound spurs the crowd on faster again.

Glancing to my left I spot them race past within spitting distance.

It’s not over and there isn’t a chance to stop as the crowd continues to run.

Sprinting madly after the bulls we run into a moment of darkness under the stadium entrance. Light suddenly bursts across my face as the crowd roars again and again as I join the celebrating masses in the middle of the bull ring. Blood pulses in my ears and my heart threatens to crash through my ribcage.

Clay and stones grind under my feet as I scan the crowd. It’s no longer fear that creases my face but elation, celebration and relief when I spot my brother, friends and thankfully Adela emerging from the crowd.

San Fermin Festival, Festival of San Fermin, Running with the Bulls, Festival de San Fermin,

Nervous about facing our fears before the running with the bulls

Check out our Running with the Bulls video!

Not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead largely due to animal cruelty. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.

If you want to join the Festival de San Fermin next year or any other wild festivals in Europe then book with our partners Busabout.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Gina

    July 30, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Great account of your experience running with the bulls. I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to do it, but it sounds like an unforgettable time!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      Thanks Gina. Was the best and worst feelings all at once so quite a rush! You would get caught up in the hype like Adela was and definitely do it I think 🙂

  2. Laurence

    July 30, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    I don’t know to be honest. If you want adrenaline, this seems like a complicated and unnecessarily cruel way to go about it. On the other hand, eating meat (which I do, happily), ain’t exactly an animal friendly sport, not is it necessary for my survival. I do it, basically, because I enjoy it. Morals. Weird things eh?

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      We felt comfortable doing it because it has such a long standing tradition in Spain but agree with you Laurence. For example we would NEVER eat whale meat in countries where they still hunt them legally but we would do this. Will have a follow up post soon about the bull fights we attended.

  3. Jakori

    July 30, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    I have always wanted to run with the bulls but am afraid I may fall and get trampled. It looks like you had a great time. I like the pictures. Great post

    • Cole Burmester

      August 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Thanks Jakori. Hope you get a chance to run sometime in the future!

  4. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad

    July 30, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    It’s great fun isn’t it! 🙂 At that moment when the bulls come, it really is every man and woman for themselves, there is nothing you can do except keep running and hope you don’t fall over! 🙂 Did you have fun playing with the cows afterwards?

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      Someone described it to me before the run as the best and worst experience they have ever had. So true. The bullring was crazier than the actual run with so many idiots about. So glad we did it though.

  5. Escaping Abroad

    July 31, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Glad you made it out unharmed! As cool as it sounds this is one I don’t think I’d risk participating in. I’ve seen too many photos of the unlucky guys who got horned! 🙁

    • Cole Burmester

      August 2, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      We have seen some horrendous photos and videos. We just used a bit of commonsense and caution and it seemed to work for us 🙂

  6. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    July 31, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Loved reading this piece, could definitely feel what it must be like! I’d never have done it, us being vegetarian/super animal lovers and all, but after I got rammed by that cow, I’ve felt how painful even small horns are plus the crushing blow of hitting the ground. i’d rather not feel one of the huge horns piercing my leg 🙂 Can’t wait to read your thoughts about the experience that you mention above.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      We hate seeing animals be harmed as well so was extremely sad and moving to see them be killed later that evening. Follow up post to come.

  7. Arti

    August 2, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    It sounds crazy when lives are in danger in the name of a festival!! I certainly would never dare to take part in the Bull Run!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      It’s such an adrenaline rush but completely bonkers. But I guess that’s what makes it so popular!

  8. Jeremy Branham

    August 2, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    I love reading your story about the bulls. I’ve been to Spain and bullfighting does turn a lot of people off. I think it can be rather cruel. However, it is definitely a cultural difference.

    As for the running part, that is definitely an adrenaline rush. Being the athlete and super fast runner that I am, I am not sure I would attempt this as my feet and coordination don’t always get along. However, loved watching this as others do it though.

    Did you happen to meet Dave and Deb of The Planet D? They also did this same bull run (not sure if you did it the same day though).

    • Cole Burmester

      August 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      We didn’t see Dave and Deb unfortunately as they were there a few days before us. Really want to meet them though!

      Was so much fun and such a rush. Not sure I could ever do it again though as I think I used most of my luck up during the run haha.

  9. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    August 2, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    You wild man! Running with the bulls is a thing Eric and I have contemplated but we’ve never been there at the right time–not sure what our final decision would be if we were…Can’t wait for the video.

    I know running with the bulls is controversial like circuses or zoos or bull fighting but I appreciate your documentation of the experience. That’s our job as travel bloggers and we struggled with the same pros and cons when we blogged about watching the world’s best horseback bull fighter in Mexico: http://trans-americas.com/blog/2010/06/pablo-hermoso-mendoza/

    • Cole Burmester

      August 7, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      You guys would definitely run Karen. Getting caught up in the atmosphere is what makes it so exciting. They take it so seriously there and was awesome to be a part of it.

      Thanks for the support as well Karen. Was tempted not to write anything but we feel the same as you. If we didn’t write about these experiences (which so many people get to do) then what is the point of writing in the first place?

  10. Audrey

    August 6, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    Brave one guys! I think I’d be the one watching the crowds run from the safety of a balcony. 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      August 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Thanks Audrey! Was bloody terrifying but so glad we did it. Was fun watching it the next day as well and seeing the terror on everyones faces 🙂

  11. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    August 7, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    How terrifying! I don’t think I’d ever do this.. mostly because I’m 4’10” and would probably get tramples in the crowd. 😛

    • Cole Burmester

      August 8, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      You could probably limbo under the bulls though 😉 It was seriously the most scary and craziest thing we have ever done.

      Congrats on your sale by the way!

  12. Payje

    August 8, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    Oh my gosh TERRIFYING! I don’t know what I would have done in that situation, probably just froze up and peed my pants and cried or something… what a cool thing to have done!

    • Cole Burmester

      August 8, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      Hahaha I am sure you would have been fine! You get caught up in the atmosphere and basically dragged along so quite hard to freeze in one spot 🙂

  13. Diana Edelman

    August 8, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Whew. That was some nerve-wracking reading. Wonderful job taking me into the moment. 🙂

  14. Ali

    August 8, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Love how you wrote this one. I went to the running of the bulls in 2000 when I was in Spain for a study abroad program. We stayed in Pamplona for 2 nights, partied in the streets until it was time for the running, and then watched from the end of the line, right outside the stadium everyone runs into. That was enough for me. There’s no way I could handle actually participating. Definitely an interesting experience though. I’m glad you survived.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 13, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Good effort partying all night! We were staying in a campground out of town so had to head back there around 3am each day. So much fun though being on the streets. Glad we survived as well 🙂

  15. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    August 10, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    I don’t think I ever want to do this, but I’d love to go watch.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      We just posted a video of our run as well Stephanie!

  16. Alexandra

    August 14, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    You’re way braver than I! I would never do this! I’m more the drinking on the sidelines type 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      August 14, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      Did you see our video of it Alexandra?

      Plenty of drinking was done on the sidelines as well haha. I needed it to help my courage 😉

  17. GIrdhar Singh Sodha

    December 3, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    Thrill to read this. Love the way you narrate your experience.
    It seems to me that I am also running with you.

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Adventure Travel

Explore Auckland’s Coasts With One Exquisite Walking Hike

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There is a wonderful place found in the far southwest of the Pacific Ocean. It is a place called Auckland, and it is found in the amazing terrain of New Zealand. It is a place that commands the attention of over 1 million people who prefer to live and reside in this majestic city.

Did you know that Auckland claims the top spot in New Zealand with its wide range of people and the most concentrated number of people within a city in New Zealand?

But why do so many people come to Auckland, New Zealand, and live there? What do they appreciate the most?

The truth is that the answer may vary, and it may differ from person to person, but it is hard to deny that nature is not a crucial part of their decision making. The beautiful city has fantastic places that offer great adventure and recreational activity.

You can take advantage of the diverse coasts, hidden coves, and more of the northern area in the North Island. It is known for its various boats, and some believe that it has more ships than any other city in the entire world.

It is a city that resides between two large fantastic natural harbors.

Let us find out more about how you can explore this majestic city with one fantastic walking hike.

The Auckland Coast

For those who want to stay near to Auckland’s city and travel well, it is necessary to start your journey with the Auckland Coast’s breathtaking area.

Did you know that Auckland’s coast ranges over 15km, will take over four hours to traverse, and is somewhat challenging to navigate? But the truth is that it is worth it. Why is it worth it? Well, you can seemingly walk the length of an entire nation within the span of a few hours. If you wake up early in the morning and go on this journey, you can finish your hike by noon or an hour past noon.

But in that brief timeframe, you can experience several oceans, notice a slew of volcanoes, and have a glimpse into people’s regular lives in the New Zealand area.

This fantastic walk is excellent because of its duration and because you are able to experience lush greenery and park settings over 30% of the time. It is a great way to clear your head, get to know more about the people you are traveling with, and experience the refreshing Auckland air.

Experts suggest beginning your journey at the less intriguing Onehunga area and then moving forward with public transportation at the Britomart stop. You will find that you can travel east to take in the water sights with a bit of work.

When your walk is over, you can grab a fresh beverage at the Waitemata Harbour, a premium harbor.

You will want to make sure to bring some healthy snacks along for the walk because you may not notice different places to eat as you go on this part of the hike.

It is best to ensure that you understand that you must input the Ferry Building into your mobile device or ensure to use the local municipal iSITE for further guidance.

If you are limited on time, I would suggest that you go on this route because it lets you take in the entire area and understand this excellent place.

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Adventure Travel

Hiking Adventures in Bryce Canyon National Park

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If you are on the lookout for the perfect environment for an adventurous and challenging hike, look no further. Located in the Southern Utah region is the best park that is most suitable for your hiking adventure, the Bryce Canyon National Park. This is a great option to relaxed after you are through playing in $5 minimum deposit casinos.

This park hosts hike lovers from time to time and people even come from other countries in the world to experience the wonder of this park. The landscape and beautiful trails make this a choice venue. There is a rental service at this location if you love to stay behind.

You can enjoy the priceless glimpse of the sunrise and sunset from the different landscape. The part also permits visitors to create traditional camps at different locations for a more adventurous experience.

There are a couple of trails that you can choose from for your hiking adventure, and no matter your level of experience in hiking, you will find a track that matches your taste. Even if you are totally new to hiking, there is something for you at the Bryce Canyon National Park . Below is a list of some of the trails to try when you take a trip to this park.

The Rim Trail

This is the most accessible trail at Bryce Canyon National Park. It is suitable for those who just want to have a good time walking around and savoring the magnificent scenery of the park. From any part of the park, you can connect to this trail as it goes all the way around the park.

When lodging at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, it is a good idea to start your hike from the place known as the sunrise point. Just as the name implies, if you wake up early to start your walk, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise. If you have a camera with you, you’ll take some fantastic pictures.

Also, you’ll get a clear view of the Bryce amphitheater from this point. Just like in an adventure movie, you have to find a way to link up to boat Mesa, and on your way, you walk through some sites like the Mormon temple and Queen garden. This hiking trail is easy, and all you have to deal with is a total of approximately 200 feet elevation. You will surely have a nice time on this trail.

Navajo Loop Trail

On the order of difficulty, this trail comes next after the rim trail. The starting point of this trail begins from the sunset point around the southern area of the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Just like for the rim trail, the trail presents a nice view of the sunset, and with a good camera, you’ll be able to take exciting photo shoots.

Walking this route involves a visit to the Silent City, which is an aesthetic combination of limestone and urban expansion. During the hike, you will also walk through Wall Street, which happens to be a distinctive attraction at the Bryce Canyon park. You won’t ever want to miss the narrow walls. From this point, you may decide to go back to the sunset point or take other shorter hikes like the Peekaboo loop trail and Queen garden trail. Both routes are challenging and adventurous, but you will enjoy every bit of the challenge. After you have done this, you can then go ahead to have some fun in a $5 minimum deposit casino.

Mossy Cave Trail

This Trail presents an entirely different sight than the one that we have previously mentioned. From this trail, you will be able to catch the view of the towers in the park nearby without descending to the amphitheater. This hiking course begins at approximately 4 miles from the entrance to the Bryce Canyon park. However, if you visit this park and would like to enjoy something completely different from the other common tracks, then this is an exciting hiking trail for you to try.

Hiking is more than a walk, it is a fun and adventurous experience. All trails at the Bryce Canyon National Park are worth trying on your next visit. Whether you seek to have some fun or you just want to catch some beautiful scenery and feel close to nature, you will find the right place that suits you. Get ready to have an amazing hiking experience.

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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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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