Running With the Bulls

An amazing experience I’ll never forget. 

I had never seen a bull trample someone, which was good, because if I had I wouldn’t of had the guts to show up…

6 a.m. It’s Early Morning— and it’s Cold.
After a short bus ride from our apartment rental my fellow yankees (Alex & Alex) and I are out on the damp cobblestone streets.

Day is about to break and I’m nervous.

“I mean how big are these bulls?” flashes through my mind.

Big Alex’s suggestion that we dress as locals i.e. white waiter pants,

official Pamplona shirt, and red handkerchief is reluctantly agreed to.

Ducking into a souvenir shop to get fitted serves as a welcome

distraction before the main event.

Sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. “Wait, What Gate do the Bulls run out of!?!”

Dressing like a local doesn’t rid me of my butterflies— it only turns them into Spanish ones.

We notice an intricate system of wooden gates and funnels which work to initially control the path of the bulls.

But what happens when they’re out on the open streets?

We won’t have to wait long to find out; but our first-timer ignorance steadily increases our anxiety.

“Wait, which Gate do the Bulls run out of!?!” Little Alex asks a bewildered half-asleep local to no response; it seems that a quizzical look is the best he can manage this early in the morning.

More thoughts come into focus.

There’s no deus ex machina, no instruction manual that’s going to fall out of the sky and save us.

In all our planning we focused more on where we’d be sleeping and which tapas were best rather than the protocols and procedures involved in co-existing with a bunch of angry horned livestock out on the open streets.

9:15 a.m. “That guy Literally Just got Trampled!”

Anxiety turns to adrenaline as an ominous clip-clap sound in the

distance signals the arrival of an agitated bull.

It starts to rampage.

Wait, did that guy really just grab its tail as it ran past him?

With the appearance of two (even bigger) bulls now hot on the heels of the first it takes me about three seconds to realize that for me the running of the bulls is going to be more like staying pinned to the wall precariously while the bulls run past me.

This decision is re-enforced after watching an unfortunate reveler slip, fall, and get quickly trampled over by the lead bull.

As he starts to convulse I begin to question the sanity of our being here. Maybe we should have stayed longer in Madrid instead?

11 a.m. “Wanna Watch a Bull Fight?”

Thankfully— even after the releasing of a half dozen or so more bulls onto the streets— no other patrons ended up getting hurt.

Maybe the one guy who did was a fluke.

I’m dumbfounded by the courage of the locals to run directly into the path of the bulls.

I mean the latter seem more pissed off than ever.

Both the bulls path and ours terminates at an austere bullfighting arena, the Plaza de Toros, for some more bull-on-reveler hi jinx.

2 p.m. Falling Action… and Sangria.

“Have you ever had a morning like that?” Big Alex asks.

“Never,” Little Alex and I answer in unison.

Between laughs Big Alex blurts out: “Let’s get some Sangria.”

A cartoonish bull cut-out in front of one of the street’s main cafes is our

impetus to stop in and grab a drink.

“Let’s get some Sangria” turns into Sangria and beer as we reminisce about all the craziness that just took place.

Have a similar “fish out of the water” travel story? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Final Note:The decision to run with the bulls shouldn’t be made lightly. Here’s tips to help you stay safe should you make the trip:


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