Tents, Trains, Friends & Fireworks

 As the sun peeked through the tent window, Andrew and I quickly began getting ready for the long day ahead. We packed up the tent, jumped the graffiti cover wall and booked it to the train station hoping we’d be able to make the 9:00am train to Pamplona. Unfortunately it was full and we could only purchase tickets for the 1:00pm train.

Today, July 6 was opening day! The beginning of The festival of San Fermín (or Sanfermines) festival, a deeply rooted celebration held annually in the city of Pamplona, Spain. Thousands of people accompany a replica of the statue of Saint Fermin along the streets in the old part of city. The celebration begins at noon, when the opening of the fiesta is marked by setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo and carries on to midnight 14 July, with the singing of the Pobre de Mí.

As much as we wanted to be present for the opening ceremony, it just wasn’t going to happen….So we made due with what we had. We stopped in a small internet shop and sent e-mail to the family updating them on our whereabouts, got a few popsicles and hit the streets to continue exploring Barcelona.

We made our way back at the Train station around noon. I ran to the restroom while Andrew stood with our bags in the smoking area. When I came back outside Andrew was talking to a kiwi named Simon who was going in the same direction as us and was trying to get us to return our tickets and rent a car to drive 5 hours.

As much as I love a nice drive with friends, I really wanted to get to Pamplona. We spoke with a few car rental places and they were all out of our price range, so we improvised and snuck him onto the train. We made a pretty good team. After breaching the first security check point we now had to figure out how to pass through the next 2 check point with guards on either side….Simon went outside to the locked glass doors in the lobby area. After Andrew and I made it through I slipped my train ticket under the door. Simon made it through, now for the final security check…. as we got closer we noticed the lady at the desk checking all of the tickets and speaking to each person as they walked through….keeping my composure I handed her our tickets while Andrew stayed to my right Simon continued walking. The lady voice got louder as she tried to getSimon’s attention, she looked back at me and I just shrugged my shoulders, she kept speaking to us in spanish asking if he was with me and I just replied inglés, inglés! Luckily the guard that was on our right was assisting someone else so Andrew and I kept walking while she continued talking gibberish, we went down the escalator and onto the train. Found Simon, took his backpack and told him to wait in the bathroom. 30 minutes later after the coast was clear we slipped him a note under the door…..it was smooth sailing from there. Four and a half hours later we arrived at our long awaited destination!

A couple on the bus from the train station overheard us discussing plans for the rest of the day and asked if they could come along. Our motto is the more the merrier!! The 5 of us put our bags in a locker area underneath the bus station and hit the streets of Pamplona listening to all of the live music, looking at all of the booths set up on the sidewalk buying last minute pieces for the traditional outfit to run with the bulls (bandanas, sashes, etc.) dancing with everyone in the street, eating great food and ended the evening with an amazing firework show.


Once the firework finale had finished I contacted our Couchsurfing host and headed to his flat. After picking up extra travelers along our venture we couldn’t just let them sleep in the streets, but we didn’t want to take advantage of the couchsurfing opportunity and offend anyone, so everyone came with us and luckily our host was the friendliest guy you’ll ever meet and let everyone stay the night all week long. By the time our stay in Pamplona was over there had been five additional surfers to stay with all of us. It was an experience of a lifetime, a new tiny family that bonded, joked around, made dinner together, shared stories and explored the city together. Absolutely unforgettable!

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