Van Damme cruses into the small town of Pamplona amidst the mountains of the Navarra country side in Northern Spain. The old blue beast has gotten us here, but it will be another one and a half hours before we find our way to the campsite. Our Spain stop-over is the first lengthy stay in a non-english speaking country and it’s clear when we stop to ask a bus driver for directions that this is going to be difficult. After receiving many hand gestures and creating one very frustrated bus driver we are back on what seems to be the right track. Only 7km from the center of town is Camping Ezcaba, this is unlike any campsite we have seen. It has a pool, bar, mini supermarket, shitloads of people and an amazing party atmosphere.
As we pull up Lee says “Hi!” to a young lady walking past and what do you know, she’s Australian and before we even learn her name Sarah is sitting in our van chatting about travel and what we’ve been doing. A long free hot shower and a change of clothes puts us into the right frame of mind and it’s not long before we are out on the piss and meeting even more new people. Six seconds walk from our van is the campsite bar where we decide to see the night in. Four or five beers later on an empty stomach has me trying to dance with a local bloke and his wife, which ends with an early night for me.
In the morning we meet chef Robin at the bus station. He has proven to be a really fantastic mate and has caught a plane and two buses to meet us here in Pamplona. Now if you haven’t heard of Pamplona, then you probably have never seen the masses of people dressed in white with red scarves being chased down a tiny street by rampaging bulls. It’s the Sanfermin Festival and the running of the bulls, that’s why we have come here, to risk our lives all in the name of upholding our manhood, or something like that.
The concept is quite simple. The eight or so very large bulls must get from A to B along two city blocks. Somewhere along this path they are met with a large number of terrified and possibly insane individuals that choose to race and taunt these huge animals to the finishing point in the bull ring. It is a long running tradition that has seen many people gorged, injured and even killed when this beef avalanche gets out of control. The bull run is the center piece for the over all fiesta. Celebrations that often has crowds of over half a million dancing and drinking litre bottles of Sangria and cheap beer in the streets. It’s like New Years eve for a week and there is no doubt our livers will ever be the same.