Day 4 – El Camino – San Fermin Festival Opening Ceremony

In the spirit of the drinking festival, Matt woke up super early, 5h30, and started drinking Kalimotxo. It’s a drink typical to the Basque region, red wine mixed with Coke or Pepsi.

There was no corkscrew, so he pushed the cork into the bottle. We said, Matthew you should do that in the bathroom. But since I had just gone to the toilet, he didn’t want his nostrils to burn. The cork went in, alright, pushing the wine with such force that it sprayed all over the ceiling, all three beds and then his face. He quickly finished the bottle to himself.

Into our San Fermin festival get up, white pants, white t shirt and red sash around the waist. We were not allowed to wear the red neck scarf until the first firecracker at 12pm.

We headed into town around 8h45 to grab a good spot in the opening ceremony. Everyone was dressed the same as us. The bus ride was not long so we arrived rather timely into the city centre. We grabbed a Bocadillo, a Spanish version of a baguette sandwich that I was already very familiar with.

The old part of Pamplona is very beautiful, you can already begin to admire the architecture from afar.

We bought a litre of Sangria each and passed the police checkpoint where the officers removed the bottle lid. I guess this is a good measure to ensure that full bottles are not thrown across the plaza.

We joined a few hundred other revelers, it was two hours before the official starting time at 12pm. Already people were throwing sangria at each other.

A circle opened up near the back of the crowd and Matt did his signature move, The Worm. Holy hell it was amazing! I could not take a photo in time but everyone was going crazy for him and throwing sangria and cheering. The atmosphere was incredible.

A girl near us squatted in the middle of the crowd to urinate and them everyone pushed her around and threw sangria her way. It was quite a mess.

At the stroke of midday, 12PM, the mayor of the city lit the first fire cracker. This was the signal to wear the neck scarf and everyone waved theirs in the air like a bunch of fanatics.

I could safely say that a large number of people in the crowd were Australian tourists. Drunk, stupid and loud Australian tourists. We weren’t a complete embarrassment to our country, but there were enough of us to point out in the crowd of something stupid was done.

The apartments that surrounded the plaza was covered in plastic from the first floor. Some people were standing on their balconies until the rowdy mob decided it would be fun to throw their empty sangria bottles at them. Of course they let this happen in the spirit of the festival. But in the end they needed to close their doors. The balconies acted as ‘goals’ for the crowd who filled them up with empty plastic bottles. A rather disgusting thing to see.

As the final crackers were lit, the crowd began to disperse. People were heading left and right, all mostly headed to neighboring streets where bars would be waiting to serve up tapas and cold beverages.

We met some Spanish girls in a bar, where we were eating Bocodillos tortillas de patatas. Yumm! It was a potato omelette in a bread roll for 5€.

We followed them to the San Nicola part of town where the clubs are. We went into a bar, got a drink and then lost them. How lucky of us.

Must say, this was one of the best days of my life.

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