More Pamplona Fiesta Advice From The Pamplona Posse (Go on google us I know you want to!)
How to make an evening go with a bang
By The Pamplona Posse
When in Pamplona the focus is, obviously you might say, on the Bull Run. What else? However when you analyse it, even with the build up beforehand and celebrations – or commiserations, afterwards it only takes up a small proportion of the day. Dilemma, what do you do for the rest of the day? Answer? No not drink every hour, well, ok, maybe just most of them. There is plenty to do and see around; however, while you are drinking or even if you decide to stay sober for a while One experience not to be missed is an evening watching the fireworks. Last year I finished off one evening by having a picnic there with a bunch of guys I met. I didn’t know many people but hey, this is Pamplona and everyone knows everyone after half an hour. I was told that the fireworks in Pamplona were not to be missed. They were the talk of the town and companies competed to win the ‘wow’ factor. I thought I had better join the throng and see if they were really as good as the ones back home.
Why is it that whenever the British have a picnic they end up taking everything including the kitchen sink? I swear we looked like a bunch of refugees making our way across the plazas and down the roads to the Ciudadela where the fireworks are let off. This is the grassy area by the parapets of the old city walls. Fairly empty by day as it gets very hot there, although useful for sunbathing or people with kids, it was transformed nightly into a sea of people straining and stretching to ooh and ahh at the pyrotechnics on offer.
We were a motley crew, this picnic party; all ages, men and women, some carrying bags with food, others carrying bags full of drink containers, and some just staggering along, hoping they were following the right leader. The best sight I thought was the two guys who got the job of carrying the dustbin with ice in to keep the drink cold! Most of the party had started the evening by making sure they saved their arm muscles by exercising their throat. Why carry alcohol and let it get warm, when you can drink it cold to start with? No one had bothered to change for the evening –who wants to when you are going to be sitting on the grass getting totally slaughtered, and were still in their scruffy, dirty, obligatory white and red outfits –well, dirty grey by now. This state of disrepair added to the illusion of a displaced group looking for a home, and many people gave us a wide berth, looking questioningly as we passed.
We finally found a home and started settling in. Our home was a patch of grass near the walls, sheltered but not too far to walk. All that food was getting heavy now (drink was getting lighter!) I wondered what they had supplied. I couldn’t imaging it would be easy to organise this sort of thing in fiesta time when all the focus is on drink, not food. I couldn’t even remember seeing any shops that sold anything besides drink, souvenirs or medicines. My theory is that after too much of the first, you can pick up some unwanted of the second and the pharmacies make a fortune supplying the third to aid your recovery before going home. Anyway, back to the picnic. We started to sit in a circle, but then spread out to be more comfortable, gravitating into groups that suited age and gender demarcations. The one common factor though was that we could all access the supplies easily- most important. I wondered when the fireworks were going to start, as I thought that was the purpose of our trail. However I was rapidly sinking into a booze fuelled haze and wondered who the girl was on my right, who had just laid her head in my lap. I found that one out later (another story). Something edible was passed round and I was amazed to find I was eating a chilli roll. No not a chilli dog, just a loaf of bread with chilli beef in it. It was good and soaked up some of the fizzy plonk I had swilling around in side of me. There were other offerings, but these were the best. This picnic was an interesting one without a doubt.
Suddenly a shout went up. It was firework time. Everything I had heard was an understatement. Whether it was my alcoholic haze, or whether they were as good as promised, I am not sure, but I have never seen anything like it. The fireworks were huge, filing the whole sky with bursts of colour and sound. They were deafening and mesmerising at the same time. They just kept on coming. Red, blue, green, gold, silver, every colour you can imagine, exploding high above the heads of the crowd, lighting up the whole area with magical glitter, intense with flashes of every hue. Everyone had their necks craned, staring up to take it all in. Many were just lying on the grass, absorbing the experience in awe. Children nearby were vocal in their appreciation, screaming in excitement alongside the gasps of the older spectators (or maybe those gasps were not due to the fireworks. It was dark. Who knows? I wasn’t going to look). Each time the fireworks seemed to quieten down and have finished there was another explosion and the sky was once more lit by a myriad of starry fragments of colour. At last the final burst came, sounding like a battery of gunfire, and leaving everyone almost speechless with the wonder of the special effects. To bring me back to reality the girl beside me came to life, looked up at the sky and said “I wonder how many mouths the bill for that lot would feed” and promptly passed out again. It made me stop and think, but only for a second, as my next drink was passed to me. This was Pamplona, a fiesta of excess. Why should the fireworks be different from anything else in the town? I would be responsible when I got home, but not here. No one is responsible during fiesta time. Even the locals take on different personalities, letting loose all the inhibitions that keep them in line the other 50 weeks of the year. Heaven on earth for a while, though I am glad it only lasts a short while. No one could keep going for much longer –least of all my liver! I swear it aged 10 years in 10 days.
With the fireworks finished the crowds began to thin and all the children were taken home to bed –or on to the funfair round the corner. I had reached my limit however, so after helping gather up all our belongings and made sure there was no food or drink left to weigh us down and be carried. I set off back to the centre of town to crash out - in the nearest bar. You didn’t think I had finished totally for the night did you. This was fiesta time!!!