Short Term Accommodation in Pamplona

Did you know a reclusive, Swedish publisher has rented out Ernest Hemingway’s room at Hotel la Perla during the San Fermin fiesta until he’s a hundred years old? That is commitment. I hope he reaches that goal. So are many others when it comes to San Fermin. I’ve been asked time and again what the best method is for accommodation if attendance to a major festival is on your list of things to do before you die. Just last week I met a backpacker in Paris who decided to partake in the wild times at Pamplona and he ended up paying €50 per night. That’s because he went on a last minute whim. Don’t do that. Not with San Fermin. Many dedicated attenders plan a year in advance, I was unlucky to prepare six months in advance. We engaged in a partnership with Roomorama for a flat in the historic old town and with trepidation, I wondered how it might play out. San Fermin is a boisterous, intense experience, so I worried about the noise and the smells and the safety factors. Our cute, little flat was located near Calle Santo Domingo, by the old town walls, so we had a pleasant view. […]

By |September 3rd, 2012|Girls Running With Bulls, Pamplona, Travel Tips|6 Comments

Roomorama in Paris

There’s nothing more supreme in Paris than the ordinary. The tucked away cafes with wrought iron fencing. Elegant, mature women walking their petite dogs. A scruffy man dripping with masculinity and Euro chic walking with intention, a burning cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. My last stay there involved a twelve bed dorm and while the stroll to my hostel along the Seine held charm for me, it’s not quite the same as struggling with a bag of groceries just purchased at the market until I”m standing at a chipped wooden door with a brass knocker, where I insert a key listening for all cylinders to connect and push it’s crafted weight open to a set of creaky wooden stairs that I climb, alternating between balancing a bag of food and my swollen feet, when I turn a key yet again to enter a flat. One that’s been shut up all day and smells like garlic, soap and wine. With Roomorama, I got to do just that. Fantasize for a moment that I’m a resident of the 11th arrondissement, an active neighborhood of cafes, stunning architecture and the mundane. Sometimes I miss the mundane, yet in Paris it’s usually anything but. It was nice to have access to a flat. It was nice to sit down across from a local and talk about his world. I’m not going to tell you that Roomorama offers rock bottom, backpacker prices, because they don’t. What they give you is an experience. That sentiment may sound like a brochure, but that’s the only way I can describe it. See, travel is composed of a series of windows in a building and these windows interconnect, form patterns as much as they veer into nonsensical encounters. The best way to view this building is to stand at a street corner and select a window, any one of them, and once you do – it all makes sense. Places you stay, people you meet.. they are all those tiny windows. Just peer in. […]

By |July 31st, 2012|Girls Running With Bulls, Paris|13 Comments

Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage Meets Jane Austen

My expectations have slipped a few notches when it comes to accommodation. When you travel as much as I do, sometimes you are faced with toilets that work half the time, either partially or rarely clean, bedsheets that don’t smell as dewy fresh as they could, or rude, annoying roommates where privacy is scarce. I even recall a distinct sewage odor invading my nostrils from the bathroom of a hotel in Agra, India a couple of years ago. Ah, sweet memories. In other words, I’ve grown to accept accommodations for what they offer. A touch nicer than okay. Semi-comfortable. It will do. I admit to being weary, even cynical nowadays. When HostelBookers and I partnered together for Girls Running With Bulls, it was my turn to be surprised. Even humble for a change. Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage is a historic manor that has been renovated into a modern day boutique hostel. It took a while for me to wrap my head around that concept. I tend to be a purist and prefer a historic manor to remain one, not be altered, but be trapped in time. I was very wrong. Spectacular exterior Cozy and comfortable drawing room […]

By |July 24th, 2012|Girls Running With Bulls, London, Travel Tips|10 Comments

The Day I Ran with the Bulls in Pamplona

5:30 a.m.: Oneika’s alarm bellows, dragging me from the pits of darkness. Allowing my foggy mind to waken, I lay inert for a moment, processing the reason for such an early wake-up call. Today, we run with the bulls. 6:00 a.m.: The girls and I start to dress. We slide on our white pants, lace up our runners and tie red sashes round our waists. I tie my red bandanna firmly against my throat, for the day before a Japanese tourist was dragged when his bandanna was snagged by a horn. I turn to the girls and say, “Tie up everything tight. No loose shoelaces, sashes or bandannas.” Why do I always feel the need to play mother hen? Pretend to be brave? When deep down, I’m not positive of anything. 6:10 a.m.: We continue a conversation that we’ve been having for days now. Where to run. How. What’s best. We’ve received so many recommendations. The top of Estafeta. Fifty meters down Estefata. No, Telefonica, near the bullring. Yet, we all agreed that the last place we want to end up is the bullring. There’s a waft of fear about human pile-ups. Stupid people on the route. Nicole B. jokes about fearing other runners more than the bulls. A consensus is reached that we’ll go fifty meters down Estafeta, stick to the right hand side and try not to leap towards a bull. Secretly, I want to touch one. Part of me is emboldened after watching a bull run from a balcony the day before. I saw female corredors, more than I anticipated. It was reassuring. Balcony observers – about to watch me 6:15 a.m.: Nicole B. vocalizes her nervousness. How her stomach is doing flips. Do it or not do it? She states this is what she’s always like before doing something. I wonder, doing something this crazy, you mean? I tell her if she truly doesn’t want to run, don’t. It’s an individual decision. I feel the pressure. Mainly because I created this idea and backing out even in the face of a goring or injury isn’t an option. To prove my point, I am willing to go all the way. Oneika reconfirms our plans. She’s been such an interesting force during this trip. As we watched the full length of a bull run on television the day before, Oneika squealed with unchecked enthusiasm. It’s dramatic tension cycling through in three minutes, so who wouldn’t be enraptured? This morning she seems more sober – logical. Stick to the right, yes? She asks. Let’s not get near the bulls. I realize, she’s simultaneously adventurous, but intelligent about it. How I long to be like her. Instead of grossly impulsive. […]

By |July 18th, 2012|Featured, Girls Running With Bulls, Pamplona|37 Comments

Watching a Bull Run at San Fermin in Pamplona

Waking before the dawn breaks. Fumbling in the dark for a set of white clothes that I wore the previous day. A day overflowing with pena bands marching merrily down the cobblestone streets, arousing shuffling feet and fervor. A day of water fights, sangria flowing down chins or splashing against the white canvas of clothes, staining them to a faded pink. A day of crowds jeering, spontaneous dancing and howling at the Pamplona moon that rises every night at ten. Come 11 pm at Ciudadela (Citadel), the old town walls that have remained erect for centuries is where countries compete at a fireworks competition. The night alight with colorful magic, streaking across the sky. A day of families. Dressing their children in San Fermin colours, pushing their strollers and swaying to live drummers or buying them helium balloons in happy, bold shapes. Days of laughter. Runners standing at ‘deadman’s corner’ As the darkness surrounded me, thoughts of mischief were a dull tin. Today, we would watch our first bull run, perhaps in some blind preparation for our own. In a confused flurry, the ladies flicked on lights and dressed hurriedly along with me. Street call to find our balcony spot was 6:45, yet like anything during San Fermin, bodies were already strewn in the old town – some beginning the party, others winding down. Washing the streets from previous night’s party Among the crowd, it was not difficult to spot corredors. Streams of men jumped up and down. Their limbs twitched like loosened electrical wires, hand gestures and mouths gesticulating rapidly. A few resembled freshly washed peaches – dewy and young, unaware of their possible fate with the bulls. […]

By |July 16th, 2012|Girls Running With Bulls, Pamplona|9 Comments

I’m Alive and on TV!

It was the build up. And the planning for six months that brought us to the moment when the rockets went off and we had to avert bulls and intoxicated tourists and locals alike. Along with remaining upright. I'm brimming with stories, highlights, lowlights and all the drama you can muster in a tight three [...]

By |July 11th, 2012|Girls Running With Bulls, Pamplona|15 Comments