Thursday, July 7, 2016

Spain: Running of the bulls off to spirited start

The annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain started this year with four injuries but no one gored, yet always with the flavor of danger in the air as thousands dared to run alongside 1,400 lb. wild bulls.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors have descended on Pamplona, a small northern Spanish city of less than 200,000 whose population can balloon to 1.4 million during the celebrations. The eight-day San Fermin festival is in honor of the city’s patron saint, and while large religious processions take place daily, the free-flowing wine and summertime abandon make this festival markedly hedonistic.

Injuries are common, as more than 15,000 people trip over themselves while fleeing giant running bulls, but no one has died since 2009. Although the festival dates back hundreds of years, since 1910 a total of 16 people (15 Spaniards and one American) have been killed, the majority gored by the bull’s horns, according to the official festival website.

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel-prize winning American writer, is widely credited for the festival shooting into international fame. Starting in 1923, San Fermin became an obsession for him, and he visited the festival nine times. His novel The Sun Also Rises is based at the frenzied festival....

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