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Hemingway Adventure

Pamplona, Spain (second day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway Adventure'At noon of Sunday July 6th the festival exploded, there is no other way to describe it.' Hemingway's description in The Sun Also Rises (published as Fiesta in Europe), captures the moment but hardly does justice to the build up.

The streets at the heart of the city are cordoned off to all but essential traffic - drink deliveries, street-sweepers, ambulances - as we join the tide of humanity flowing inexorably down cobbled streets with boarded-up windows, towards the Town Hall where the opening ceremony takes place.

The correct outfit for San Fermín is a white shirt, white trousers and a splash of red - a neckerchief, a sash - in memory of the blood spilt by the saint himself when he was beheaded, or, some say, killed by bulls, over a thousand years ago.

What seems to be absolutely obligatory is that you drink as much as possible and what you don1t drink you spray all over your friends. So bottles of cava, Spanish sparkling wine, are popular, as is a cheaper alternative called kalimotxo, a mixture of wine and Coca-Cola made to a simple recipe - buy a litre bottle of Coke, drink half and fill it up with wine.

From our camera position at a third-floor window we watch a group of young men and women, some in green plastic hospital gowns, rush into the square carrying a bucketful of booze, two large bags of flour and a stack of egg boxes. Now I know why half the balconies are shrouded in plastic sheeting. Within minutes flour and eggs are flying from all sides.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Pamplona, Spain (second day)
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Pamplona
  • Book page no: 97

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