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Today, as Spain wraps up the third day of its annual, nine-day Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, New Orleans readies for tomorrow’s Encierro, its own version of Iberia’s wild street fest – except this one involves no bucking beasts.
Where Pamplona employs angry bulls to storm through the calles, New Orleans brings in the Big Easy Roller Girls (plus skaters from select other derby teams) to glide through the Crescent City’s skinny streets.
About 300 skaters – each decked out in red, donning bull horns-topped hats, and swinging baseball bats – race through the French quarter and chase the some 8,000 runners (dressed in the traditional white with red sashes) who show up for the festival. And yes, the so-called RollerBulls do sometimes whack people with the bats (though mostly men, we’re told).
July 21 marks the late Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway‘s 110th birthday, and with that, a gaggle of bleach-bearded men are coming out of the woodwork to participate in Hemingway look-alike contests on at least two continents.
In Key West, historic Sloppy Joe’s Bar (a popular haunt of Hemingway’s back in the 1930s) holds an annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest from July 23-25 during the city’s annual Hemingway Days festival. Look-alikes decked in khaki safari outfits and fisherman’s sweaters (Hemingway was an avid sportsman) flock to Sloppy Joe’s to test their looks, and compete in an Ernest fish-off, arm wrestling competition, and a zany mock “running of the bulls”—a credit to Hemingway’s love for bullfightiing. Read more
My thrill-seeking side likes to test mortality during my travel adventures, and if there’s any chance I can defy-death, sign me up (as long as it’s only a slight chance). Naturally, Pamplona’s famous Fiesta de San Fermin, has been on the top of my to-do list for a few years running, but each year, forces beyond my control have prevented me from my dance with death to the tune of stampeding bulls. (Maybe it’s a sign?)
The legendary festival kicks off in July when the earth starts to shake with pulse-pounding music, dancers, entertainers, and dare-devils diving from statues into the outstretched arms of strangers. The real crowd-pleasing event is the “encierro,” when herds of people are chased by angry bulls through the streets of Pamplona. If you’re not the running sort but the festival sounds enticing, Crystal Cruises has created an attractive alternative.
Prior to the 12-night Mediterranean sailing bound for Venice, the cruise line is offering an interesting new shore excursion which will have you perched in a balcony seat overlooking the bull-run from a safe distance away. Once the excitement fades, passengers will take in some live music and dancing, followed by sightseeing through Pamplona. The 5-day program also includes guided tours in Madrid and Barcelona, a flamenco show, daily meals, hotel stays, a flight from Madrid to Pamplona, and flight from Pamplona to the departure port in Barcelona.
If I do manage to make to this year’s festival, I’ll be easy to spot from your birds-eye view. My “thrill-seeking-self” will be in front leading the charge, with hundreds of frantic, fellow adrenaline-junkies separating myself from the bulls – where there’s only a slight chance of a joining the casualty list.
For more details on pricing for Crystal Cruise’s Running of the Bulls program, check out our Editor’s Review.
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