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Pamplona during San Fermin

Mark2012

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I'm going to be starting the Camino Frances from St Jean on July 3 this year, and expect to reach Pamplona on Sunday, July 6 - the day the big San Fermin festival is scheduled to begin!

I may or may not want to stop in Pamplona overnight, that's something I want to decide on the day. If I decide that the busy, loud fiesta vibe isn't compatible with my Camino mindset I may well look to walk on to Cizur Menor.

However, I'm wondering about the implications of the fiesta for bunk availability in Pamplona. I saw on a thread in the albergue sub-forum that apparently beds are like goldust during San Fermin, which would make sense for hotels etc., but I asked a question in that thread which has gone unanswered, so I'll ask it again here - does San Fermin make much difference to how busy albergues are? Given the way the distances line up, Pamplona is a natural stop point on day 3/4 of the Camino for many people (even though to do so would be to go against the Brierley guide!!!); so, short of pilgrims choosing to start in Pamplona at that time or timing their departure from St Jean to coincide with San Fermin, I don't see why albergues should be filling up any faster there at that time than anywhere else in July.

Am I missing some vital bit of understanding on this or is it just that Pamplona albergues will be busy in July anyway, San Fermin or no San Fermin?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Kanga

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I don't have personal experience but was recently talking to a friend who said when she walked the Camino she inadvertently arrived in Pamplona during San Fernin. It was a bit of a nightmare. Drunken noisy crowds. Some kindly people steered her through to the muni albergue and she got a bed there - they did not take bookings and all beds were reserved for walking pilgrims. It was about six years ago so don't know if the situation with regard to the public albergues remains the same. I have stayed a few times at the albergue in Trinidad de Arre (immediately to the right of the bridge as you enter Trinidad) which is only about 5 km before Pamplona - might be worth checking in there instead of going on to Pamplona
 

Mark2012

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I don't have personal experience but was recently talking to a friend who said when she walked the Camino she inadvertently arrived in Pamplona during San Fernin. It was a bit of a nightmare. Drunken noisy crowds. Some kindly people steered her through to the muni albergue and she got a bed there - they did not take bookings and all beds were reserved for walking pilgrims. It was about six years ago so don't know if the situation with regard to the public albergues remains the same. I have stayed a few times at the albergue in Trinidad de Arre (immediately to the right of the bridge as you enter Trinidad) which is only about 5 km before Pamplona - might be worth checking in there instead of going on to Pamplona

Thanks for that. All things being equal, I'll probably either stop short or walk on, though it's possible that I'll want to stop in Pamplona that night. I stayed there in 2012 on my first Camino Frances and had an enjoyable night. It was early on in the walk, so my Camino 'brain' was still forming, but I later came to dread approaching cities and even large towns, as the crowds, the aloofness, the speed of everything, and the hustle and bustle came to feel very... disruptive. That sense hadn't kicked in for me by the time I reached Pamplona in 2012, but I remember it really fragmented the crowd of people who had formed over those first few days in St Jean, which was both a good and a bad thing.

This year, I'm guessing that I will be most likely to stay there if I find myself having made early connections with people who really want to have the Pamplona experience. Otherwise, it'll be Trinidad or Cizur Menor for me!
 
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Hotel, hostal and private Albergues in Pamplona will be booked out, and charging premium prices. This restricts pilgrim beds to the Casa Paderborn Albergue (26 beds) and the Jesus y Maria (114). The city is not a place for a sound nights sleep at the height of San Fermin, the partying never seems to really stop.
 

biarritzdon

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I am afraid to say that weekend and the second go round in September is a drunken mosh pit for more than 5 days. There are more broken bottle and puke than bulls running in the streets. But then for each his own. This time of year you can find a lot more interesting places with bull fights and local celebration of bulls running in the street. i.e., Puenta la Reina, Sahagun for example.
 
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Mark2012

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I am afraid to say that weekend and the second go round in September is a drunken mosh pit for more than 5 days. There are more broken bottle and puke than bulls running in the streets. But then for each his own. This time of year you can find a lot more interesting places with bull fights and local celebration of bulls running in the street. i.e., Puenta la Reina, Sahagun for example.

Sounds like if I was to stay in Pamplona that night that the walk out the next morning would be an eye-opening experience.

I remember in 2012, if I ended up staying in even a moderately-sized town on a weekend night, revellers and clubbers were still making their way home the following morning as I was beginning my walking day. It made for some 'interesting' encounters with people who might best be described as "tired and emotional"!
 

biarritzdon

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Sounds like if I was to stay in Pamplona that night that the walk out the next morning would be an eye-opening experience.

I remember in 2012, if I ended up staying in even a moderately-sized town on a weekend night, revellers and clubbers were still making their way home the following morning as I was beginning my walking day. It made for some 'interesting' encounters with people who might best be described as "tired and emotional"!
Reminds me of an early morning experience I had leaving Logrono on a Saturday morning as the bars were closing around 6am. I was obviously a pilgrim with my backpack and these young Spanish punks were abusing me because they thought I was Dutch, I told them I was French just to say my life. Their hatred for what the Orange did to the Spanish team in the World Cup is still alive and the fact that I'm really an American would have probably gotten me beaten up.
 

Mark2012

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Reminds me of an early morning experience I had leaving Logrono on a Saturday morning as the bars were closing around 6am. I was obviously a pilgrim with my backpack and these young Spanish punks were abusing me because they thought I was Dutch, I told them I was French just to say my life. Their hatred for what the Orange did to the Spanish team in the World Cup is still alive and the fact that I'm really an American would have probably gotten me beaten up.

I was fortunate in similar situations that the locals were usually well disposed towards Irish people!
 

thetravellingpen

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June 2014
I'm starting my camino in Pamplona on 11 July... but I prebooked accommodation at Casa Ibarrola on 9th and at Albergue Residencia los Abedules on the 10th. As it is my first stop, I won't be used to the solitude and peace yet, and as I'll never get another chance to experience the festival, I decided to spend one day there as I'll probably never get back to Pamplona again anyway. From there on it will be restful... had it been in the middle of my camino, I might not have decided to stay a day, but as it's the starting point, why not. I've living in Thailand and earning weak Thai baht, so not much chance to travel to Europe... so making the most of the stops. Will get plenty of time over the following few weeks for quaint and quiet villages! Spending a day in Madrid on the way home too.
 
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I started from Pamplona, and although I didn't set out at the height of Fermin Fever, I knew that another option just past the city was Cizur Menor (with a couple of albergues). So you could choose to stop there instead. Also, if you come up empty - or want to experience the city from a local's perspective, which I did - you could always opt (for one night anyway), to find a bed/via Couchsurfing.. ;) Buen Camino!
 
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You might try the (new in 2013) parroquial albergue in Zabaldika, between Larrazoana and Trinidad de Arre about 8km before Pamplona. I don't know if they take reservations, and doubt it, but I think their telephone number is 948-330918. You can check their entry on camino information on www.consumer.es (etc--sorry, I haven't got the full web info). The albergue which opened in 2013 seems to be well recommended on this forum and elsewhere, and they MAY have space near the dates of los Fermines. Buen camino.
 
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Albergue Jesus y Maria:

Disponibilidad del albergue: Todo el año salvo Sanfermines (5 al 14 de julio incluidos), y durante las Navidades.
 

Mark2012

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Albergue Jesus y Maria:

Disponibilidad del albergue: Todo el año salvo Sanfermines (5 al 14 de julio incluidos), y durante las Navidades.

So the main albergue is basically open to all, effectively not an albergue at all, during San Fermin? Wow. Looks like I'll be stopping short or walking through for sure! Thanks for the info.
 
D

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At the moment Jesus y Maria is closed to everyone during Sanfermines, so its 114 beds are not available to anyone. I made the enormous error of scheduling a flight departing Pamplona early on the first day of the festival. The least expensive bed I could find was in a college dormitory near the airport at over 100E per night. It was packed, and generated more revenue that week than it does the entire rest of the year!

Remember that the Camino is blocked for the actual running of the bulls, so you cannot get through the city before about 9 a.m. After the fences are taken down, it is merely impassible because of crowds, drunks, and vomit. It is a religious event, so don't forget the real parades and ceremonies that will impact the crowds. The Capilla de San Fermin is on Calle Mayor, pretty much on the Camino. Many festivities launch from its locale.

Cizur Menor will be almost full at its opening bell at noon, so don't plan on a bed for an arrival after about 2 p.m. Quite frankly, in my opinion, Sanfermines is a bigger pain than the descent from the Iron Cross...;)
 

Mark2012

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At the moment Jesus y Maria is closed to everyone during Sanfermines, so its 114 beds are not available to anyone. I made the enormous error of scheduling a flight departing Pamplona early on the first day of the festival. The least expensive bed I could find was in a college dormitory near the airport at over 100E per night. It was packed, and generated more revenue that week than it does the entire rest of the year!

Remember that the Camino is blocked for the actual running of the bulls, so you cannot get through the city before about 9 a.m. After the fences are taken down, it is merely impassible because of crowds, drunks, and vomit. It is a religious event, so don't forget the real parades and ceremonies that will impact the crowds. The Capilla de San Fermin is on Calle Mayor, pretty much on the Camino. Many festivities launch from its locale.

Cizur Menor will be almost full at its opening bell at noon, so don't plan on a bed for an arrival after about 2 p.m. Quite frankly, in my opinion, Sanfermines is a bigger pain than the descent from the Iron Cross...;)

Hmm. It really sounds like San Fermin will be a bit of a complicating factor.

I had been planning on stopping in Zubiri the night before, but if I'll need to reach Cizur Menor by 2pm, with the not inconsiderable matter of a busy Pamplona to navigate through, that might be a bit of ask. Would it be feasible to go on to Zariquiegui, or would that would the albergue there also be likely full that day? I wouldn't like to find myself in a situation where I was walking on from town to town to town so early in the Camino looking for an available bunk. My body might not thank me for the extra kms!
 
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biarritzdon

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Sadly there are not that many places to stay in Zariquiegui and it is accessible to cars so I suspect finding a bed there is going to be a bit of a problem since it is very close to Pamplona.
 

Mark2012

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Sadly there are not that many places to stay in Zariquiegui and it is accessible to cars so I suspect finding a bed there is going to be a bit of a problem since it is very close to Pamplona.

I suspect this is an issue I'll only figure out how to deal with when my feet are on the ground!

It seems like the best option might be to walk on further than Zubiri on July 5 (which would be a shame, given that I recall from 2012 it is a good stop for getting to know people), get within strike distance of Pamplona, with an eye towards getting to Cizur Menor as early as possible on July 6.

Oh well, if the Pamplona 'problem' proves to be the biggest hurdle of this year's Camino then it will turn out to have been a very smooth 5 weeks! ;-)
 
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It may be blasphemy, but there is a city bus to Cizur Menor, so you can take it for about 1.25E, get a jump on the crowds, and press on to Zariqueigui or Uterga (both on my favorites list) for a mid-afternoon arrival.
 

Mark2012

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Places in both Zariqueigui and Uterga take reservations. While we're talking about blasphemy PM me for suggested ad hoc camping spots!

I may opt for the reservation approach. It goes against the grain for me a little bit, but the potential Pamplona problem is beginning to feel like an extreme circumstance!

I don't think camping would be a good idea for me. I'm never too far away from a full-on hay fever outbreak during the summer months, and something tells me sleeping outdoors overnight would not be a good idea on that front. At home, I sleep with the windows closed, even in high summer - although summer never gets too high in Ireland!
 
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Mark2012

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Places in both Zariqueigui and Uterga take reservations. While we're talking about blasphemy PM me for suggested ad hoc camping spots!

Also, with regard to reservations, how far in advance should I be looking to confirm a slot in either of those places? I'm guessing they keep the majority of bunks open for walk-up pilgrims, with only a minority available for pre-booking?
 

Lily_B

New Member
I'm going to be starting the Camino Frances from St Jean on July 3 this year, and expect to reach Pamplona on Sunday, July 6 - the day the big San Fermin festival is scheduled to begin!

I may or may not want to stop in Pamplona overnight, that's something I want to decide on the day. If I decide that the busy, loud fiesta vibe isn't compatible with my Camino mindset I may well look to walk on to Cizur Menor.

However, I'm wondering about the implications of the fiesta for bunk availability in Pamplona. I saw on a thread in the albergue sub-forum that apparently beds are like goldust during San Fermin, which would make sense for hotels etc., but I asked a question in that thread which has gone unanswered, so I'll ask it again here - does San Fermin make much difference to how busy albergues are? Given the way the distances line up, Pamplona is a natural stop point on day 3/4 of the Camino for many people (even though to do so would be to go against the Brierley guide!!!); so, short of pilgrims choosing to start in Pamplona at that time or timing their departure from St Jean to coincide with San Fermin, I don't see why albergues should be filling up any faster there at that time than anywhere else in July.

Am I missing some vital bit of understanding on this or is it just that Pamplona albergues will be busy in July anyway, San Fermin or no San Fermin?

Thanks in advance!

Hey Mark I'm planning on leaving St Jean the same day as you. Was planning to walk past Pamplona to find a bed but in hindsight will probably just be sleeping under the stars. Do any forum members know whether this will be safe due to the inevitable San Fermin chaos?
 

Mark2012

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Hey Mark I'm planning on leaving St Jean the same day as you. Was planning to walk past Pamplona to find a bed but in hindsight will probably just be sleeping under the stars. Do any forum members know whether this will be safe due to the inevitable San Fermin chaos?

Hey, Lily. I'll be trying hard for a bunk that night! Looking at the information here, it seems like the best bet is to try to stop overnight close to Pamplona and then get through the city as early as is practical the next day.

It's a pity in some respects, as it's a nice city, and would lend itself to at least a lengthy break during the walking day in other circumstances!

I stayed at the municipal albergue there in May 2012, and really enjoyed my night there.
 

biarritzdon

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It may be blasphemy, but there is a city bus to Cizur Menor, so you can take it for about 1.25E, get a jump on the crowds, and press on to Zariqueigui or Uterga (both on my favorites list) for a mid-afternoon arrival.
Falcon, now that you have opened the blasphemy window, I was going to make a similar suggestion to go as far as Puente la Reina by public transportation and escape the madness.
 

Mark2012

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Falcon, now that you have opened the blasphemy window, I was going to make a similar suggestion to go as far as Puente la Reina by public transportation and escape the madness.

I may be bringing trouble upon myself, but I am determined to walk through the madness. Blasphemy notwithstanding, there is no 'wrong way' to do the Camino, but part of the 'spell' for me is the idea of only being transported by my feet for the duration. I managed that in 2012, aside from two minutes in an hospitalero's car in Belorado (it would have been rude to say no given the context at the time!), and I hope to do it again in 2014. I may come to regret that decision if Pamplona is as hectic as I'm starting to realise it may be, but so be it!

I think I'll look to take mspath's advice and reserve a bunk in Zariquiegui for Sunday, July 6. While, generally speaking, I prefer not to pre-book albergues, it looks like the sensible thing to do in this particular instance.
 
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annakappa

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Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Mark, do you have totally fixed dates, as regards your arrival in Santiago? If not and if you have several more days available, why not start on another route? I'm thinking of the beautiful Camino Aragonés, which joins the Francés in Puente de la Reina. You would need about an extra 3 days to add on to your Camino! Remember that everybody leaving SJPP when you do will also be frantically looking for a bed!:mad:. And that could be a lot if people! Anne
 

Mark2012

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Mark, do you have totally fixed dates, as regards your arrival in Santiago? If not and if you have several more days available, why not start on another route? I'm thinking of the beautiful Camino Aragonés, which joins the Francés in Puente de la Reina. You would need about an extra 3 days to add on to your Camino! Remember that everybody leaving SJPP when you do will also be frantically looking for a bed!:mad:. And that could be a lot if people! Anne

Hi Anna,

Thanks for the suggestion, but I'm pretty clear in my head that I want to do the Frances again. I know it's not the ideal time of year for it, but that's the decision I've made. I don't want to get stuck in a bed race, but what I've found over the last two years of walking is that I quite like to start my walking day around 6.30am and getting to my stop point at around 2-2.30pm. Based on what I've read in other threads, I'm hopeful that I should be able to avoid problems with completo signs if I walk to around that schedule most days. Obvioiusly, it looks like things will be a little different around Pamplona, but that'll hopefully be an isolated circumstance!
 

Mark2012

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Mark, do you have totally fixed dates, as regards your arrival in Santiago? If not and if you have several more days available, why not start on another route? I'm thinking of the beautiful Camino Aragonés, which joins the Francés in Puente de la Reina. You would need about an extra 3 days to add on to your Camino! Remember that everybody leaving SJPP when you do will also be frantically looking for a bed!:mad:. And that could be a lot if people! Anne

Also, I think I've read elsewhere that early July doesn't tend to be peak season in terms of pilgrims starting from St Jean, with the official figures suggesting May and August tend to be busier. I know numbers are up year-on-year, but hopefully that suggests things will be at least somewhat manageable for the first couple of weeks of walking, before my wave hits the popular start points deeper into the route. The optimist in me stubbornly believes that it won't feel much different to my first Camino (May/June 2012) - in terms of pilgrim numbers - until reaching Sarria in very late July!
 

mspath

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Also, with regard to reservations, how far in advance should I be looking to confirm a slot in either of those places? I'm guessing they keep the majority of bunks open for walk-up pilgrims, with only a minority available for pre-booking?
These are private albergues. Reserve ASAP!
 
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Jochen_Schmidtke

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I'm going to be starting the Camino Frances from St Jean on July 3 this year, and expect to reach Pamplona on Sunday, July 6 - the day the big San Fermin festival is scheduled to begin!

I may or may not want to stop in Pamplona overnight, that's something I want to decide on the day. If I decide that the busy, loud fiesta vibe isn't compatible with my Camino mindset I may well look to walk on to Cizur Menor.
However, I'm wondering about the implications of the fiesta for bunk availability in Pamplona. I saw on a thread in the albergue sub-forum that apparently beds are like goldust during San Fermin, which would make sense for hotels etc., but I asked a question in that thread which has gone unanswered, so I'll ask it again here - does San Fermin make much difference to how busy albergues are? Given the way the distances line up, Pamplona is a natural stop point on day 3/4 of the Camino for many people (even though to do so would be to go against the Brierley guide!!!); so, short of pilgrims choosing to start in Pamplona at that time or timing their departure from St Jean to coincide with San Fermin, I don't see why albergues should be filling up any faster there at that time than anywhere else in July.
Am I missing some vital bit of understanding on this or is it just that Pamplona albergues will be busy in July anyway, San Fermin or no San Fermin?Thanks in advance!
Hi Mark.
Don´t even dream of getting a warm and dry place to sleep in Pamplona city and even in the wider surrounding of the town during San Fermin! Even the benches in the parks are occupied by drunken Spaniards.
Anyway: Buen Camino
Jochen
 

petitewalker

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I am afraid to say that weekend and the second go round in September is a drunken mosh pit for more than 5 days. There are more broken bottle and puke than bulls running in the streets. But then for each his own. This time of year you can find a lot more interesting places with bull fights and local celebration of bulls running in the street. i.e., Puenta la Reina, Sahagun for example.

I'll be going through Pamplona around September 15th.
What and when is the drunken party there?
Hopefully I miss it.
 

biarritzdon

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I'll be going through Pamplona around September 15th.
What and when is the drunken party there?
Hopefully I miss it.
I wish I could be more helpful, I stayed there on a Friday night 23 September 2011 and the whole night you could hear nothing but revelers and breaking beer bottle, the next morning walking out of town was not a pretty sight and we were told Saturday would even be worse. San Fermin the patron saint of Pamplona died on 25 September, so I don't know if this was the second round of the July festivities or not. I do know there is bull fighting in Pamplona the weekend of 5-7 September this year and that almost always includes running some bulls in the streets and this event is capped off with a fight between horsemen and bulls. You will experience similar fetes and running of bulls in Puenta la Reina, Sahagun and other small towns throughout the bull fighting season on various weekends.
 
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