Running of the bulls is very famous in Spain and I had the opportunity to see it in person and there was also was a street party in a town called Ontinyent, about an hour’s drive away from Valencia city centre. I found out about the event through meetup. It was like the EU on wheels; there were the Spanish and a German in one car and Eastern Europeans and me, the Brit, in the other. Ontinyent is a lovely little town and when we got there it was very quiet, being a Saturday this was unusual. However, most of the town was partying and preparing for the running of the bulls.
You can’t go to see the running of the bulls on an empty stomach, so we had lunch beforehand. The restaurant was in a small square, and in Spanish style, alfresco. We had unlimited drinks, but I don’t drink so I couldn’t get my money’s worth with that one. Meanwhile, we waited nearly an hour for the first tapas (small dishes) to arrive. The whole table was hungry and the tapas didn’t satisfy, so we awaited the next tapas. In my opinion, you can never get full on tapas and it’s far more expensive than ordering a proper meal. The tapas dishes included salad, seafood, and liver, but the strange thing was we were served sandwiches at the end of the meal. I was so confused and so were the rest of the foreigners. Thus they demanded some cake, we got ice cream, but we were happy.
The street party
By the time had got to the area where the bull running was taking place, the street party had already started. There was packed streets of people drinking and loud music blaring out from people’s house and shops, and bands playing marching rhythms. The group split into two, one group went to go on get some drink and myself and others went for a walk.
Having my camera bought a lot of attention and people wanted me to take a photo of them, then a group outside a community hall invited me in to watch the marching band. They told me that they play marching songs as they would have done before a battle, and it’s still a part of their culture today. We lined up to march as the music played. I found it quite funny, to be honest, plus it wasn’t something to be taken seriously anyway, especially as they were drunk or on their way to being drunk. The other people that I was walking with continued on without me and they returned to get me. I had fun, but after awhile I wanted to see the bull running.
Running of the bulls
Bull running and bull fighting are controversial topics in Spain and anywhere else in the world it would have been banned. However, the guy who organised the trip told me that the bulls are not harmed during this event. Despite my reservations, I picked a spot and watched with amazement how these people were crazy enough to run in front of a bull. There were four bulls in total and they had something on the end of their horns so it wasn’t so dangerous for the participants. The participants were a mixture of professionals and the general public. For those who were not running, they were drinking.
There were two aims for this event, to get drunk and not to get hit by the bulls.