I woke up at 06:00, showered, dressed, and walked downstairs to meet Michelangelo so that we could watch the encierro together. After waiting for about ten minutes, I went up to his room, knocked on his door (no answer), and then went back downstairs to the lobby and called him; he was still dead tired from the long hours he had put in the previous day (from travelling and staying up for 28 hours) and slept in instead. So, I walked down to Santo Domingo on my own, through the old town, which was covered in litter and empty in many places (there were several bars that were still crowded inside and out). I then found a spot along the railing by the Museum of Navarre (next to Santo Domingo) to watch the encierro. By the time I reached Santo Domingo (at 06:50), there was already a crowd of onlookers against the railing and I was lucky enough to stand behind some relatively short people – thanks to my height, I was able to see the corral, a bit of the route in front of me, and the end of the Santo Domingo section. I then waited for the fun to start. Later on, some musicians came in to the area and played music. Near 07:30, I watched Dennis (Giovanni’s old friend who we had hung out with last night) enter the course. At 07:50, the first of three benedictions were sung to the statue of San Fermin at Santo Domingo; then the other two benedictions followed, finishing just before 08:00. At 08:00, the first rocket was fired and the fighting bulls were released from their corral. Once all the fighting bulls had been released, the second rocket was fired (although, through the excitement, I don’t even recall hearing the second rocket). I watched the bulls charge down the street and at one point one of them most have broken from the pack because I saw some runners start to run backwards and push up against the walls, but the danger soon passed and most of the runners this close to the starting point just stood around and walked off the course, completely uninterested in running the distance to the Plaza de Toros. Also, after the fighting bulls had passed, many onlookers left immediately, completely unaware that the steers (with their cowbells) would soon be released (not that this is very exciting or really worth staying for, but most seemed to have no clue that it would happen. I stayed to watch to the steers be released and then walked on back to the hotel. I was still very tired from yesterday and decided to go back to sleep.
Later on, after 13:00, I woke up to see Giovanni standing over my bed in the dark; he had been calling my name several times and thought I might be dead due to my deep sleep. After I had woken up, he asked me if I wanted to go to the Norwegian party (at 14:00) that Dennis had invited us to the night before and to the bullfight later today. I told him I was too tired to go to the party, but I was interested in attending the bullfight. The plan that had been developed was for us to meet up at 17:00, buy tickets from scalpers, and then watch the fight (from 18:30-21:??). Giovanni then went up to Michelangelo’s room to try and get tickets to Barcelona or Rome for the following day to continue his travels through Europe. He eventually returned to my room for a while before taking off to go to the Norwegian party (which he said was a blast). Later on, around 16:00 (after relaxing in my room for a while more and taking a short stroll outside through the old town), I met up with Michelangelo and we had lunch together at one of the food stalls behind the hotel; we shared a plate of meat (two types of sausage, ribs, and chicken) and a plate of fried pieces of potatoes with ketchup and mayonnaise; we also each had a sangria. We then walked toward the Plaza de Toros and met up with Giovanni shortly after 17:00. Next, Michelangelo (the Spanish-speaking member of our party) walked from scalper to scalper to try and buy reasonably priced tickets to the bullfight. We finally found one selling tickets in the “Sol” side (i.e. unshaded side of the stadium) for 40 euros (a markup from 12 euros). We bought three tickets (each separate from each other) and then walked to a nearby bar (“Hemingways” – how original) where we each got a cup of beer. After walking out of the bar, Michelangelo realized he had dropped his ticket in the bar when he paid for the beers; so he went back, but the ticket was gone. He ended up having to buy another one, which ended up being for the lower section and a much better seat (still 40 euros, a markup from 22 euros). We then entered in to the stadium and tried to convince the ticket checkers to let us sit together, but none of them would budge (it ended up being a full house – or nearly – so I can understand their reluctance to bend the rules. We each ended up sitting in our respective sections according to tickets. I never did see Giovanni across from where I was (he ended up sitting with the group of Americans we had done the encierro tour with last night and who we tried to meet up with outside the stadium); I did see Michelangelo enter in to his respective section, but lost sight of him. I ended up sitting to the far right in my section (numero 10) and thus wound up in the shade.
At 18:30, the bullfight formalities began with the introduction of the presidente and the parade of bullfighters. Then, the first fighting bull was released. The fight began with the tercio de varas (where the toros tested the bull with their capotes and one of the picadors lanced the beast), continued on to the tercio de banderillas (where each of the three banderilleros attempts to plant two banderillas in the bull’s shoulders), and finally ended with the tercio de muerte (where the matador performs the faena with his muleta and then performs the estocada with the estoque de verdad (“real sword”) and stabs the bull in the heart to kill it). The first matador up was Juan Jose Padilla (who wore an eyepatch and was 42-years old – no longer a young and completely fearless talent (this seems to happen to all bullfighters as they edge and dance too closely with death)). I thought his faena was sloppy, but he did perform a good estocada, killing the bull with one stab of the sword; the bull quickly went to his knees and keeled over. The second bull was fought by Pepe Moral; his faena was better and he stood his ground more as opposed to Juan Jose Padilla who had constantly moved with his muleta; however, his estocada was terrible, having to use three swords before the bull went down and was put out of his misery (the crowd rightly booed and jeered him). The third bull was fought by Alberto Lopez Simon and was a big improvement over the last two bullfighters; Alberto Lopez Simon had great art with his faena and a decent estocada where he used one sword which eventually did the job (the bull wandered around for a brief time as blood poured out of his mouth before he finally fell to the ground. For his performance, Alberto Lopez Simon was awarded one ear by the presidente. The fourth bull saw the return of Juan Jose Padilla; I thought his faena still looked sloppy and it ended up taking three swords to kill the bull during his estocada. With the fifth bull, Pepe Moral performed an okay faena and he took the bull with one sword during the estocada; however, this proved to be a painful kill and the bull only died after about a minute of spewing out liters of blood along the edge of the bullring. The sixth bull was fought by Alberto Lopez Simon; with this final bull for the day, Simon performed a great faena (he was the only matador who kneeled before his bulls with the muleta and stayed the most still) and a great estocada; he was then deservedly awarded the bull’s two ears, which he threw in to the audience as he walked around the ring and the fans cheered (he totally made this bullfight worth watching). Later, Alberto Lopez Simon was carried out of the ring by his men and cheered some more.
I then left the stadium (at 21:20) and met up with Michelangelo outside. We both tried looking for Giovanni, but did not see him (unfortunately, we departed before coming up with a place to meet after the fight, so he never got word of our plans). We then decided to head back to the hotel to see if he would show up there since he still had my second key to the room. Upon reaching the hotel, I found that he had shown up already and gone with all his things, obviously back to his own hotel room. Michelangelo also found that he had been texted by the American girl from the group we had planned to meet up with at the ring. We then decided to try and meet with the Americans at an Italian restaurant in the Plaza del Castillo. So, we walked over to the plaza, found the restaurant, but did not see the Americans. We then decided that we were both hungry enough to have a late dinner and ended up eating at the Italian restaurant (we shared breadsticks (with olives, roasted tomatoes, and onions – each separated on different sticks), a pizza (with goat’s cheese, prawns, boiled ham, mushrooms, artichokes, and red peppers – each separated on the pizza, forcing us to cut it in such away where we could both try each topping), and a bottle of Tempranillo. After we had finished eating and as we were finishing our bottle of Tempranillo, the American girl showed up, having seen us from the balcony of the apartment their group was renting. We then ordered another bottle of Tempranillo and shared it with her. Then, as the restaurant was closing, we paid our tab and walked up to the apartment, where we had some cocktails. We hung out in the apartment for a while, but after two of her friend went beddy-byes on the couches, Michelangelo, the American girl, her good friend, and I went back out to the Plaza del Castillo to drink some more. We stayed out very late and eventually parted ways around 05:30 (Michelangelo and I were both talking about running in the encierro later that morning, something that obviously – to all sober people anyway – wasn’t going to happen). We then walked back to our hotel but eventually realized we were in a part of the city that was wholly unfamiliar to us. Luckily, I had a map and Michelangelo wasn’t too inebriated and therefore able to lead us back to the hotel. I went up to my room and soon passed out. I completely failed to wake up at 07:00 for the encierro and would go on sleeping until after 11:00.