The last stop of our whirlwind road trip led us to a region of Spain which technically can’t even be described as such: Navarra is one of Spain’s autonomous communities (like the Basque Country), fully equipped with it’s own parliament and government. Some of the people living in Navarra even go as far as to refuse to speak Spanish with foreigners and insist on communicating in Basque instead.

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After a long and tedious drive up north all the way from Murcia (only bearable thanks to the  sightseeing stops we made in Alicante, Valecia, Zaragoza, and Pamplona), we finally reached our destination – a small town called Estella – at 3 o’clock in the morning. After all three hotels in town turned us down, the boys and I were forced to spend the night in our car. Easier said than done when you’ve got 3/4 of the vehicle jam-packed with luggage and 2 out of 3 passengers are over 6 foot tall – but hey, we managed!

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                                            bed, bathroom, closet – flexibility is the key when you’re travelling!

Why did we choose to end our trip in such a remote place? It just happened to be fiesta season – the time of year in which many Spanish towns and cities host the traditional fiestas de toros. These are usually one-week spectacles, consisting of the famous encierro de toros (Running of the Bulls), live concerts/performances and lavish wining & dining. Basically, these things are party marathons, causing the entire town’s population to go crazy seven days in a row (drinking starts as early as 11 am). One of the university students we met in Murcia invited us to drive up and spend the festivities with her friends and family – how could we say no?

Together with Nerea and her friends, we watch the official opening of the festival (think traditional costumes, marching band, gunshots and champagne) and then continued to bar-hop all over town. Every place we went to offered either beer or vino con kas (red wine with orange soda) and a small piece of fried food for a moderate price of 3 – 5 €. After several rounds of drinks in various locations, we had lunch at a gigantic wooden table, which was set up in the middle of the street and almost collapsed from the amounts of food and drinks it carried. Delicious salads and  paella, fifteen Spanish girls and one German – I believe my two male travel companions from Jordan thought they had reached Nirvana…

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lunch

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At six in the evening, it was time for the first encierro de toros. Suddenly, people swarmed into the streets from every direction, all dressed in red and white and ready to run with the cows. I didn’t know what was going on until I heard a loud PANG! and saw masses of people running towards the narrow alleyway I was standing in – followed by two very angry-looking bulls! I had barely enough time to climb over the wooden barricade and take a photo before the whole shebang was already over.

Afterwards, young and old continued to celebrate in the streets – supposedly until the next race at 8 o’clock in the morning. At the prospect of having to drive back to Barcelona early in the morning (and with a killer headache), the boys and I capitulated at 4 am and went to bed – god knows how Estella’s locals survive a week of this madness!

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(Previous stops of our trip: Barcelona, Sitges, Murcia)

If you’ve missed part 1 and 2 of my road trip through spain, be sure to read them here and here.