Watch a bullfight in Pamplona, Spain for San Fermin

The gruesome, centuries-old tradition of bullfighting was on display, as it is every year, during the annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. With friends, I managed to snag the fairly expensive tickets the night before I went running with the bulls.

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During my eight days in Spain: three nights in Madrid, one in Burgos and Vivar del Cid, one in Pamplona, one in Sitges and two in Barcelona.

Eight days in the hub of ancient kingdom turned struggling modern Western European stalwart Spain proved to be among the best trips of my life.

I went Running with the Bulls and saw the first bullfight of my life, but I also had suckling pig at the oldest restaurant in the world, saw more Picassas and Dalis than ever before, ordered tapas, sangria and paella in Spanish, swam in the Mediterranean, visited Gaudi and, of course, did so while reading Hemingway’s the Sun Also Rises for the first time.

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The Sun Also Rises: favorite passages from the 1926 Ernest Hemingway classic

While taking train rides between the northeast section of Spain en route to meeting up with old friends at the San Fermin Festival, there is nothing else to be read other than the 1926 classic novel ‘The Sun Also Rises‘ from Ernest Hemingway, which follows a similar route.

Though some of Hemingway’s other works are seen as challenging, this is more approachable — if a major story line can easily be lost in the first reading, at least for me. Still, the theme of the savagery of love, life and bullfighting seemed to easily hit home. Though bullfighting and the running of the bulls have gone on for centuries, it was Hemingway who helped inspire the romanticism of the sport and festival that attracts people like myself, so it felt right to read it while traveling.

The first third of the book seemed like a period piece. The second third set up the real story for me, and the last third was really the beautiful novel I came to expect.

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