Fiesta along the Camino de Santiago
There had been rumours of potential problems finding accommodations in Viana, along the Camino de Santiago. Something about a fiesta – but I figured that this would not be the case, after all, the albergues are only for peligrinos! You need to have your credencial to spend the night.
I think the message I was missing was that there would be little sleep due to the fiestas (Fiesta del Virgen de Nieva) in Viana! They were right! The Spanish certainly know how to party – and party all night long! In fact, this fiesta would cover many days – Friday to Wednesday, although with life on the Camino, I would only see the one day! Nothing like taking in a major cultural experience in Spain – Fiesta!
I entered town to much festivity – everyone was wearing white with the red bandana and sash – the picture in my mind was that of Pamplona – the running of the bulls. Little did I know, but the running of the bulls was about to begin. After checking in at the Viana Iglesia de Santa Maria, a 13th century church with a simple pilgrims hostel attached, it was time to hit the streets. The excitement levels were skyrocketing as it was soon time for the big event!
The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish: encierro, from the verb encerrar,to fence in, to lock/shut up, to pen) is a practice that involves running in front of a small group (typically a dozen) of bulls that have been let loose, on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets. The most famous running of the bulls of course is the world renowed seven-day festival of Sanfermines in honour of San Fermin in Pamplona, although they are also held in towns and villages across Spain. (wikipedia).
The streets were an overflow of white with the dashes of red bandanas and scarves. Everywhere you went, pubs were overflowing with people. Pilgrims, for once, were outnumbered by the locals, all in town for the celebrations! Having just walked from Los Arcos, we were starving – grabbing tapas was all we could manage as we vied for a position at the bar with the locals. The beer and wine flowed and before we knew it, all the tables were removed from the main street – no obstacles for the bulls and the brave men who would line the street. With a bang, the bulls burst onto the scene!
I can’t say for sure how long the running of the bulls lasted, but I can say with certainty that the fiesta lasted far longer than my newly found group of pilgrims. Our albergue overlooked the plaza, full of people dancing in the street, a stage and kids running all around. The party roared through the night (we were told it went Friday to Wednesday). Firecrackers and bungers boomed in the night- at times I was certain they were going to knock down the walls of our albergue as they exploded down below! When we woke the next morning and headed back out on the Camino, it was clear to see the Spanish were not yet done from the previous afternoon, many still out on the street. What a great experience – for an afternoon we lived it up and soaked in the cultural experiences along the Camino and the fiesta in Viana – life in Spain couldn’t be better!
And in the morning, we were off – life of a pilgrim was calling!