Pamplona, Spain – the Running of the Bulls!

November 1st, 2010

Legendary Bullrunner Matt Carney said: “You give of yourself when you run the bulls you let it all go your time, your money, your belief, your life, your self, into the wild forms of joy and fiesta.”

When you first arrive in Pamplona it is hard to believe that the quaint little city of Pamplona, home to only 300,000 people, with no regular night-life, would play host to an additional 700,000 people and one of the craziest parties imaginable.

The changes throughout the city became rapid in the days leading up to start of San Fermin. The fences which lined the Bull Run seemed to sprout and grow over night. Shop owners along Estafeta began boarding up their windows on July 5th to protect their property from the inevitable damage the Encierro always causes.

Nothing in Pamplona compares to walking the course that turns into the Encierro (Bullrun) route on July 7th at 8 am. Starting at the Arga river, where the night before the run, the Bulls cross from their holding pens to the Corralillos, up Santa Domingo, past Ayuntamiento, around the infamously dangerous Curva de Mercaderes, down Estafeta, all the way through Old Town to the entrance of the Plaza de Toros, cannot be walked without thinking of the Bulls and the brave that choose to run.

Whether you choose to run, or just watch, your breath is caught in your throat. The power for the animals and the bravery of the people running is astounding. The memories those scenes leave on the runners and spectators are ones of inspiration, significance and impact.

Pamplona is the last legal drug a delirium that doesn’t stop, a communion with absurdity.

- Carmen Rigalt, El Ruedo.




Ushuaia, Argentina – “The Southernmost City in the World”

October 26th, 2010

By Stefanie Payne

While the “southernmost city” claim can be argued, the joy of traveling through Ushuaia is indisputable.  With restaurants, outdoor activities, golf, casinos and endless outdoor attractions – there really is something for everybody in this small city on the southern coast of the Argentine province of Tierra Del Fuego.

With a population of only 64,000, Ushuaia has public transportation, schools, a hospital, and an international airport offering easy arrival and a quick retreat for locales from Buenos Aires and beyond.

The heart of Ushuaia is the Beagle Straight – passage to the archipelago islands off the coast of Argentina and Chile and the path to Antarctica – also known in the region as “The Ice.”  The view over the straight into the vast Antarctic waterways lends a glimpse into the reflective sub-polar mystique of the region.

Set off on a catamaran trip or a kayak into the Straight for a view of the glacial mountains, sea lions, cormorants, and penguins.  Head off in 4×4 jeeps to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park for a day (or 2-day) hike ending with a spectacular sunset.

The slopes of Cerro Castor and Glacier Martial beckon winter-sport fanatics from around the world offering the longest ski season in South America due to the temperate climate.  When the ski season ends, the rocky peaks remain open through the summer with transport to ample hiking trails by way of gondola.

Maybe your trip to Ushuaia is a two day side trip on your Patagonian adventure, perhaps Ushuaia is your jumping off point to Antarctica… or just maybe Ushuaia is your final destination.  Whatever brings your there, you will want to stay.

Recommended reading: This port city was settled on by British missionaries is the early 1900’s.  E. Lucas Bridges – the son of early missionaries – wrote of his home and his relationship with the Yamana and now extinct Fuegian Indians in his highly acclaimed novel of 1947, The Uttermost Part of the Earth.

To get there: Fly direct to Ushuaia from Santiago or Buenos Aires.


Some of Our Favorite Travel-Booking Websites

October 21st, 2010

At CityRoom, we have a hard-core, permanently etched travel bug buzzing within us, the hope of great adventure guides us through our days.  And through our relationships with other like-minded companies, we have an inside view of the world’s leading travel company’s favorite travel resource sites. Some, we have been using for years, others are brand new to us.  Now bookmarked on our computers, we explore the following websites when planning travel excursions, and every once in awhile… just for daydreaming.

Yapta
www.yapta.com

After you’ve booked your trip, register it with Yapta. If the price of your plane ticket falls below what you have paid for it, Yapta will credit you the difference. Money in the bank. But mostly you will find that you bought your ticket at a competitive price.

Farecast
www.farecast.com

An airfare prediction site, Farecast tracks flight demand and fares and will let you know whether airfare prices will increase, decrease, or stay the same. Essentially, they tell you when to buy your ticket.

Kayak
www.kayak.com

Enter your starting point and destination and Kayak will search hundreds of airlines and travel engines (priceline, expedia, etc.) to search for the best price.

AirTreks
www.airtreks.com

Here, you can build your ideal trip selecting many points in the world, buying one way tickets from one destination to another. There may be cheaper ways to organize a round-the-world trip, but if you are with little time but plenty of money, this site is easy to navigate and you can theoretically book your global journey in ten minutes.

For example, I just booked a dummy trip:
NYC to Madrid>Paris>London>Casablanca>Moscow>Bangkok>Bali>Sydney>Fiji>LA>New York.
$3235.00 – which is actually, a pretty good deal for so many flights.  flights.

Happy hunting!


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