Running Of The Bulls Comes To America

klmcmahon, Flickr

Daredevil tourists no longer need to head to Pamplona, Spain to be chased by bulls. A company called The Great Bull Run is bringing a stampede of Spanish-inspired bull runs to ten cities across the United States. About 5,000 people have already signed up to take part in the first festival, which will take place later this month just outside of Richmond, Virginia.

These bull runs, however, are nothing like the original Running of the Bulls. The bulls won’t be running through streets to a stadium: instead, they’ll chase people sprinting down a quarter-mile track. Those who don’t want to risk being marred by bulls can watch their matador wannabe friends from the stands, or take part in the capitalization of another tradition. The company is also hosting a tomato fight inspired by La Tomatina (which actually takes place in Valencia, Spain). For a fee, participants can join a massive food fight and not have to worry about cleaning up afterward.

“This is the real deal, modeled after the famous San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, but without all the time and money required for a trip to Europe,” boasts the creators of the event on their website. But really, there is nothing real or authentic about this.

Google Makes Travel Easier For Lazy People

Google Takes on Hawaii's Hiking Trails
Google’s ongoing world digitization is opening up some very cool travel experiences to people sitting in front of their laptops and tablets. Now, rather than spending thousands of dollars, lots of vacation time and a decent amount of physical exertion to see these places, you can arrive by a click and multi-task your exploring as you commute to work, procrastinate a project or tune out in a meeting.
Last fall Google Maps debuted a “street view” of the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs, allowing armchair travelers with no diving or even swimming ability to take a peek at the world’s greatest underwater treasures.

More recently the site teamed up with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to feature Hawaiian hiking trails on Google Street View. Hiking guides on the Big Island will carry Google’s cameras on roughly 20 of the Islands’ best trails, stitching together a 360-degree experience that people can enjoy anywhere.

Another recent addition to Street View will please Harry Potter fans who can’t make the trip across the pond to London’s Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Muggles can now tour Diagon Alley and the wizarding shops it houses through Street View.

Google Maps isn’t the only thing bringing travel experiences to the masses. Though still in its infancy, Google Glass is expected to change the way people document and share their travel experiences. This year a Running of the Bulls competition invited two Google Glass users to Pamplona to view the annual San Fermin festival events. While the Glassers aren’t expected to actually run with the bulls (too bad, that’s something we wouldn’t mind having Google do for us!), they’ll be watching the bull run from a balcony and sharing the experience via a daily webcast.

It’s doubtful that Google’s online presentations will actually keep people from wanting to experience these places in real life, but we’re intrigued about what other experiences will become available to interactive travelers. Climbing Mount Everest? Surfing Jaws? Space travel?

Where do you want your maps app to take you next?

Video Of The Day: Woman’s Painful Escape While Running With Bulls

A woman narrowly outruns a trio of bulls stampeding through the streets, only to find herself having a run-in of a different kind. Her painful escape is a reminder that running of the bulls ceremonies often result in serious injuries, most of which aren’t directly caused by bulls. In Pamplona, Spain, the most famous location for this type of event, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the runs each year. Most injuries are minor, but according to Wikipedia, 15 people have been killed in Pamplona since record keeping began in 1924 – most by goring or suffocation. If the idea of being chased by bulls still sounds like a good time, the tradition is running strong in cities and towns throughout Spain, Portugal and Mexico.

[Video: Mortationparkour on YouTube]

BBC mapping tool Dimensions creates unique mashups

Ever wondered about the size of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome? Or the how long the infamous Running of the Bulls route is in Spain? The BBC has a great new mapping tool, called Dimensions, to help give visitors and interesting perspective on these unique sights, historical marvels and famous events. Dimensions drops the outline of famous cities, tourist hot-spots and historical points of interest onto a Google Maps view of any postal zip code, creating a uniquely personal context for these well-known places.

To give Dimensions a try, stop by the BBC’s new website, over at www.howbigreally.com. You’ll be presented with nine different topics to map, pulled from a mix of news topics and places: The War on Terror, Space, Depths, Ancient Worlds, Environmental Disasters, Festivals, The Industrial Age, World War II Battle of Britain and Cities in History. As you browse the various choices, dropping the maps onto your hometown, unique insights come to light. For instance, who knew the camp at Nevada’s Burning Man Festival was bigger than the Chicago Loop? Or that the circumference of the Moon is about as big as the entire United States?

BBC Dimensions isn’t just a fun toy. Taken in the larger context of journalism and travel, it represents an innovative way to put news stories and tourist destinations in perspective. Our experience of the world is ultimately derived from what we know. By helping us understand important places in a new way, BBC Dimensions makes the abstract something more than mere stories in a newspaper or photos in a guidebook. A new type of map to help us make sense of the world.

Photo of the Day (06.14.10)

Ever been in a situation that caused you to analyze every decision you made leading up to you arriving in that moment? I remember one time when I was on stage at a sex show in Amsterdam. There was a man in a gorilla suit that was – shall we say – anatomically correct. And his phallus discharged a liquid that I dearly hope believe was water. I don’t know why I was on that stage nor do I recall what my role in the audience participation segment of that show was. I just know that it was awkward. And erotic.

As for the gentleman on the ground in this photo by Flickr user MurrayJ3, well, he’s probably screwed. And he most certainly wonders how the hell he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. One can only assume that alcohol and/or hubris was involved. But probably just alcohol.

Have you run with the bulls in Pamplona? Have pictures of other amazing festivals or wild travel adventures? Upload them to our Flickr pool and we might choose your photo to feature as a Photo of the Day.