Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spanish Bull-shhhtuff

Friday, 9 July 2010, my Belgian roommate and I went to see a novillada (novice bullfight) in Madrid at the Plaza de Toros. We paid 5 euro each for second-row seats in the shade. The fight lasted about three hours total and was definitely an experience. There were three bullfighters, ages 21, 22, and 16. The bulls at the novice fights are young and "small" - less than two years old. One bull did not really want to fight and was lucky enough to be herded out of the ring. Once the disoriented bulls start charging people, then they will be killed. Another bull, who was like a heat-seeking missile as he charged the picadores and bandarilleros, charged a horse (the horses are blindfolded) and flipped it over on its back.

The older two were awful (the Spaniards around us agreed), but the youngest one had the makings to be a good bullfighter. However, he got a bit too close to one bull, which picked him up, tossed him around, then ran him over. The bandarilleros were pretty smart and jumped out really fast to distract the bull while others carried the kid out of the ring. He got to the side, took off his jacket, jumped back over the wall into the ring, and finished the bull. Afterward, it was "halftime," where the toreros walked around the ring. The kid was crying and as the second part started (with the 22 year old, the worst fighter ever), he passed out and was rushed out of the stadium. After seeing the novice fight, it would be interesting to see one professional fight (even if the ticket prices are at least ten times higher) because the pros can kill the bull with one try with the sword, ending the bull's suffering a little sooner. The 21 and 22 year olds took at least 6-8 attempts to make the bull collapse and then had to stab it behind the head to kill it.

On a brighter note, in the seats right next to us were three Americans; two were teachers from Flint, Michigan, and one knows a friend from my university. After the fight, we met up with our Spanish friends to go out by Gran Via to Bar El Palentino, a popular hang-out place (bartender Casto is well-known). Also, my roommate and I finally figured out how the night bus (buo = owl) works in order to get home instead of always taking cabs once the metro closes at 1:30am.

The next day, my roommate and I woke up early to go with one of the Spanish friends to Pamplona. Driving through Spain is beautiful and sharing the gas money saved us each about 20 euro from bus fare and also gave us a clean (if small) place to sleep. We stopped along the way in Burgos, a small little town famous for its cathedral. We did not go inside, but instead walked around the cathedral and its plaza before finding a place to eat. We arrived in Pamplona around 6:00 or 7:00pm, parked the car (outside the center of the city - we didn't want anyone messing with it), walked to the center, and hung out in a park for a few hours until it got dark.

During July 7 through 14 every year, there is the San Fermin festival in Pamplona (San Fermin is the patron saint of the city). People wear all white with red scarves as belts and red bandannas around their necks. People will also spray red wine everywhere - when it stains your shirt, it is supposed to look like blood from a bull gore. There is crazy-intense partying all night for the whole week and the famous running of the bulls takes place every morning at 8:00am. Spain is the most organized country ever - Pamplona gets absolutely trashed and filthy (I would not have been a happy tourist without old pants and closed-toed shoes), but the limpieza has the city clean again by 1:00pm. The actual running of the bulls is extremely overrated - I didn't even know the bulls had passed because there were so many people "running." It was over in less than 45 seconds from where we were standing. In total, it took the bulls less than 4 minutes to get to the end of the track. If I ever go back, I will run for sure.

The fiesta part, on the other hand, is absolutely i n s a n e. It's Spain, so the fiesta literally lasts all night. It's Pamplona during San Fermin so there are thousands of people packing the streets and clubs all night and tons of outdoor music - we even saw Los del Rio playing, the group famous for the "Macarena" song. There were also a surprising number of grown men carrying SpongeBob Squarepants balloons (7, to be exact; I did not count the Patrick balloons). It was fun for the first four hours, until I started to get sick of people pushing me and the creepers creeping around. Basically, the fiesta part of San Fermin is like the craziest/best college party that you've ever been to, but with an entire city and people from all over the world.

Once we watched the bulls run (I was a little far back in the crowd so I had some other Americans take pictures for me), we wandered back to the car to sleep for a few hours before beginning the drive back home to Madrid. We made it back in time to shower and go to Plaza de Colón to watch the final World Cup game between Spain and the Netherlands on the bigscreen with the crowds. All in all, a fun-insane-sleepless weekend.

Oh, and George Clooney is selling churros, whether or not he knows it.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Walgreens Printable Coupons