Toro! - Madrid Day 2 - WARNING Graphic!

Trip Start Apr 01, 2009
Trip End Jul 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hostel One Centro

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today, I woke up early to head to the famous El Rastro flea market. I was a little disappointed with the market. Many of the stalls were closed, which I assume would be because it is Easter Sunday, but the stalls that were open sold "market junk," i.e. t-shirts, purses and cheap jewelry. After an hour or so in El Rastro, I decided to head to the famous Museo del Prado for a few hours.

The Museo del Prado ( was outstanding! My favorite artist as a whole was El Greco, but my favorite individual work was the lively Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch ( I spent roughly 2 hours in the museum, which was perfect! I was able to see all the highlights of the museum, as well as take the time to enjoy some of the art work that stood out to me. The museum was crowded, but no where near as crowded as the Louvre, so it made the experience very enjoyable! After touring the museum, I took about a 30 minute break to enjoy the bright sun and rest before the upcoming bull fight at the world famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas.

Before heading off to catch the metro to Las Ventas from the Prado, a street artist's work caught my eye. After chatting with the artist for 20 or so minutes, I found an oil on canvas painting that I really liked! After two or three rounds of negotiations, I walked away with a great abstract of a bull for only 30 euro!

I took a quick 10 minute ride from the Prado to Las Ventas. The metro exit puts you out right in front of Las Ventas, which is a pretty awesome sight to see! After snapping a few photos, I jumped in line to buy my ticket. While in line, I had an old man come up to me and say in Spanish, "Grande Americano, Obama, Obama!" This turned out to be a great encounter because the old man gave me an excellent recommendation on where to sit inside the stadium. Randomly, there was a group of American students in line behind me who asked what the old man was saying. It turned out that the students were from a high school in Asheville, NC!

After buying my ticket, I walked around the stadium to check out the scene. I then entered the stadium, bought a cerveza, and headed to my seat. The stadium actually looked pretty small when I first entered, but quickly learned that the 25,000 person stadium packs people in by giving people seats that are no larger than 12 inched wide! My seat turned out to be right smack in the middle of a group of Spanish spectators and right beside the two drunkest people in the stadium. The two drunk guys were actually very nice! They wanted to tell me all about bull fighting and wanted to know all about America! After about 10 minutes of attempted communication, the bull fight began!

Check out this website to see how the bull fight is composed ( I will label my pictures in numerical order to give you and idea of the composition of the fight. I honestly still don't know what to think about bull fight. Yes, the fight was very violent! There was lots of blood and the bull did not die very quick! It took the matador three or more times to stab the bull in the spine to kill it. My two drunk amigos explained to me that a good matador kills the bull in one stab. I think the banderilleros are the ones with the true cajones! See the video! The one big issue I had with the fight was that the bull is worn down for about 5 minutes before the actual fight occurs, which in my opinion gives the matador a substantial advantage. It is true that the crowed yells Ole when the matador does something good and the matador yells toro to taunt the bull into charging.

After the fight, I stopped by the Museo del Jamón for another Bocadillo de Jamon and went back to the hostel to crash! When I got back to my hostel, a girl had moved into my room. She was from Istanbul, Turkey and worked for BNP Paribas in Paris. She asked if I wanted to grab dinner with some of her Spanish friends, so I happily joined. Went went to the Las Latinas district at around 9PM for some pre-dinner drinks. I didn't realize that most young Spanish people start to eat dinner at around 11 PM at night! I had an amazing time! Pablo, one of the guys we were with, was so nice! He and another guy would not let me pay for dinner! They said it was a tradition in Spain to treat a guest to a meal, so after some convincing, they let me buy the beers! Pablo explained the difference between traditional Spanish tapas and Pintxos that I had in San Sebastian in the north of Spain. Pintxos are essentially tapas laid on a large piece of bread, where traditional tapas normally do not come with bread. We had a great time, staying out very late, but it was all well worth it!
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