So you wanna fight?

Trip Start Jun 01, 2002
Trip End Sep 11, 2007

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Flag of Spain  ,
Monday, April 28, 2003

Travel Tip 286: If someone tells you that Madonna is at Monstret Monastry in Barcelona, do not believe them I saw her "live" on MTV in the USA. And they call her Lady Madonna here!! Give me a break! :-)

¿Halo Amigos?,

Check out my Spanish (Ricky Martin has nothing on me!) Well here I am in sunny Barcelona, where the sun is shining and the sun is shinning (just wanted to rub it in again), the people are smiling and everything is chaotic. Would not have it any other way. Now I normally use this journal to share with you my mis adventures, but I am very sorry to say that things so far have gone so smoothly (actually too smoothly).

With an afternoon flight from Gatwick in London to Barcelona and through customs all within record breaking time, the task of finding a hostel centrally within Barcelona and the La Rambla (Main st). Normally this would be a problem - one with the language and two with the peak season coming in trying to find accom. With a quick phone call to the most centrally located hostel I can find - bang had a room within 5 mins. I think using the line "Aloa, my name is Justin from AUSTRALIA", helped alot. Onto the metro system (this time with my daypack locked, not getting my shit stolen this time) and into the Hostel in record time. Out for a wonder around and a coffee and all is going to plan nicely - who said this travel thing was hard???

Spent the first day being very very touristy, seeing La Sagrada Familia which is really the main attraction - a mammoth Church that started being built in the 1890's and was not completed because the main artichetect died in a road accident (he was hit by a tram) - so anyway the city is continuing the building off models and plans and it is not expected to completed for another 60-80 years - amazing place. As you walk in you actually walk into a construction site!! A must when you visit and if time permits catch the lift to the top of the tower for breath taking views. As the weather is better than perfect, days consist of late awakens, mindless wondering, sleeping in parks and people watching/photography. Oh forget to ask - how is work going??

Ahh Spain, has allowed me an opportunity to catch up with my parents who are own their Spain and Italian adventures, great to catch up and talk about the past year of activities and mis adventures!! Also no more slumming it in Hostel style, lets put it this way for 3 days I do not need share a room with 8 other snoring travellers - thanks guys!!

But yesterday a highlight:- Before you all get on my back, hear (or read) me out. When in Rome do what the Romans do (whatever they do) but when in Spain, do what the Spainish do - Bull fights on a Sunday afternoon!

Yes I will be the first to admit that I had (and still do) have very mixed feelings about the event, but let me tell you what it is a definitely a must see (even if you do walk out half way as others did). But let me try and paint you a picture:-

Take 1 male Spainard, who has been training since 6 years old. Take this man at about the age of 25 and put him in Ballariana shoes, pink socks, colourful tights that cannot go any higher or cement themselves in any other creavas. Then place a sequined jacket on him (Elton John style) and call him a Matador! I kid you not - you have to see it to believe it!!. A bull fight I was told is fought out like a play - over 3 acts of fighting and each of them are sickening in their own way.

In short, it is not a fair fight at all - the bull not only gets taunted by the Matador and his 6 other mates, but has to withstand horseman plunging spears into the back of his neck (this is to ensure the neck is lowered to make it more of a fight) The Matador then shows off his brut and agility, by running up towrads the bull and piercing it with smaller spears (again at the back of the neck), avoiding being struck by the horns of this massive thing!

At this stage, let me tell you the bull is not too happy about the situation and out of the 6 separate fights, their is a fair amount of blood splashing around - the brething rate of the bull is at a peak and with the blood loss, most of them are loosing there balance (and this is meant to be fair)?.

I honestly only thought it was on Bugs Bunny (best represenataion of a bull fight by far) that the bull flicks up the dust when about to charge - I kid you not! And as he charges at lightning speed, this is where you see the men, run behind their protective barriers... hmm something a bit of a miss here.

From this point, the team of colourful dressed tough men, taunt the bull by waving red and pink capes to get it's attention. And this is where I had to admit it, but the skill of the Matador does come in, the ability to control this bull through mental (and previously physical) contact. The ability to have the bull to run past you and brush past you without the fear of having your legs ripped from your body. It is very hard to explain words and I hope my photos do, do it justice.

The bull (weighing in at an average 550kg) is very tired by now and the Matador is preparing for slaughter, this is what brings the statidum to hush, a complete silence and buzz is sent around the crowd. As the Matador focuses and prepares his little routine - which involves alot of hip thrusting and "olahas". With a flick of his wrist, the bright red cape attracts the bulls eys and he charges again; at the same time the Matador, the so called "hero" slides past the beast and launches himself into the air and pierces that bull from above through the body aiming for the heart (for a quick death). These last steps of actions, put the crowd in a frenzy - if done correctly. If mis-timed, the bull receives his revenge by ravaging the Matador (witnessed a number of times), whilst his mates make lame attempts to get is attention away from the guy who tried to kill him!

Do not get me wrong, the crowd has more involvement then I expected, the cheers are ear blasting when skill and agility is shown, but Spainsh shouts of "coward" and "boos" are thrown when the bull is unfairly treated with unsportsmanship attacks (work that out and say fair). What stuck with me, was the last afternoons fight that I witnessed, a near perfect fight that went wrong when it took him 4 attempts to finish the bull - this was seen as "bad play" by the crowd who did not cheer or appeal to the chairman of the fight for a reward for Matador. So this guy went from hero status to a nothing in a matter of minutes - amazing to watch and listen too. From there the bull is pierced through the brain to ensure dead and dragged away, while the ground is swept away for the next fight. All in all taking approx 15 mins per fight!!!

All in all it was an experience, I will not foget. It is very hard not to get involved with the cheers and banters and this would not be for everyone. Would I go again? Not likely. Do I think it is a cruel sport - of course I do. But will it stop if I and all the other tourists stopped going - not likely. This is done all over Spain as tradition and will continue for the next 500 years!! So there you have it - I will probably have an email box full off complaints and abuse from everyone - but what would be different from any other day ;-)

Talking about bull fights, I had to try and get train tickets to Madrid and after securing the last of the spaces available using my skills of charades and crap phrases I am off to Madrid to fly to Chicago. Just because I wanted a challange, I decided to book a train that arrives in Madrid at 7am and I have to try and get to the airport and check in by 11am from my flight out of the country.... This could be interesting and am sure will make an interesting tale to tell!

Until next time take care

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