Posts Tagged With: sangria

Plaza de Toros

We were lucky to get tickets to the bullfight at the Plaza de Toros, one of the largest and storied bullrings in the world. On the opening night there were five bullfights and the matadors were on horseback when fighting the toros. We entered the outdoor ,circular stadium and sat on the concrete bleachers. There were a few tourist in the stands but the majority were Spaniards, both young and old, including many large families. It looked as if we were attending a religious cult event with everyone in the stadium wearing  white with red neck scarves.

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The matador entered the stadium on horseback to the loud cheers of the crowd,  which immediately fell silent just moments later when the Spanish fighting bull, weighting well over a thousand pounds entered the ring. It was on. The bull charged and the horse danced out of the way at the last moment, while the matador threw short colorful spears. The spears accumulated and hung from the blood-soaked hump behind the bull’s head. After each encounter, the matador would play to the crowd, lifting his arms to loud applause. The horse and bull seemed to play a form of chicken. From opposite ends of the ring, they charged toward each other; the horse faked one way and then went the other just narrowly missing the horns. As the bull slowed down the matador hung off his horse by his legs and put his hands on the bull’s head, enraging the beast as they raced around the ring. The  agility and fearlessness of the horses amazed me the most, it was the horse that had the most to lose if caught by the toro. Once a bull momentarily fell and the horse ran over and bit it on the back.

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When the bull began to tire from loss of  blood,  three matadors on foot ran him in circles until he fell. Then the lead matador would pull out a long dagger, aim carefully and deliver the death-blow to the spine just behind the head. A team of horses quickly hooked up the carcass and dragged him from the ring. The matador took a slow walk victory lap around the ring, his hat in one hand and he severed the ear of his vanquished foe in the other. The crowd cheered, a few bouquets of flowers landed in the ring as the matador threw the ear to a female fan in the stands.

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I went to this event with an open mind and tried to withhold judgement; who am I to judge a cultural practice centuries old?

That being said,  I was still troubled  and distressed  about the whole thing. I thought multiple glasses of sangria might help. It didn’t.

Categories: Europe, Spain - July 2013 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toro de Fuego

It was ten o’clock at night and Pamplona was in full swing. We were off to Plaza de Santiago to see the Toro de Fuego; The flaming bull. We ended up in a tiny plaza filled with mostly families: small children, strollers. The flaming bull was being prepared at one end, Basically a man underneath a four-foot fake bull that rested on his shoulders leaving only his legs exposed. Atop of the bull’s back was an array of short firework tubes; pinwheels  and rockets.

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We were on the benches as the man stood up and the bull on his shoulders rose above the crowd. The Toro exploded and he started to run through the plaza shooting sparks high into the air. I covered my eyes as he passed, sparks raining down stinging my skin. We joined a group of children and dad’s with toddlers on their shoulders and chased after Toro de Fuego.  Suddenly, there was a loud explosion and flash from the bull’s back as he spun around and started running down the extremely narrow street towards us. The children squealed and scattered, as did we. The pinwheel on his back lit and started to spin rapidly, firing sparks in every direction followed by another loud explosion lighting the length of the street. We looked at each other in disbelief, shaking our heads; did that really just happen. This town is nuts.

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Pamplona casualty #2

Good thing this dude switched to water (water bottle enclosed in his left hand ). Too bad he passed out before he could open it!

Categories: Europe, Spain - July 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sangria

July 7th, Pamplona, Spain. The noon ceremony kicked off the start of the festival of St. Fermin and running of the bulls. On the way to the Plaza de Consistorial, we picked up some water and a few liters of sangria:  You know… when in Rome.

We passed through a police line that took the caps off the plastic bottles so when thrown they would cause less damage; clearly a sign of things to come. We could hear the noise of the crowd as we weaved our way through the narrow streets of this medieval town. We rounded the corner to the plaza and before us were hundreds of people going absolutely mental: singing, chanting, dancing and drinking huge bottles of sangria.

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The air was thick with sangria, literally, thrown from bottles, squirt guns and even buckets and trash cans from balconies: it was basically raining sangria on the revelers in the plaza. It was truly a fiesta, Spanish-style, and everybody was family. Former strangers walked arm and arm, shouting incoherently whilst chugging sangria. Two young fiesta-goers almost knocked each other down and they immediately started apologizing: one said in an English accent, “Are you Spanish?”, the other replied “Si”, the Englishman replied in a shout, “I love you man!” and they hugged, slapping each others’ back. This kind of party would not happen in the States: the authorities would not allow it and Americans aren’t capable of unrestrained affection for strangers.

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It is customary to wear white pants and shirt with a red scarf around your neck and red sash around the waist.  The clock stuck noon and everyone held up their ceremonial red scarfs and began to sing. We enjoyed the festivities for a while and then with our new uniform soaked  pink in sangria we were off to explore Pamplona.

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Pamplona casualty #1

You had to feel sorry  for this guy. Stupid drunk, soaked in sangria, unfocused eyes, unable to speak, with a hard lean on the wall for support.  And it was only 12:30 in the afternoon.

Categories: Europe, Spain - July 2013 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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