Published: July 24th 2012July 22nd 2012
It's never going to end well for the bull.
* Warning, some animals were harmed in the making of this blog.
As we all know, 2012 has been a most wonderful summer in the UK, glorious sunshine for weeks on end and not a drop of rain...
OK, a complete lie and it has been a terrible summer so far, so I was glad that I'd actually had a few days of sunshine ahead to break the monotony of the dreary British summer. Arranging to meet old collage friend Linda in the south of Spain, olé!
Normally I'm so organised when travelling, always at the airport with plenty of time, never missed a flight etc. however after completely forgetting that normal people tend to go on holiday this time of year when I arrived at Gatwick I realised I'd made a bit of an error as the queues were horrendous and I realised I was cutting it a bit fine. Anyway, I just managed to drop off my bag and boarded everyone’s favourite orange airline to Malaga, yet I had an uneasy feeling that something wasn’t quite right..
Still, as the plane began its descent in to Malaga airport and the gleaming towers of Torremolinos came
The light of God
Seville cathedral bell tower or La Giralda, those Catholics enjoy a good church
in to view, the sun was shining and I felt so very happy to have finally left the grim rain of London behind. However the joy was short lived as I found out my bag would not be enjoying the sunshine with me as it somehow decided it would remain in Gatwick for an extra couple of days. Still, it is the first time I’ve every lost a bag and with all the flights I’ve done I guess that isn’t such a bad success rate really.
So once the admin was done, we picked up the hire car and headed away from the Costa del Sol (thankfully) and drove north towards Seville. We stopped for a quick lunch of some jamon and quesa in the town of Osuna and then carried on to Seville in the glorious sunshine. Of course with all my maps in my AWOL bag, trying to find the hotel was a bit of an adventure and some very dodgy driving by yours truly we finally located our hotel in the ‘La Macarena’ district of the city.
Bags unpacked (ahem) and it was time to hit the cobbles of Seville, I was glad our hire
A side view of the cathedral this time
car was safely parked (not by me!) in an underground car park, I don’t think we saw one car without any scratches on the bumpers. The La Macarena area was very pretty, full of tiny cobbled streets (leave the car) and felt a bit less touristy that than other parts of the city and drinking an ice cold Alhambra beer in Alameda de Hercules is highly recommended. We headed further in to the city and had some tapas and sangria near the cathedral and of course I had to do some emergency shopping and generally soaked up the atmosphere of the city, olé!
The next day and still no suitcase, the hair frizz alert level had gone up a notch by this point, but undeterred it was back into the city and first stop was the cathedral and a climb up the La Giralda bell tower. The cathedral was pretty impressive, not quite as gordy as some catholic ones I’ve seen and it had a very pretty little courtyard, it was all a bit Moorish. The views from the bell tower were great and it gave me the first view of the bull ring, I’d forgotten we were in
Garden of Eden?
The courtyard in the cathedral, very pretty.
the land of the bull fight and I was a little intrigued.
Next up was the Real Alcázar, the royal palaces in Seville, not having a guidebook on me, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I wasn’t disappointed. Originally a Moorish fort it has been modified by subsequent monarchs and is still in use today by the Spanish Royal family, lucky people.
The palace has some lovely Moorish rooms and of course lots and lots of tiles but I was actually most impressed with the gardens (even though I have a personal dislike of gardening these days after my enforced slave labour as a child, you know it Ceddy!). The pool of Mercury (not the metal by the way, which would be a bit too strange) was fantastic and the garden was awash with lots of lovely palm trees, always a good thing. And we even found a small castle in the far corner, not sure if the current Royals lock people away there, but I am sure if it was mine, I’d put anyone who angered me in there.
After tearing myself away from my next home, the sightseeing continued and we took a walk
My what big columns you have
Inside Seville Cathedral, quite impressive
down to the river and the El Arenal part of town. Famous sights include the Torre del Oro (gold tower) and of course, the bull ring. As we approached the bull ring I noticed that there was a bull fight on that very day. Hmm, moral dilemma time, half of me hated the thought of it but then I was also very curious about what actually goes on and was keen to see it.
Having attended many talks by Reuters journalists at work, I decided to follow their lead and just report what I see and not to make a moral judgement on what I’m witnessing, it’s how the professionals deal with it, so I thought I’d do the same. Also the fact it may be banned at some point also meant I wanted to see it while I can. Anyway, tickets were bought and then thoughts turned to more pleasant pastimes for the early evening, Flamenco! Olé!
Now I like a bit of Spanish music (Ricky Martin is a legend) and I like a nice frock, so the combination of the two was appealing and it wasn’t disappointing. We headed to an early evening show before the
Streets of Seville
Very pretty to take a stroll down but I don't recommend trying to fit a car down here, not fun.
bull fight to ensure we had the full Andalucían tourist experience that evening. An hour and a half later I have vowed I was going to learn Flamenco and purchase a nice dress with spots on, it was amazing although I suspect they do suffer a little from bad knees in their old age. There were a selection of dancers in the show, one very angry looking lady who stomped for Spain and then another guy who looked like something out of a 1970s Brylcream advert, but that aside his dancing was amazing, they all were. I’d highly recommend a flamenco show, it was excellent. Olé!
Then it was time for the bull fight, starting about 10.30pm we entered the arena to almost a full house. The actual stadium was a really nice building until you realise its purpose, we found our seats and were surrounded by a mix of old Spanish ladies with their fans and American tourists who didn’t quite realise what they might be witnessing that evening. As the crowd were seated and the band played the ‘Corrida’ began. This is the traditional form of bull fighting which consists of three matadors each fighting two bulls,
The Metropol Parasol
Anyone else fancying a waffle about now?
helped by their picadors and banderilleros. They all looked quite well turned out though, seems that pastel pinks and sequins are a must for the fashionistas of the bull ring!
At this point it was quite exciting but I also had a bit of a sense of dread, the Old Dears in front of us were loving it and frantically waving their hankies at the handsome young matadors and it was game on. At the sound of a trumpet (this must be where they get it from in the cricket, Olé!) the matadors hid behind the screens around the ring and the first of the magnificent bulls was released to their fate. At this point it is quite entertaining as the bull has the upper hand but once it begins to tire and they stick in some extra spikes in its back, you can see the poor thing start to get tired and you know the end is nigh.
The final part of the fight is the main matador and the now exhausted bull in a final last fling where the matador shows of his cape skills much to the delight of the bloodthirsty old ladies. Then the
matador picks up his sword from the sidelines and the crowd all ‘ssh’ in unison and an eerie silence spreads across the stadium as the matador goes in for the kill.
I didn’t really know what to think, I found I had been rooting for the bull all the way through and decided it really is a bit medieval and there is no need to kill the poor bulls. Especially as this was repeated five more times that evening. I don’t think I will attend another bull fight again, not really for me and also a bit disturbing that I was hoping the matadors got trampled. Next time I’ll stick with just the flamenco.
Next morning it was time to say ‘adios’ to Seville and ‘hola’ to Ronda, of course my suitcase still hadn’t turned up but I was assured that I would be reunited with belongings in the Pueblo Blanco. After finally navigating the narrow streets of Seville we headed south and over the hills towards the town of Ronda for a relaxing time in the hills. The drive took us through a town called ‘Moron’ to our delight, it was rather childish but lots of fun
Torre del Oro (More Moor)
I probably should have crossed the street to take a photo then I wouldn't have the lovely traffic light in, but it was 44C and walking was tiring.
to drive through a town and point at the locals and legitimately call them a ‘Moron’, oh it didn’t get old!
Ronda is in what was once known as ‘Bandit’ country, still I had nothing to steal so I wasn’t worried, after a little trouble in finding the hotel, finally locating it just out of town below the steep town walls and next to the Arab baths and bridge. We took a stroll up the steep steps and around the old part of town and then crossed the famous three layered Puente Nuevo which is not for those without a head for heights, but very spectacular. The town itself certainly lived up to its ‘Pueblo Blanco’ name, it is incredibly pretty and full of beautiful cobbled streets to wander around.
The hotel was lovely and had a very pretty pool which I made a beeline to straight away. After a nice dip and rest I finally had some good news and was reunited with my long lost suitcase, Olé! After already had climbed up the steps once that afternoon, we were lazy and went to the restaurant just up from the hotel which turned out to be one
Fancy a ride?
The smell of the horses were a little over powering in the heat of the city
of the best decisions of the holiday, they had the best chips I’ve had in ages and dirt cheap beer and sangria, it was so good we went back the next night!
This was only my second visit to Spain and just makes me realise I need to go back and see much Moor of it, and of course it was so lovely and hot. Next time I will skip the bull fight but the flamenco and sangria will definitely remain on my list. Of course now back in London it is time for the greatest show on earth to begin, initially I was cynical but now I’m looking forward to it a lot, London is gleaming and very exciting, come on Team GB!
There are more photos below