Salamanca and Bull fighting in Guijuelo Spain 17 & 18 August 2013

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August 19th 2013
Published: August 21st 2013
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Salamanca and Bull fighting in Guijuelo Spain 17 & 18 August 2013

It was good to be of the European summer crowds as we headed further south to Zamora and onto Salamanca. This was city known for its twin cathedrals built side by side. It is also home of the oldest universities in Europe. What struck us after we found a park and walked into the city centre (160,000 people) was the beautiful showcase of Renaissance and Plateresque architecture. I had read about the Plateresque architecture style but have never seen examples until now. The buildings have fine detail which resembles ornate silverwork.

The new Cathedral is in 16th C Gothic style and the old Cathedral is 12th to 13th C Romanesque style.

We walked into the centre to the Plaza Mayor which was rimmed with outside dining with multiple Tapas to select from. We couldn’t resist having lunch and choosing 5 different dishes. Interestingly, Tapas originated as an accomplishment to sherry. The name derives from a practice of covering a glass with a saucer or ‘tapa’ (cover) to keep the flies away. Now it is a light snack with drinks, small dishes with 1 or 2 pieces on each plate. Very tasty.

It was another really hot day so it was very pleasant sitting in the shade eating tapas, surrounded by a quadrangle of beautiful buildings.

We then saw the Puente Romano, one of the old bridges in the town. Here we saw wedding photos being taken, and agreed that throughout Europe, brides would have a multitude of backgrounds to select from for their photos.

We found a campsite which was close to the town. All though dry and dusty, the WiFi was excellent, the facilities were extensive, there was a pool and restaurant and people helpful. We heard English being spoken diagonally opposite us in the Park and so took a cold beer across (as you do!) and chatted. They were from Dover. Their French neighbour who was travelling by himself also came and chatted. He had pretty good English. We said goodbye and had dinner outside the camper. Later, the English couple, Pam & Henry came over for another chat. They had been at the camp in Salamanca for over a week.

As a result of Tom asking at reception where we could see a Bull Fight, the next day we drove down to Guijuelo which was about 45 km south where there was a bull fight scheduled for 6.30pm that night (Sunday).

What an experience – a ‘must do’ experience but only once. In country Spain, bull fighting is alive and well. It is a family outing to watch the sport and their showman hero matadors strut their stuff…and kill the bulls. These bulls are bread for their aggression and especially for bull fighting. The bulls apparently live a very nurtured life until their ‘performance’ in the ring. We could understand why the Animal Liberationists are up in arms about the sport. We sat through 6 bulls being killed. We felt we couldn’t leave early. That would be like Collingwood fans leaving at ¾ time when their team was losing. Besides, we were packed in like sardines.

The whole event starts with all the matadors coming out and practicing with their pink and red capes. Then the horses and their riders who are responsible for thrusting the 1st spear in the top of the shoulder of the bull to weaken it, come out. The horse and rider are heavily armored because the bull becomes angry when it is pierced (!!!) and buts under the horse. I thought one horse was going to be history but the matador assistants were eventually able to attract the attention of the bull with their pink capes. The main matadors have red capes. The matador assistants keep attracting the bull’s attention and when the bull goes for them, they run behind the wooden fence for protection. Then 2 main matadors hold 2 spikes and the skill is to put the spikes in the top of the bull’s shoulders. Apparently this is a sizeable skill as the crowd cheered when this was done. Then the main matadors keep attracting the bulls attention and slowly but surely the bull becomes exhausted. With this plus the loss of blood, the bull was in very bad condition and sometimes collapsed to its knees. This is the time when the main matador gets his long spear and plunges it through the shoulders into the heart. If it doesn’t die instantly the assistants do their thing….I can’t even write what they do. I just looked away.

The bull is then dragged away. The matador then struts around the arena and people wave white flags, hats and hankies and then throw their hats in the ring and the matador kisses them and then throws the hats back to the owners. What a performance.

The whole event took 2 ½ hours. We then drove back to Salamanca feeling rather drained. The next morning after some internet work we headed for Portugal.

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