Adios Spain

16 Jul 2008, by Brian in Uncategorized

Tonight was our last night in Spain.
We covered a lot of ground today, but before I get into that, I found a decent internet terminal today! This was great for a couple reasons. I have been getting tons of spam and couldn’t seem to reconfigure my filters via my phone… with real internet acces I was able to reset some things on my server and got spam filtering working again, yay! But you don’t care about that, you want to know what’s up with that bullfighting video I promised. So here it is… quality is kinda low (taken on my camera, then converted to flash) but at around 40 seconds you can see the bullfighter get trampled and some guys come out to help him. Don’t worry, he wasn’t hurt (he even came back out to finish):

[MEDIA=23]

So now I guess I should reflect a bit on that… The whole experience was very gruesome. Bullfighting is controversial for a reason… the EU is trying to ban it, and our hosts in Valencia looked down on it, it doesn’t even have wide support in Spain. It wasn’t fun to watch the bulls gored, and really unpleasant to hear them panting and crying. I don’t know if I really buy the bravery aspect of the “sport” as it’s not even close to a fair fight (of course, that’s easy to say when I’m not facing a huge bull). All that said, it was a completely enthralling experience and we were both glad we went, if just once. While I don’t really see the fighters as being brave, they were definitely skilled and graceful, and there is a sort of beauty to the art of it. What I can say for certain is that there are good bullfights and bad ones. Not only does the crowd respond accordingly, but the “good” fights are much less unpleasant to watch. The second and fourth fighters were very skilled and the final blows were swift, effective, and not drawn out for the bull. The fighters were revered like rock stars for it. As these guys were in training we saw all levels, and the third fight was hard to watch, almost disturbing, and the crowd really dosapproved. The thick smell of cigar smoke, the colors of the plaza and the music that accompanied each portion (the brass band was just behind us) made for an all encompassing event. It definitely made a long lasting impression… long enough that I probably don’t need to go again.

Back to the present… this morning we woke up early and said goodbye to Grazalema. Speeding back through fields of sunflowers I tried to beat the time the GPS unit thought I could make to Jerez… at one point I was up 7 minutes but we got stuck behind a tow truck for a few km and I only beat her by 2 minutes. The GPS speaks to us in a British woman’s voice and we have named her Emi. She’s been an indispensible 3rd member of our trip, even if she does give the occasional wrong instruction (turn left in an impossible place, or like today, she took us off the map for a bit when we were flying along the freeway). We swear at Emi briefly, but then she gets us across Jerez to sherry bodegas when we’d be lost without her, and she is our compatriat again.

Today she took us to two bodegas where we tasted everything from light dry sherry to thick syrupy “cream” and super strong brandy. I was driving so I had to spit most of this delicious stuff out, but of course we got some to take home and enjoy. We tried going to the equestrian center but got there at 1:15… forget that they are open until 2, the ticket office closes at 1! I tried to explain how Kim’s mom is a dressage instructor and Kim really just wanted to watch the horses be exercised for a bit, but they wouldn’t let us in without a ticket (for the whole tour we didn’t want to see anyway) and they wouldn’t sell us a ticket since the office was closed. This buearacracy, and the fact that everything is always closed, is something I will not miss about Spain. Siesta is cute and everything until you have more than 1 thing you’d like to accomplish in your day and everything is only open from 10 to 1. So we went back to the hotel to park the car and grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby cafe. We thought we should still see some Flamenco before we leave Andalucia for a 2nd time, and the tourist office was helpful directing us to some places which we were supposed to call first for reservartions. We figured we’d explore the city and check them out first so we knew if we liked the place or not. The first place seemed really nice and we actually caught part of the afternoon show in progress. We made dinner reservations but when we found out they wanted 40€ each for for dinner and thw show we kind of felt our free glimpse in the afternoon was sufficient. So after a few hours’ siesta we walked through town to a nearby restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet and had another really great meal. Kim had calamari (a whole squid, not the fried rings) and I had a super tender sliced pork shoulder, both with a tasty pair of pepper and basil sauces.

So now, well fed and ready for bed, we are trying to pack our various bottles if liquor for the flight to London tomorrow and get some sleep before an early morning drive back to Seville.

We’ve had a much better go at it this 2nd time in Spain, looks like we are learning something about this traveling thing afterall. Adios Spain, until next time, hasta luego.

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