On my second day in Madrid, I already had the city figured out, and since I got a chance to explore the city yesterday, today was about experiencing more of the Spanish culture. I got my tickets to the bullfight and was really excited. But first, I had the challenge of finding something to eat for lunch during "siesta". Because of the harsh climate, and the heat "siesta" is observed during which some citizens take a break to cool off. Kids and off from school, and their parents take time off from their jobs to see their families and spend so time together. Again, they work to LIVE! So with restaurants, eateries being closed during this time, I had to resort to eating at Subways. Normally back in the states, I eat at Subways a few times a week, but I didn't want to go all the way to Spain to eat at Subways :)
After getting some food it was off to Plaza de Toros de Las Ventaas for the "corrida".
I have been to a lot of sporting events but this was something else. The stadium is divided in 10 "tendidos" (sections) which are categorized by either being in the sun or the shade. The seats that are exposed to the sun are cheaper and are also farther away from the main action. However, there really aren't any bad seats in the stadium. Upon entering into the arena, I went to my seat ( by seat I mean the spot on the slab of concrete), and took in the atmosphere… This was a sold out event, 20,000 adoring and excited fans, almost exclusively Spaniards waiting in anticipation for the bullfight.
The bullfight starts out with a pageant of sorts, with all the various “role players” in the event enter the center of the arena to the sound of drums and applause. Now it is time for the bullfight itself, which comes in numerous stages: first, the bull gets weakened by men with knives and others on horseback, then it is further weakened by a few matadors in training, then finally the master matador, the crowd favorite, comes out to deal the final fatal blow to rousing applause… I thought it was an interesting experience, something that is engrained in the Spanish culture, and is a part of their heritage.
However, because the bull literally has no chance, it is very much more torture than sport in my opinion.
Start the night off with some sangria on Plaza Mayor, well ALOT of sangria :)
The bullfight just ended but the night is just getting started… I met some cool people at my hostel and we all went bar hopping in Madrid… What better place to start than Plaza Mayor J Here, there are dozens of bars and local eateries to choose from in and around the Plaza and after sitting down and enjoying some sangria, we decided to start the night off at La Torro Del Oro, a local bar that is also a shrine to Spanish bullfighting.
The walls had photos of some of the scars that their hero matadors got, also putting up some of the famous bulls on the walls as well… There was also a shrine to some of the matadors that lost their lives… This was a great place to take in some of the culture and see the passion that the locals have for bullfighting… The locals were glued to the tv which was broadcasting the bullfighting event that I just attended, as if it was a World Cup match or Superbowl… The bar has some interesting food options, we decided to try the octopus, excellent choice!!!
After Torre Del Oro Andalu, we decided to hit the narrow streets of old Madrid and visit a few Mesones… Mesones are hole in the wall bars that are frequented by locals mostly, they are literally a collection of bars that are etched into one continuous wall, that was probably built in the 16th century.
These establishments are known for karaoke, serving local tapas (local finger foods like cured ham) and having a lot of personality. These places are great for experiencing local flavor, and really cheap sangria J One of the mesones was really interesting, its owner was a huge fan of American cartoons, so he had the walls of his establishment painted depicting cartoon characters such as Yogi and the Flintstones!!! Very interesting…
Bar Hopping, going from one mesones (a hole in the wall bar) to another. In this one, the owner was a huge fan of American Cartoons, so all the walls were full of Cartoon characters like Yogi or the Flintstones...
After enjoying some local delicatessens and local culture, we went in search of the next bar…. On our journey, we stopped and chatted up a few of Madrid Policia, as to find out a hot spot to go to at what had to be 2 am by now… One of my friends is a police sheriff so she started an awesome conversation with the Madrid Policia about their choice of guns, armor and accessories… Good times J
We ended up going to a few more bars that night, and I had a blast… The locals work until 8 pm maybe 10 pm sometimes, so they really don't start going out until 11-midnight.
This means that alot of the main clubs in Madrid like Kapital stay open until early morning. One should do what the locals do, so when in Madrid you have to stay up and see the sunrise while having some sangria :) I love it, everyone stay up all night, ahhh just like New York, I feel at home already… I met wonderful people, experienced a lot of Spanish culture, took in the Madrid nightlife, and had a great time J
Bar hopping from one mesones to another, great times :)