Thursday, October 28, 2010
Madrid… not just a load of bull..
When you think of visiting London, the Big Ben and Buckingham Palace come to mind. Paris, brings images of the Eiffel tower and cafes along the Seine. Rome comes with gladiators and the Coliseum. However, Madrid was one of those places where nothing really stands out. And that is quite a shame. There is lot to do in Madrid and it seems to me that Spain has not done a terribly good job of promoting itself in India. Apart from being the party/clubbing capital of Europe, it is also a major centre for art, culture and of course, sport.
Two days in a European city.. any of them is not really sufficient to hit all the major spots and spend quality time doing what you want. Palacio Real De Madrid is usually the first stop and quite rightly, it is pretty magnificent with all the art lying around the way chocolate wrappers are thrown outside a government public school. Make sure that you get the guided tour.. it costs just an extra Euro and you have a bored looking guy talking into a mike, whom you can hear through the headphones. The tour is totally worth it, because to a regular person, you’d just be saying “It’s good” like the character in Sideways.
The guide walks the group through huge rooms filled with Rococo, Baroque, Avante Garde and other Mickey Mouse designs that totally went over my head. But one thing stood out. These people had money and lots of it. And they spent it well. Most of the Palace is cordoned off, but the sections that are open are filled with fancy vases, paintings, gold leafed furniture and carpets so thick that small animals occasionally get lost in it.
The next stop was the Real Madrid stadium. Starting with the views of the stands to the history of the sports club was a relegation. Who would have known that Real Madrid has a lot more to offer than football. Over the years, they won championships in basketball, swimming and a whole load of other sports and of course the game that makes Real Madrid one of the most valuable sporting assets in the world.
No caption required!
At the stadium, you can walk through the entry ramp, sit at the players’ dugout, peep into the visiting teams’ locker rooms, former players membership cards and the store where you can get branded, overpriced goodies to show to the world that you were actually there.
Spain and bullfight go hand in hand. The image of a courageous matador throwing down his had, waving his cape and not even flinching as the bull passes by within inches of his body is all true. They are cocky, arrogant and the matadors and the toreros flaunt around teasing and provoking the bull right till the very end.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can choose to buy tickets for seats in the shade or in the sun, with the former costing a little more. The fights are usually on Sunday evenings and start at around 6 or so in the summer time, until mid-October. The formal function begins with the matador, the toreros, the picadors and other random people making a line, circling the ring and saluting the spectators.
The bull then enters the ring and runs into the middle, totally unaware of its fate, looks around, spots the matador who probes it for its weaknesses, which side it favours and particular strong spots. The picador follows on his armoured horse and pokes the bull with lances to weaken it. The bull usually is enraged and attacks the blinkered horse which has no idea as to what is happening at just stands there as it is being gored by the horse.
The matador teases the bull and tries to provoke it, while all the time sticking small swords into its spine to weaken it. At this point, he urges the bull to attack him and at what seems to be the very last moment takes a slight step or makes a small turn missing the bull by inches. The crowd at this point yells ‘ole!’ to goad him on and encourage him.
The bull by this time is tired with sword hanging out of its spine and blood spilling all over the sand. The matador decides that the bull has had enough and puts in swords of different lengths at different positions to progress towards the end. The bull, totally tired drops to its knees and just stares at the matador. He then sticks the sword through the heart followed by the coupe de grace , which makes the poor animal fall to its side, limbs flailing as its life comes to an end.
At this point most tourists are disgusted and try to leave the stadium, but they are stopped from doing so as they are not allowed to leave until the last act of hauling the carcass is completed. Its a wretched sport. People know what the end result is, and to many, its a sport that they will never see again. Exiting the main ring and going into the corridor, you can see live telecast of the bull fight that going on. Somehow, one feels less guilty when this is viewed on TV. It absolves your conscience of not actually being there and distances you from the carnage inside.
Trampled byY Trip at Thursday, October 28, 2010