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Bullfighting in Spain – Celebration or Condemnation

Find out why we made the conscious decision to watch the bullfighting in Spain at the San Fermin festival. We want your opinion too.

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Festival of San Fermin, Running with the Bulls Video, Pamplona

Warning: This post does contain graphic images 

I never thought that I would have to write those words at the top of any of our posts. But I felt it was necessary for this article.

Bullfighting in Spain

I am torn.

I can’t decide whether bullfighting in Spain should be celebrated or condemned. Is it so ingrained in Spanish culture that it should be left alone? Or is it cruelty hidden behind a thin veiled disguise called tradition?

While I don’t condone animal cruelty, I do recognise and celebrate traditions.

Experiencing San Fermin in Pamplona

The reason I love travelling is that you are exposed to so many different adventures.

We are like sponges, soaking up every cultural experience that we can get our jandals close to.

It’s why we chose to run with the bulls in Pamplona. And why we watched the bullfighting in Spain.

Running with the Bulls Pamplona

The San Fermin festival in Pamplona is the most well known bull-running and bullfighting festival in the world thanks to one writer. Ernest Hemingway.

For 8 days every year, hundreds of locals and tourists, including ourselves, pack 800m of narrow cobbled streets in Pamplona. Shoulder to shoulder they stand ready to run in front of a thundering pack of bulls.

It was the most terrifying and exhilarating travel adventure we have ever had.

One I will never do again.

We diced with death once, and that was enough for us.

While we were happy enough to run with the bulls, we were very conscious of our decision to watch the bullfight that evening. But considering that bullfighting has been a part of various cultures for thousands of years, and continues to be, there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

Because how can I speak out against what is right or wrong without experiencing it for myself? Who am I to speak out about how other people live their lives in cultures I barely understand?

These are questions I asked myself before we visited Spain.

Experiencing the Bullfighting in Spain

Bullfighting in Spain is one of the most celebrated spectacles in the country.

It is a pre-historic battle of man versus beast.

Bullfighting in Spain

Protestors against bullfighting in Spain call it a blood sport. The Matadors (or torero), and spectators, call it a ‘fine art’, similar to painting, dancing or music.

Each Matador is revered locally while the most famous are recognised nationally. And every man, woman and child that was present at the bullring seemed to be honouring each bull after it was killed.

Bullfighting in Spain Pamplona

While we knew that bulls were killed at the end of each day, we didn’t know anything more than that.

After speaking with a few locals we found out that only the 6 “new” bulls, out of the 12 that ran, are killed each evening in the arena.

These 6 bulls have been specially reared for this very reason. They live in relative luxury with very little human contact before they reach the bullring.

This supposedly makes them much healthier and stronger so that it is a fairer fight between the Matador and the bull. A fight that is virtually impossible for the bull to walk out of the ring a winner.

Bullfighting in Pamplona

Our experience and feelings

The Spanish are passionate with a capital “P”. When we discovered we had somehow secured seats in what seemed to be a locals only zone. We were stoked.

Sitting under the blistering sun we were surrounded by the Spanish singing, cheering and swigging back Sangria like it was going out of fashion.

They were here to celebrate.

They were celebrating what they believe is their right. But they were not celebrating death as they watched the bulls be slaughtered.

And we felt like we were part of the celebrations. We were not merely spectators watching from afar. They welcomed us into their singing circles even though we spoke limited Spanish. Filled our cups up with homemade sangria and fed us when we were hungry from their own picnic supplies.

As we watched the Matadors “dance” with the bulls around the ring I began to understand their passion. They were celebrating life. 

And I agreed with them.

Bullfighting in Spain

Preparing for the killing blow.

I don’t agree that the slow killing of these magnificent beasts is right. At the end of each fight I was willing the Matador’s to deliver the final killing sword strike to end their suffering.

Secretly I was hoping the bulls would get their own back. A goring of the Matador would have been something to see.

But most of all I realised that bullfighting in Spain is so much more than what some call a “blood sport”.

It is a time for friends and family to get together like they have been for the last few hundred years. A time to watch an event that is celebrated nationally.

Not to mention the fact that before their final fight, these bulls probably lead much better lives than the beef that is delivered onto your plate at home, at McDonald’s or in the frozen section of your local supermarket.

It is why I think that, if the majority of the population want to carry on watching bullfighting then they should be allowed to. I would probably even go along to another one.

Let us know in the comments below:

Have you ever witnessed something traditional overseas that you don’t agree with? And what are your thoughts on bullfighting?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 3, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I understand the tradition and the spirit of community it brings, but I wouldn’t go to a bullfight. It’s like you said in the end, the bull dies a slow painful death, and that’s not really something I wish to see. I’d rather go to a football match:)

  2. Angela

    September 3, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    I hardly define it a sport, and I hardly feel sorry when a matador is injured. It’s just a slow torture to an animal that never wished to be killed that way with people cheering for it. My experience was actually different, I know and have met many Spanish people, nobody likes/wants this bullfighting tradition to continue, they are actually ashamed of it. Probably the Spanish you saw in the arena are not an exhaustive sample of the whole country..

  3. Bret@ Green Global Travel

    September 3, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Nope, can’t bear to watch anything suffer. I have no problem with people killing animals for food, as long as it’s done sustainably and humanely. But if a human killed another human the way matadors kill bulls– slowly, torturously, taunting them as they bleed out–– we’d consider them a psychopath, not a hero. I respect cultural traditions in general, but I consider this one barbaric. If you’re going to kill an animal, either slit their throat or put a bullet to the head and get it over with.

  4. Marianne

    September 3, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    It´s a difficult decision. I haven´t ever been to a bullfight, so I guess I´m not qualified to comment, though I don´t really want to go to a bullfight so I can!

  5. Ali

    September 3, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    I went to the running of the bulls in 2000 when I was in Spain for study abroad, and it was interesting to see the bulls run into the arena at the end of it. That part isn’t so bad, no actual bullfighting, just the runners teasing the bulls and often getting flipped around a bunch. But I’m not sure I could handle a bullfight. Not only do I think it’s cruel, but I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to stuff like that. I don’t think I could handle the blood and the torture. At the time, we didn’t go because last minute tickets were outrageously expensive, but I didn’t think much about it beyond that. Now, I’m glad I didn’t and I don’t ever plan to go to one. I love Spain, but I just can’t watch that.

  6. Amanda

    September 4, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    I’m not sure I’d want to go to a bullfight. The whole “very slow death” part would bother me, I think.

    But I’m not one to judge another culture’s traditions just because they don’t mesh with mine.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      We felt the same Amanda. We were not happy with the “fight” but don’t want to say no to someone else because it is not part of our culture. I am sure they disagree with lots of stuff we do too!

  7. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    September 4, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Absolutely not. I went to a bullfight in Mexico many years ago on family vacation (don’t think the parents really knew what we were getting into).

    If it was a fair fight, I could tolerate it. But the fact that they stab the bull with a a spear with some sort of tranquilizer in it as he enters the ring gives the matador an unfair advantage.

    If you want to make killing animals a sport, make it fair. I know who I’m rooting for.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      Thanks for your thoughts Stephanie. We were cheering for the bull in each “fight” as well.

  8. Mike

    September 8, 2012 at 6:07 AM

    The tradition and the culture the bull fight brings is very understandable, but I wouldn’t go to a bullfight and see how these fighters kill the bull. I’d prefer to watch basketball.

  9. Al

    September 9, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    I love Spain but… sorry the ‘art’ of bullfighting is barbaric!

    The bulls have no chance, there is no fight with the matador being soundly protected by a posse whose sole purpose is to protect the ‘main character’.
    The bulls have no such protection and are slain cruelly, slowly and painfully.

    I attended an ‘amateur’ bullfight in Girona where there were a group of young Canadians (men and women).
    After the first bull was killed the Canadian women burst into tears stating that ‘They didn’t think they actually killed the bulls’!
    After many tears and the killing of the second bull the Canadians departed.
    Eight bulls were tortured that day – one having to endure the rookie attempts of a female matador making that animals death all the more prolonged and agonizing.

    The local ‘butcher’ was on hand to deal with the carcasses and was making a healthy profit selling the slaughtered meat to the locals.

    Every country has it’s traditions and they are entitled to them but.. bull ‘fighting’ is a play on words.

    There is no fight – only a slaughter that I for one cannot understand or tolerate.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      Thanks for dropping by Al and offering your thoughts on this.

  10. Drew

    September 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    I’m with the people here who are opposed to bullfighting. I went to a bullfight in Mexico City years ago, and found it to be very cruel. One of the bulls gored TWO of the bullfighters (I was silently cheering for the bull, truth be told), and it still wasn’t spared. It died a slow, painful, confused death.

    Bullfighting is no different than any other “sport” that involves animals dying…dog fighting, cock fighting, etc. The fact that it’s been a tradition for centuries doesn’t make it more acceptable.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      Thanks for your thoughts Drew. We were secretly cheering for the bulls as well.

  11. Paulina

    September 22, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I was taken to bullfights as a child.The music, the ladies in their mantillas throwing roses etc., were exciting. I write this because it is frightening how a person can not have empathy for the bull. I went to quite a few of these fights,seeing the terrified horses being lifted off the ground etc., I even went to the choosing of the bulls by the matadors agents. Then i saw the final knife in the back of the neck and heard the bull’s terrible calls of it’s final distress and agony. I went to my room and thought. I concluded that humans can feed the cruel part of a personality or make the decision to not feed it and to turn against it. I was about 10yrs old. I came out of my room and said that bullfighting was terribly cruel, horrible and that I would never go again. It is so shameful that a government supports this horror, calling it art and I believe that it will die out because young Spaniards agree that it is so shamefull, so horrific and not acceptable for a ‘so called’ civilised society. Along with factory farming, greyhou nd racing, trophy hunting, we who see the beauty in animals must protest and stand up for the protection of our fellow creatures.
    I won’t go there again…

  12. A Cook Not Mad (Nat)

    September 23, 2012 at 4:58 AM

    The only time we’ve seen a bullfight was on a tv channel in France that showed hours of bullfighting. Figured we’d watch and see what it was all about. We watched three bullfights, each time the stadium was almost empty and the bulls had no chance to fight back. Traditions are great but evolution is something to consider in this instance.

  13. emma@greenglobaltravel

    September 24, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    It’s tough one to call because it’s such an old tradition and it does bring people together – but do we really need to do something quite so savage just to bring people together? We’re intelligent enough to know that that’s just not on anymore. THis was an interesting read, though. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Tom @ ActiveBackpacker

    October 3, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Yep, it’s an interesting discussion that’s for sure. There is a big movement in Spain to get bull fighting banned, actually.

    I haven’t seen one myself, so cannot comment on a personal level. I’ve read a bit about it on the net though and I think I’m with the bulls on this one (and don’t think I would go – football is definitely a larger, more popular Spanish tradition!).

    • Cole Burmester

      October 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      We totally get that it is extremely cruel. But in our opinion it is quite hypocritical of people to say they should ban it when they eat caged battery hens or cows etc. But again totally different argument! Thanks for your comments Tom 🙂

  15. jules the traveller

    October 5, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Very interesting article and it sounds like you had a fab time! This is a debate that will continue for decades to come much like fox hunting and similar ‘sports’. I haven’t partaken in either so possibly don’t have a fully informed opinion, but my initial reaction is negative. Killing animals for the sake of entertainment doesn’t sit right with me even if it is tradition and does bring people together. There are many other forms of entertainment that bring people together which do not include such brutality which I think I would prefer to be part of.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 5, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      I was just reading about the Fox hunting debate the other day as well. Thanks for your insight Jules.

  16. Alison

    October 7, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I only recently discovered that they actually kill the bulls in such a horrible way at the end of the fights and this really shocked me. Personally, I could never go to anything like this knowing what takes place, despite it being a cultural tradition. The thought of any living thing being in prolonged pain for entertainment makes me feel ill and I know I’d find it too upsetting.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      It is horrible how they “bait” the bulls for about 20 minutes each. We were begging them to get it over with by the end.

  17. Yvonne

    October 27, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    I’ve never been to a bullfight and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I can see that it is more a celebration of life, as you describe it, than of death. But curious as I am I think I would go if I have the opportunity and then decide afterwards how to feel about it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      I think that you have to experience it before you can judge it. We hated the actual bull killing part, but the atmosphere and celebrations with the locals was amazing. Never done anything else like it!

  18. cheryl howard

    November 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    For sure, I could not bear to watch a bullfight and I’m definitely opposed to the killing afterwards.

    But then I think how I cheerily ate a hamburger just last week and I don’t think I have the right to cast judgement as the animal was killed for the purpose of me eating it.

    Regardless, a tough topic and you guys addressed it well. I think it’s nice how you were taken in by the locals to celebrate their traditions. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:29 AM

      Thanks Cheryl. We knew it was going to be controversial when we posted it and the comments show that! But still glad we stood by our decision to go along and see what the festival was all about.
      And definitely agree that it is hard to judge someone when I think of some of the things that end up on our plates every day and wonder how they go there!

  19. Alexandra

    November 6, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    I think I might be the only person in the comments that would actually go to a bullfight. I am intrigues by the theatrics and drama. I find these types of windows into a countries soul so intriguing and they are one of the things I love most about traveling. I imagine I would feel the same way I did when I saw a royal cremation ceremony in Bali. So colorful and fanciful yet morbid and grotesque the juxtaposition was one of the most memorable things I have witnessed.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:49 AM

      We feel the same way Alexandra! And thanks for letting us know. We hope you do get to see a bullfight if you ever visit San Fermin, as they are one of the craziest festivals in the world. Looks like their time is running out though as more and more people complain.

  20. Corinne

    February 22, 2013 at 5:03 AM

    I can completely sympathize with the split feelings. I’ve been to a bullfight and yes, cheered and hoped the bull would win. I hated the little darts (picodilos?) that they spear the bull with to weaken him. I think that is the worst of the worst, as you say a slow death. However, I do think culture and tradition are extremely important. In the U.S. and Canada, native peoples are still doing this with whales. Why? To not lose that culture’s traditions. It’s a tough question! Love your post!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 8:12 AM

      Thanks so much for your insightful comment Corinne! Like I mentioned in other comments too, when it comes to what we do to other animals, bull-fighting is probably not even the worst treatment of animals!

  21. Nicole @ Suitcase Stories

    April 5, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    I always try and respect and understand the cultures of other countries. But I can not get on board with this. Id never watch on, not in a million years. Its barbaric and inhumane. I can not believe they are still letting this go on!

    Ive always wanted to be that person who accepts all traditions and cultures and even want to get involved when Im in their country but Ill never be able to get on board with this one. But I wont hold it against Spain as a whole, because I know many of them hate this tradition and want it wiped out! Lets hope that happens soon.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 5, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      Thanks Nicole for your comment. It is very true that many in the northeast of Spain don’t agree with the bull fighting but down South, as I understand, it is still very much alive. When I was walking on the Camino last month I was actually surprised to learn that they have a small “running with the bulls” festival in basically every village. Some of them just run with the bulls and don’t kill them which is good!

  22. PamplonaMan

    April 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Hi Cole & Adela,

    Bullfight is an art form & very much part of the culture of Spain as it is always listed on national TV & Newspapers under “Culture & Society” in the media!

    I also agree with you that a bullfight is most definiely a celebration of life!

    Viva San Fermin!

    PamplonaMan

    • Cole Burmester

      May 3, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Thanks PamplonaMan. It is definitely a controversial topic…

  23. Adam

    October 21, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    I personally abhor it! Even though it’s “tradition”, sometimes you have to move on from the past…

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Europe

5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter

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As one of the most polarizing seasons, winter could be termed as both a blessing and a curse by those who like making the most out of nature.

After all, while it brings about the opportunity to build snowmen and to ski on magnificent ice slopes, it also brings a chill to the bone and a desire to never get away from the fireplace.

Don’t forget about the hot chocolate either.

That is why, when it comes to vacationing in winter, it gets quite difficult to choose from a location – especially when the destination is as diverse in climate as Europe. Do you select a place that’s sunny and warm? Or somewhere that lets you enjoy the ice and cold in the best ways possible?

To make that decision easier for you, here are 5 European cities that you could visit in the dead of winter, with the assurance that you would come out of the vacation phase with a smile on your face.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city that is synonymous with sunshine, warmth, and some of the world’s most breathtaking architecture.

The temperature rarely drops below 45 degrees even in the coldest months of the year. While the sunshine remains present amidst the rainy days. This means that you can enjoy the best effects of winter without having to endure the worst of them.

If you happen to be a fan of football, then these effects can be increased by several times. This beautiful city is home to one of the greatest football clubs of all time and with Barcelona FC in contention for a championship virtually every year, odds are you’ll be walking out with a smile on your face after watching a win. Not a bad way to take a break from the beach!

Athens, Greece

While you wouldn’t be able to go to Mount Olympus’ mythical version in this day and age, you can still experience Greece’s magnificence through the beautiful city of Athens.

Like Barcelona, Athens also sees rare drops in temperature while being consistent around 45 degrees throughout the heaviest months in winter. With the architecture that you can experience under the sun, this weather can actually be ideal for an exploratory walk.

And if you are a fan of Greek food, then checking out local restaurants for authentic dishes would only add to the overall experience of your trip.

Venice, Italy

Since Italy is full of some of the most breathtaking architecture in the world, it would be quite debatable to say that Venice is the crown jewel of the country in terms of structural beauty.

But it is.

From the way that the city has been designed to the manner that the buildings have been developed, Venice remains a breathtaking sight for anyone who visits it.

That remains true even in the months of winter, where the does drop to around 30 degrees, but still provides the tourists and inhabitants with a way to enjoy the magnificent sights under the sun.

Zugspitze, Germany

Germany is considered to be one of the coldest countries in Europe, but it is a good thing for those who enjoy a bit of snow during their travels.

And for those who do, there are perhaps not many places that are as marvelous as Zugspitze in terms of a memorable winter experience.

With snow covered mountains and a temperature that dances around -14 degrees in winter, you can enjoy an array of winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding to your heart’s desire. If you are one to enjoy snow and everything good there is about the season of winter, then Zugspitze is the place to go.

Marseilles, France

While Paris gets quite cold in winter without the weather enhancing any effects of life within the city, Marseille seems to be quite the opposite. The city is as lively in the winter as it is during its busiest days in summer, with plenty to do in adjacent areas.

You may visit the many architectural sites and tourist attractions in Marseilles itself, but you can add to that experience when you choose to visit the Christmas markets in Aix en Provence or Avignon.

With that, the many warm and steamy French soups and bouillon based dishes that you can enjoy in Marseilles only add to the trip. This means that by the time you are done with your visit to Marseilles, you are bound to be fed well, have some goods in your shopping bags, and some memorable pictures in your phone to boot.

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Europe

Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris

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According to the results of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Worldwide Cost of Living” survey, Singapore, Paris, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Oslo are the most expensive places to live – and visit – this year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit them, though – actually if your budget allows it, you should cross them off your bucket list as soon as you can. But this doesn’t mean you have to break all your piggy banks and sell your soul only to spend a weekend in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Unless you’re adamant that it’s “Paris or bust”, there are alternatives to this crowded and top-dollar destination you might want to consider – and start saving for your dream trip nonetheless.

Lyon

Lyon has a history of almost two millennia, and it shows: the remains of the Roman settlement Lugdunum, built at the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône, are showing to this day. Lyon might not be a capital city – it doesn’t have the size or the population – but its role in the everyday life of France was always important, both as a trade and a cultural hub.

The city has many gorgeous sights to see, like the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, the Tour Métallique (a tall TV tower that replicates the top of the Eiffel Tower), among others, covering every age from the birth of the city to its modern times. Plus, it has museums, parks, gardens, and a street art group that has been designated the cultural ambassador for the city. Not to mention its cuisine, the unique and popular Lyonnaise cuisine that has become a worldwide sensation.

Lille

A relatively small city in the north of France, Lille is another charming alternative to a crowded and overpriced Paris. It features many distinct architectural styles, most of them with a clear Flemish influence. Among its landmarks, you find its Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille), its Citadel, its palaces, and gardens. Lille is also the place with the biggest flea market in Europe – Braderie de Lille takes place on the first Sunday of September, with millions of attendees and over 10,000 sellers gathering in the streets of the city. It’s a charming, agreeable, and colorful city that will offer its visitors a beautiful experience.

Strasbourg

Last but not least, let us mention a city with a double significance – on one hand, it’s the official seat of the European Parliament, on the other, it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great alternative to an overcrowded Paris.

Strasbourg is a place where French and German architecture mingle in a unique way, with an Old Town filled with timber-framed houses surrounding typical French landmarks and churches. It also has many notable parks, some with historic significance, and almost too many museums for its small size. Plus, it’s a distinctively multicultural city where visitors will find it easy to fit in.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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