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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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…
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!
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.
5 European Cities to Visit in the Dead of Winter
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Even the Most Expensive Cities Have Cheaper Alternatives: Paris
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 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.
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.
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.
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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...
New on Four Jandals
- 4 Essentials for Travelling in Comfort October 15, 2019
- Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Casino October 11, 2019
- Planning A Family Trip To The Canadian Niagara Falls October 10, 2019
What Are You Looking For?
- Adventure Travel (217)
- Africa (25)
- Asia (28)
- Auto (1)
- Business (2)
- Canada (2)
- City Guides (24)
- Education (2)
- Europe (176)
- Events (2)
- Fashion (1)
- Fitness (1)
- Food (15)
- Health (1)
- Home (1)
- Inspiration (11)
- North America (49)
- Oceania (31)
- Other (219)
- Personal Musings (8)
- Reviews (15)
- Technology (4)
- Travel Blogging Tips (9)
- Travel Tips (195)
- Work (1)
- Europe2 months ago
Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show
- Travel Tips3 months ago
Things to do in Prague (that have nothing to do with beer)
- Technology3 months ago
Is framework actually the new programming language?
- Travel Tips3 months ago
Top Things To Do In Miami This Summer
- Travel Tips3 months ago
Things to Do While Visiting a New City
- Travel Tips3 months ago
3 Reasons Why Abu Dhabi Needs to Be On Your Travel Bucket List
- Health2 months ago
Sleep Deprivation: The Biggest Reason For Mental Stress
- Travel Tips2 months ago
Dogger-Lust: Finding Places to Stay for You and Your Dog