Sunday, November 19, 2017
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Day 1: The Choir Arrives Safely in Spain!

Greetings from Madrid, Spain:

9AM Monday morning we left via Reagan National, and Boston Logan airports for Madrid, Spain.

For the first time in some time, everyone in our party was accounted for and departed relatively on time, with no airline delays, or anyone losing their luggage.  It appears that every time we fly to a new destination, we fly on a new airline – this time on Iberia airlines, a Spanish airline.  Service was fine and we enthusiastically arrived to the Madrid airport.  After retrieving all of our bags, our coach bus was outside waiting for us.  Our adventure was about to begin!

After a long day of travel, we arrived in Madrid around 6:25 Tuesday morning.  Given that we were not able to check into our hotel until 3PM, we had several hours to begin our exploration of Spain’s capital city.  Our local guide, Kike Mantecon, gave us a great overview of the city.  He dropped the group off at a local park for us to explore the beauty of Madrid. He then dropped us off at another point to eat lunch and explore by foot for several hours.

At 3PM we checked in to the local hotel, the Florida Norte Hotel.  Most immediately saw that this was a typical standard European hotel – with bidet and all!  Many were surprised to find that Europeans typically do not place washcloths in hotels. The beds were not stellar but we were hoping that we would be too tired to care.  The major event of this first day was to attend a Spanish bullfight! At 5:30 PM we left for the arena.

Many were ambivalent about attending this iconic Spanish event.  Of course the major issue is that of animal cruelty! Given that most knew so very little about the Spanish bullfight, we believed it would be instructive to actually see and understand Spanish culture first-hand, and have an informed position about this spectacle event. All but three attended the bullfight.  What did we learn?

We learned that thousands of Spaniards attend even on a weeknight!  We believed that bullfights were almost common events, but that was not true.  Bullfights only occur a few months out of the year and then only a few times a month.  We were fortunate in a way to see a bullfight while we were in Madrid!

At best, the bullfight was a showing of courage, given that the bull could fatally gore the matador.  The Spanish crowd cheered as though it were a “fair” sporting event. At worst, given that this exercise was done purely for sport, our hearts were saddened, as the assistants would spear the bull to slow him down, to somewhat even the odds & ultimately tip the scales in favor of the human being. Four out of the five bulls that we witnessed in this spectacle were killed in front of the crowd!  It made us sad seeing an animal killed like this, purely for sport, in front of our very eyes!

Afterwards, we learned that the bull is fed like a “king” for several months up to this fight.  After he is killed, his remains are sent to top restaurants because the bull is only range-fed their entire life – which is more desirable for meat-eaters. Having experienced Spanish culture first-hand, I do not believe that any of us will ever attend a bullfight again!  See YouTube link below to the rated “G” portions of the bullfight – intriguing to say the least.

https://youtu.be/QzFRCEoJ6RQ

What a full first day in Madrid Spain.

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