Bullfight in Nimes

Trip Start Apr 11, 2012
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Trip End Oct 10, 2012


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Where I stayed
Hostel

Flag of France  , Languedoc-Roussillon,
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I arrived at Nimes Friday night after biking directly from the Montpellier train station. It was 5 pm when I left Montpellier and I had 40 miles to Nimes, so I didn't get to see any of the town. It is quite amazing now, though, how much the landscape looks like California. If I subtract all the other elements, it kind of feels like I am just on a ride back home.



The hostel in Nimes was full when I arrived, but they have a yard where camping is allowed. I was lucky to not have to find a campground at 8:30 pm and even paid half-price for the same facilities by camping. This hostel is unique when compared to my other hostel experiences. Maybe it is just a more tourist-heavy region, but there are far fewer French staying here and far more English-speaking travelers than any of the other hostels. I met many English, some Australians and New Zealanders and a few Americans. It is funny how I have come to really appreciate the company of other English-speaking people. I am in France to see France, but I can’t speak French. I do feel like an outsider and traveling alone probably doesn’t help with this either. Hostels are really the only way to travel, as a result. Couchsurfing is good for a glimpse of local culture, but I feel the need to have an unfettered conversation every now and then. Staying at hostels reminds me of basic training in the Army, where everyone is outside their usual social circle, so meeting and talking to new people is much easier.

I ended up staying at the hostel in Nimes longer than I had planned for several reasons. I had spent 6 consecutive days on the bike before Nimes, and that just doesn’t work for me. I was sick of the bike, and when that happens, I know I am off balance. Four days is probably the maximum for me before riding stops being fun and starts being a chore, just a way to get to the next place. You have to find your balance to enjoy yourself, and I am still working on it.

There were a couple days of rain, so I spent the days indoors, resting and wasting my time on the computer (another essential item for me). I learned when talking to people that there was going to be a festival in town from Wednesday to Sunday. The feria, as it is called, is a festival with Spanish roots, and there are bull fights in the Roman arena downtown, street parties at night, and a bull run starting Friday. I didn’t want to stay until Friday, especially as it would get really busy at the hostel and in town near the weekend. The bull fight sounded like fun, considering as I wasn’t able to make it to Spain, and it is held in the Roman arena. You have to pay to enter and tour the arena normally anyway, so I figured the bull fight was a two-for-one deal.

Wednesday morning then, I rode the 20 miles out to Pont du Gard, which is the Roman aqueduct bridge that was part of the system that brought water to Nimes. This area does look a lot like California, and apparently some of the vegetation is quite similar, as my allergies decided to go and tell me. I hiked around the bridge trying to get all the angles, and though I was prepared for some swimming, the water was too cold. Quite impressive, and until they make 3D cameras, pictures can’t match the sight.

Well, for the bullfight then. The game/match/event or whatever started at 6 pm, and though I had the cheapest seats in the house, I think they were the best. I was sitting on the original stone of the arena, while the people closer were on assembled grandstands. I went up as high as I could, and from there I could even see the old Roman Tower Magne overlooking the town. Not like the bullfights would have been any more interesting up close anyway. I had never seen a bullfight before, and I thought it was the bull versus the matador the whole way through. Hardly. First, they let the bull run around, chasing several guys who hide behind the wall when the bull gets close. Next, they bring in two guys on armored horses. These guys have spears, so when the bull butts against the horse, the guys spear the bull in the back. Then, three guys come out and jab six short sticks into the bulls back. After this guys with pink blankets get the bull to chase after each of them. Then, tired and hurt, the matador comes out. He makes a show with the bull, using his voice and red sheet to goad the bull. When the bull is thoroughly worn out, the matador will then stab it with his sword when the bull charges him one last time.

Judging it solely as a "sporting event" I would rate this as more boring than soccer. They did this same exact routine to six different bulls, and while there were 3 different matadors, the only variety really came from the energy and personality of each bull. I was rooting for the bulls the whole time, for nothing about this is remotely like a fair fight. I suppose it is Spanish culture, though. The whole bravado thing and all. “Look at me, I am daring a bull” kind of loses its impact when you see the way the “fight” is set up. I am not so much saying this in opposition to animal cruelty, but as its lack of quality as a spectacle. If they wanted to make it interesting, it should be two bulls fighting each other or two roosters…
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Comments

LeAnn on

Tourist attractions exist everywhere. Too bad the bulls are involved.

jonmatters
jonmatters on

Yes, you do have to feel a bit sorry for them, but they probably had better lives than most dairy cows and cattle for beef...at least up to the point where they are stabbed to death

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