Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas Madrid
Hemingway introduced the world to Spanish bullfighting in The Sun Also Rises, and both the sport and its handsome practitioners still have a glamorous aura. But the gore and guts turn off many visitors, not to mention animal rights activists. If you’re still dying to witness Spain’s other “beautiful game” (besides futbol), ask the concierge at your hotel to secure tickets. You’ll want the right seats (sombra not sol, unless you want to roast) and the right occasion—a great fighter in town. When I attended, we asked to be in the section where the real aficionados traditionally congregate. The older men, many of whom never miss a match, taught this neophyte all she’ll ever need to know about technique and form. It was a fascinating (if not a little gruesome) experience. Note: be prepared for plenty of swearing and cigar smoke. This isn’t a child-friendly atmosphere.
Alternatively, drop by the Hotel Wellington bar during one of the férias, when the matadors, trainers and bull breeders are said to go there for drinks. You might also want to read Death in the Afternoon beforehand for a better understanding of the sport.
Written by Henley Vazquez