This time it’s Portugal! Olá Portugal.
You know that I have been to quite a few countries in the past, and I am still not sure how I feel about Portugal. Maybe I had unrealistic hopes, but to be honest – I was not impressed. I felt like I was back in Spain. Only Spain does everything much better – the beaches, the tapas, the wine, and even the churches. That’s my opinion, but that’s how I honestly felt. However, I have to say that Portugal does make pretty mean Pastéis de Belém. Pastéis are these tart-like egg pastries filled with sweet custard and are baked to perfection.
In fact, I could have one right now. They are so good!
Anyway, Portugal also does super-entertaining bullfights. At least, that’s what I heard. So, it was the first thing I went to watch when I reached the country. Just before the fight, I squeezed in enough time for a lovely dinner with one of my followers, who is incidentally from Spain. I did invite her to the bull fight, but she excused herself because she thought of bull fights as animal cruelty. And she was strongly against it. It took a live bull fight for me to understand what she was saying.
Naively I purchased front row tickets to the “match”. The thing is that I am borderline blind. I always get the front row tickets for any live event I attend, so that I actually get to see what I came to see. I was feeling a rollercoaster of emotions – excitement, nervousness and anxiety – as I waited for the fight with my bated breath. But, once the fight began, I was not only horrified but also mortified. The front row seats were not fun at all.
I was literally 100ft away from a raging bull.
For those who don’t know what bull fighting is, here is a breakdown. A man (a matador) and a beast of an animal are in the ring. This matador agitates the bull on purpose by poking and probing it. This bull then chases the man around for obvious reasons. This matador then goes around the ring trying to score three arrows on the back of the bull. Fortunately, in Portugal, they do not kill the bull in front of the audience like they do in Spain.
Yes, that’s a “game”!
I did not know how to make sense of anything that was happening right in front of me. But, it did not stop there. I had incredible co-spectators too. It is common knowledge that you do not wear red to a bull fight, because it can make the bull attack you. So, of course, one of the guys in front of me was wearing a red shirt.
At this point, the fight was getting to my nerves, so I got out, got myself a beer from the lobby, and watched the bull fight from inside for about twenty minutes. When I was able to muster up the gall to watch the rest of the fight live, I went inside. Within the next 5 minutes, they declared intermission. But, that was not uneventful either. During the break, someone ran to the field waving a flag. The security guards did not take it lightly. They tackled the guy, beat him up, and dragged him out of the stadium. The worst part? The men in front me began yelling “Taliban! Taliban!”.
I was done!
This isn’t entertainment; this is torture. So, I just left.
I spent the rest of my vacation drinking wine and soaking under the sun at the beaches of the beautiful cities of Sintra, Porto, and Cais Cais. These coastal towns were refreshing, as there’s always plenty of water to relax and enough good food.
This trip was a short one and I definitely have a lot left to explore. However, I do have a strong opinion about bull fights now. That is one thing off my bucket list for good. I do hope to find more foods like the Pastéis de Belém and more interesting activities to do.
Portugal did not turn out to be my dream destination, but maybe I could have planned it better. I hope there is a next time, when I can.