Carnival Del Toros and Salamanca Spain!

Carnival Del Toros

My friends and I went to Ciudad Rodrigo for their annual Carnival Del Toros in mid February. Throughout this carnival, their main attraction is the man-made bullfighting arena in the middle of the town’s square. The carnival commences with the traditional running of the bulls. The town’s clock tower signals when the bulls were set free to run through the streets. Throughout this run, people egged on the bulls by running in front of them, or simply stopping right in the bulls tracks. Risky…yes but, this is not like the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Instead they let only a few bulls out and there was plenty of room for the thrill seekers to run away to safety. Only about 5 bulls ran, each of them running through the town into the square and back, accompanied by the fighters who had long sticks that poked them in the right direction. Then later on in the evening, there would be a bull-fight in the arena that lasted all night.

Watching a professional bull flight can be hard to watch to say the least. Many Matadors antagonize the bull until they slay it with a sword.  I was warned that even though I want to get the whole Spanish experience, bullfighting is one I could miss out on. One person compared the legalization of bullfighting to the legalization of guns in the US “it’s the way it’s always been and something many people can’t imagine giving up.” My friends and I did not attend the fight but the party outside the arena lasts all night! I suggest getting there around dinnertime and be prepared to stay until the sun comes up. There is a huge beer tent that only opens after 12 and all kinds of food all night. The only problem is that it is about an hour away from Salamanca (where we stayed.) So we took a bus to the carnival and then a taxi back late at night, the taxi was about 80 euros but we split it 5 ways. We were definitely the only Americans at the carnival, which made it feel like we got an authentic Spanish experience.


Such a nice get away from Madrid! Salamanca was smaller and had a lot more charm with its old cobble stone roads and old cathedrals. The architecture in Salamanca was unbelievable, we walked around entire city in awe. Salamanca had more of a college town vibe, it has a lot of young people most studying abroad there.

Erasmus hostel I recommend staying here, it was walking distance to everything, super clean and had breakfast included.

Some sites include:

Plaza mayor de Salamanca Just like the plaza mayor of Madrid, it is one big square filled with restaurants and shops! We got ice cream and sat in the sun in the plaza.

Casa de las Conchas- This is a shell-covered Palace! We did not go in but it was beautiful from the outside.

The new cathedral of Salamanca – this you literally can’t miss it’s a huge cathedral with bells at every hour and the roman bridge of Salamanca.

The Flamenco

I have never been more proud to be living in Spain until this moment. On March 8th (International woman’s day) I had the opportunity to see the unbelievable Sara Baras dance Flamenco at the Nuevo Apolo Theater. We stood outside the polished theater, show lights sparkling, wondering what awaited us inside. We sat in red velvet seats surrounded by native Spanish flamenco lovers; our American ignorance was all over us. The lights dimmed and a single spot light appeared on the stage showing the one and only Sara Baras in a beautiful dress, she started off very slowly, taping her feet and swinging her dress. But as the energy and anticipation grew, she got faster and faster and as the music grew stronger our faces brightened. The crowd was silent, except for the occasional Olay, but rightfully so, the performance was breathtaking.

She danced many different types of Flamenco, some with big dresses that she spun around, made shorter or longer and used as if it was part of her. She danced tango with a man, Jose Serrano, that depicted love and hate all at the same time. But what was most interesting to me was the dynamic between the dancers and musicians. They cheered each other on during their individual performances and when Baras did an interpretation (making her dance up on the spot) the musicians were right on cue with what she was going to do next, making sure the music and feet matched. The dancers used the different types of Flamenco in a special way that allows for them to show their own identity and interpretation but also keeping the traditions from generations past. That is one of the most important things about the dance, remembrance. During each dance style change, a recording was played from different famous flamenco dancers expressing their feelings about flamenco and why it is so special.The dance originated from gypsies living in Spain (also has roots from the middle east) to express the oppression they felt at the time. Throughout the dance, you can see the mix between the feelings of romance and desperation to freedom and suffering. The emotions embedded in the dance are what make it so powerful.

Dare I call myself Spanish for living in Spain for 3 months… no. But the feeling I had walking out that theater was nothing less than Spanish patriotism… Olay!


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