2016 Feria de Abril Plaza de Toros Poster; Official Program and Feria Daily Insert

2016 Feria de Abril Plaza de Toros Poster; Official Program and Feria Daily Insert


One of the highest accolades a bull fighter can receive for a valiant well fought fight is una oreja, an ear of the bull he killed. Sometimes, for a particularly well fought battle, dos orejas or two ears of the bull he killed are given. More rarely than that two ears and the tail is granted to the bull fighter. It is quite rare and a real honor to witness a bull fight in which the latter two awards are bestowed. However, the most rare and amazing event to witness at a bull fight is when both the bull and the matador have fought exceptionally bravely and the crowd petitions for an Indulto or pardon. When a bull is pardoned, he is lead from the bull ring and lives out the rest of his life on the farm of its owner as a stud.

Family Photo from our Seats

Family Photo from our Seats

I was excited to have the opportunity to see a bull fight with my family during the Feria de Abril in Seville, Spain. It is, to me, a must see. My son had been to his first bull fight the week before and was enthralled by it. But, April 13th in La Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla was special. We arrived early to take in the atmosphere. Everyone dresses very nicely for this event, and we did too. So, we took a lot of photographs before it had even begun. There are so many things to notice. Seat cushions are for sale or rent (which benefited the Spanish Red Cross), as the seating is on brick and cement. Many folks purchase snacks and drinks before they enter the Maestranza.

We also immediately noticed that there was no jumbotron. No announcers. Not much room to move once seated. But, there were two vendors walking through the seats yelling what they were selling, one had roasted almonds and one had drinks. There was a decent size band on the upper level across from the box where the dignitaries sit. We were seated in the Sombra section, which is the shade side. We were happily on the side where most of the action took place. The opposite side of the ring was in full sun and was the Sol or sunny section.

Bullfight Bullcropped

The music began and the action followed almost immediately.  The first bull was not a very good fighter and the matador did not appear as polished as I’ve seen. My husband and kids were glued to the action. The third bull was better and so was the matador. He received dos orejas. I kept saying, “This is a great honor. I’m so glad we got to see this. This is relatively rare to see.” And etc. The next bull came out and he was fierce from the start. He and his torero performed very well, each one matching the other with moves and counter-moves. Pretty soon, it became obvious (to those who have seen bull fights before) that this was a special bull. The crowd began to wave white handkerchiefs. Those of us without them used the programs we had about the night’s bull fight. The whole place was waving and the matador walked over to the judge and he granted the indulto or pardon. Immediately, eight large light brown and white bulls were ushered into the ring. They patiently corralled the bull and then all walked back out of the ring. The crowd was cheering wildly. THIS was the pinnacle of bull fighting. We witnessed history. It was so thrilling. The matador received dos orejas (from a previously killed that night bull) and he walked around the ring, proudly holding up the ears and waving at the exuberant crowd. The owner of the bull also joined him in taking the lap around the ring. It was so awesome.

Helping the Pardoned One Out of the Ring

Helping the Pardoned One Out of the Ring

There were two more bulls, but the evening belonged to the Matador Manuel Escribano and the indultado (the pardoned bull), “Cobradiezmos.”

Glossy Photo of the Matador Manuel Escribano

Glossy Photo of the Matador Manuel Escribano







There was so much history, culture, passion and art that we all came away exhilarated by the experience. John was taken by the music which served to connect the three stages of the bull fights. It was so old fashioned. I felt like we were non-speaking extras in a movie, sitting quietly expectant until we were cheering and yelling, “Olé” on cue. There was no evidence that it was 2016, except for the cell phones we held up to take pictures of the spectacle. We thought we might have feelings of, “Oh, my gosh! I feel sorry for the bull!” but did not.  It was too ceremonial to feel that way. The prevailing thought was, “This was so cool!” And, of course, it was nice to focus on knowing that one of the bulls would be spending his remaining years out to stud on a farm.

Bullfight ring



This Time It’s Not Me

Hearth and Home

Hearth and Home

I started out having an exceedingly difficult time accepting that my son is going to be leaving for Spain for his semester abroad program soon. But, I was not having a difficult time for reasons one may expect from an Empty Nest mom. No, I’m not worried about missing him too much. Of course, I will miss him a lot. I’m not afraid for any struggles he may have getting accustomed to living in a foreign country, as that is part of studying abroad. I’m not concerned about being able to keep in touch with him, as there are dozens of ways we can communicate these days. No, my problem is me, actually. I have been struggling to accept that I am not the one going. I had tried to figure how I could go and stay for the semester, too. Although, like the mouse who gets a cookie, I was definitely going to want more. Like staying for the whole school year. I know this because I’ve done it before. I spent my Junior year abroad in Pamplona, Spain. Am I excited about my son’s upcoming experience? Yes! But, it’s an excitement that is tinged with what I must admit is jealousy. 

Lladro From Spain

Lladro From Spain

Fast forward a month or so and I think I’m finally making the transition from being jealous and bummed it’s not me going to being very excited and happy for my son. The excitement is stemming from the waves of memories I’m having about my Junior year in Spain. I’m remembering details about the people, and lifestyle, and how different I found it from my own; realizations I made while abroad that haven’t occurred to me in years (decades, actually).

The memories began flooding back to me at a rate in which I honestly did not think my brain could produce, from the minute Alex came home from school for the summer. Dozens of them. Some with accompanying advice. And, I am so excited to share them I can barely contain myself. As we sit at the dinner table a memory will pop into my head, and I will say, “You may want to start listening to a Spanish language radio or television station to get your ear accustomed to hearing the language. It’s really hard to get the feel for how fast Spaniards speak in real time from the classroom.” And, “Don’t be alarmed by the crazy dreams you may have in the beginning. It’s just your brain trying to process your second language.” And, then there are the stories of what I experienced and how funny or charming or nerve wracking it was.  

Now, although it has taken several weeks for me to reign in my zeal about Alex’s trip, I think I’ve just about come to terms with it. It is his trip after all. And while I can’t wait to find out what aspects of Spain and Spanish life my son notices, likes, appreciates, and Etc. I must stand back and let it unfold as it did for me all those years ago.

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982


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A Few Things I Picked Up in Spain

Ensalada Mixta - typical Spanish salad

Ensalada Mixta – typical Spanish salad









This post is a #MyGlobalLife Link up post.

I read the latest post by Cate (of SmallPlanetStudio.com) and once again I was transported back to my experiences of living or traveling abroad. She posed a question that acted as a nice prompt for me. Her question:

What have you incorporated into your life after living abroad?

I love this prompt. I had not thought about it too much lately, but I used to be very mindful that I was doing things I picked up from having lived in Spain. I spent my Junior year of college in Pamplona, Spain.  It was a fabulous experience.  I did indeed pick up some Spanish habits, if you will, which I brought home.  I was doing those Spain things because they not only became ingrained in me while I was there, but to remember the experience and probably as a way to hold on to it and make it last.

I think that the most significant changes to my pre-living abroad self were in my writing.

  • I can’t write sevens any more without putting a cross through them the Spanish way.
  • I abbreviate words using Spanish abbreviations.
  • I write notes (personal and when I went back to school, and later work) in Spanish and English

However, one of the best habits I picked up was a the result of a big revelation: I had never felt so good physically and emotionally as I did when I was living in Spain. Why was this? I realized this improvement must be because of a dietary change I had made. Figuring out this riddle was the key to carrying on my feelings of physical and emotional well being when I returned home. While in Spain, I got into a habit a of eating an “ensalada mixta” every Friday night at a great pizzeria in Pamplona (that appears to no longer be there, according to a quick Google search). This salad consisted of lots of lettuce, tuna fish and hardboiled egg with an oil and vinegar dressing. It was so delicious! The restaurant (and maybe all Spanish restaurants) would put a ton of salt and olives on the salad if you didn’t request not to have it, which I did faithfully. I don’t care for olives or lots of salt in my salad. I discovered that the tuna fish I had on my salad (and probably the fact that I was eating a healthy salad,) and a healthier diet than I ate while in the U.S., lead to my feeling so good. I was able to increase the amounts of the Omega 3s in my diet by eating more tuna fish and salmon when I got home to the U.S. What a great thing to continue when I got home, no?

“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com”


Seeking A Global Life & A Look Back at My Junior Year Abroad


Today's post is a #MyGlobalLife Link up post.

This month I'm thinking that my life is seriously lacking the “global.” Even though I don't have a job that allows for overseas travel (yet…although I remain hopeful that I will be discovered as exactly who “they” are looking for to “live tweet” or blog about the World Cup Soccer games in Brazil)*, and I don't have a trip planned at this time…at all. I do enjoy reflecting back on my overseas adventures. The longest of which was my Junior year of college spent in Pamplona, Spain. Speaking of which, I do have one last possibility…and I am not above “coat-tailing” on my children's global experiences. Case in point, I accompanied my daughter and her college soccer team on their London & Barcelona training trip her Freshman year. It was awesome! My son is finishing up his Freshman year in college and is looking forward to doing an overseas Junior Year Abroad program somewhere. I am sure my husband and I are willing to go “somewhere,” too. To visit or to hang out for a while. I'm not picky.

In the meantime, here is a little trip down memory lane from my Junior Year Abroad…

My opportunity to spend my Junior Year Abroad happened 30 years ago, long before computers with Internet and E-mail. Long before social media allowing for face to face conversations, texting, tweeting, and Etc. And, long before telephones that you not only carry with you, but are capable of performing all of the above, plus take amazing photos and have “Apps” that contain maps, on the spot travel information, and more. Talk about a different world!

No, I left home with Traveler's Cheques and a small amount of the local currency (at the time it was the Spanish Peseta). I had a supply of special paper, thinner and “crispier” than normal paper and envelopes pre-printed with Par Avion (Air Mail) on them. And, a cute, colorful address book that contained everyone's home and school address that I planned to write to while I was gone. I also carried a Sprint Calling Card with many long streams of numbers to be dialed when making the international call home to my parents. It was highly unlikely that I would call any of my friends while they were at school–it was too expensive. And, what would I have said? I was in a foreign country. A country that none of my (American) friends had been to before, having experiences that were different from what I knew my friends were doing. So, I don't remember having that on my mind. I did write letters and mail them “via Air Mail” to my friends and family telling them about the people I was meeting and the classes I was taking. And I loved getting mail from home. It was a strange feeling to be living so far away from everyone. I remember someone telling me, “Picture a map. Now picture where you are on it and where home is.” It was a powerful visual for me back then. There was a degree of disconnectedness that later “Juniors” (especially those traveling these days) would not have to experience. In fact, there were far fewer American students studying abroad back in those days, probably because it was such a disconnecting and different experience. And, the world was not as inter-connected as it is today.

*A girl can dream, right?


“Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com” – See more at: http://www.smallplanetstudio.com/2014/02/28/february-mygloallife-link-up/#sthash.LHzXs3QW.dpuf


On Travel: Real and Vicarious

Stonehenge March 2013 – It was very cold!


Well, I've done it. In Britney Spears, “Oops!…I did it again” fashion. I've started to get really excited to travel, but sadly have no trips planned for the near or distant future. It has happened before. It usually starts with me reminiscing about my previous trips, usually to Spain, but lately it's been the ones to England. I'll have a memory float into my mind or I'll see pictures, and it all comes flooding back to me. The desire to be “there.” Lately, the culprit that began igniting my little travel bug fire has been my twitter feed and my relatively new presence in the blogging world that has done it. I follow a lot of folks who travel and tweet (and blog) about it. I have been reading more and more blogs. I find myself getting lost in the wonderful and exotic-sounding adventures of “The Real People of The Blogosphere.” And, all the reading I'm doing about the amazing experiences these folks are having in these lovely places is making me want to do two things as soon as possible. The first thing I want to do is to start planning and/or taking some trips immediately. The second is to consider taking some photography classes or, at the very least, try a little harder with the photos on my own blog. Now, I realize I am coming dangerously close to comparing my blog to other blogs, which is a big no-no for me. But, I want to get out and see some of these beautiful places. I want to be able to document and share that beauty in my blog posts with photos, like many of the bloggers I am reading lately. So, do I continue to hang out in the Blogosphere? There is a lot of temptation there. And, I am very easily tempted when it comes to world travel. Do I dare go cold turkey and stay off the great blogs I've been enjoying? Can I find some wonderful things to focus on around here? Well, with the winter weather being so dreary, and the fact that there isn't much going on around here at the moment, I think I need these little escapes in my day. Visiting Italy, Ireland, and Taiwan, all in a single sitting, is not a bad deal. Not a bad deal at all.

The London Eye, March 2013 – It was cold when we were here, too!


The Best Way to Enhance Junior Year Abroad or Overseas Experience

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

I had been given a lot of advice about how to have a great year abroad experience back in the day.  I was told to, “Do what the Spanish do. If they are sitting in cafes, sit in a café with them.”  That was good advice. It definitely showed me a lot about the people. But, another of the ways I tried to enhance and enrich my junior year abroad in Spain was to do activities I had been doing at home while overseas. This helped me to not get too homesick and had the added benefit of allowing me to be comfortable and confident doing something when everything around me, including the language, was new! Two of my favorite activities at the time were aerobics (including water aerobics) and swimming. I had arrived in Pamplona, Spain for the start of my study abroad program in August with several other Americans. The weather was hot, dry, and sunny. We were wandering around the city looking for someplace to sit outside and and soak up the warm rays of the Sun. Well, at that time, you could not actively sunbathe in any of the parks or plazas or a policeman would come and tell you to stop. So, at some point, we found an outdoor pool. I can’t remember many details, just that there were showers as you exited the ladies locker room that were running, and you couldn’t avoid them. So you got showered off no matter what. And, all of your belongings got wet. I also remember beautiful mountains in the distance. It was a nice pool, and I remember loving it there. But I’m really foggy on the details. Today I think, it was so “me” of me to find a pool. Here is a link to a post of mine about another trip to Spain and the pool I found there. https://angiekozblogs.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/a-barcelona-excursion-of-a-fitness-kind/  

In addition to finding the pool, the other way I tried to keep up a familiar routine and enhance my experience, was to sign up for an aerobics dance class. I don’t know how I found out about it. But, I did and I signed up. The teacher’s name was Conchi. I can still picture her. The class was called Danza Aerobic and covered more dance styles than a U.S. aerobics class would have.  Also, it wasn’t as intense as the American classes I was used to, but I really enjoyed it. We did some Tango and other Spanish dances mixed with a dance-style aerobics. I had been taking group exercise and aerobics at home since middle school, so it was cool to take a similar class while abroad. I didn’t start taking Danza Aerobic until my Spring semester, but I kept it up for several months. It was a good mix of the familiar and the different, and I feel really enhanced my year abroad experience.

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com

My First Global Experience – On the Plane to Spain

I am stepping away from my usual blog topics today to participate in the Small Planet Studio questions for the November Blog Mini Challenge. #GlobalLife2014

The question today is: Tell us about your first global experience.

It was the Spring of 1982, my Senior year in high school. I was traveling to Spain with a group of kids from my school and our Spanish teacher, who also happened to be my Italian teacher. Our itinerary had us flying into Madrid on Iberia Airlines. I could say that my first global experience was actually on the airplane on our way to Spain. I had flown many times growing up. In fact, when I was little I wanted to be a Flight Attendant. I loved to fly. But, as I learned on our flight to Spain, flying on a U.S. carrier was very different from flying on the Spanish one. Our flight took off from New York City. There were a lot of Spaniards (or at least Spanish speakers) on the plane. The flight attendants spoke in both Spanish and English to give the usual preflight instructions. We were quite impressed. I know we were all thinking several thoughts simultaneously: 1) Oh my gosh, the stewardess spoke so fast! 2) I did not understand the Spanish (Castilian Spanish) part very well. 3) We are going to be in trouble. A short time later, the captain turned off the fasten seat belt and no smoking signs. All of a sudden it was party time. People were walking around the aircraft, or standing in the aisles visiting with friends or random people. They were smoking cigarettes and having cocktails. I was so shocked. I'd never seen anything like that on a U.S. flight. It seemed a far cry from the American way of behaving on a plane. After arriving in Madrid, we did some sightseeing and then traveled south. We visited many historic sites. I was in awe of being on streets and in buildings that were older than anything I had ever seen in the U.S. And the people acted differently than I was used to seeing in the States. I loved how many older women and mothers and daughters would walk through the streets arm in arm…completely unhurried. I loved how groups of kids would sing, and dance and play music in the plazas. It was so different, in many respects, from my American life. We visited several cities. We went to Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, Valencia, and then onto Sevilla in time for Easter weekend. Being in Spain, specifically in Sevilla, during Holy Week was amazing. They had processions through the streets all night long. I can still remember the sounds from the streets below my hotel window, as I tried to fall asleep our last night in Spain. #MyGlobalLife