For me, traveling is all about immersing one’s self in the culture and taking part in time-honored traditions. Unfortunately, bull fighting is one of them in Spain. This photo was taken at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a famous bull fighting ring in east Madrid. I had been studying abroad for a few months when my roommates and I finally worked up the nerve to witness this rather horrible pastime.

The stadium fits about 25,000 spectators and is considered to be the home of bullfighting in Spain. The seats are situated in ten “tendidos” or rows, and the price of the seat depends on how close you are and whether it’s in the sun or shade. Of course on a hot, sunny day in Spain, the seats in the shade are where everyone wants to be. When we went in March, the bullfighting season had just begun so it was still rather cold.

With some goodies in hand, including a few boxes of vino tinto (yep, boxes) we endured as much of the fights as possible. It was an extremely disturbing experience, watching the bulls fight and bleed for what seemed like forever, eventually being dragged out, leaving only a trail of blood behind them.

It is a unique display of torture, courage, and skill that is not for the fainthearted. Would I ever go back to one? Probably not. Did we stay for the whole thing? Nope. We didn’t really stand a chance once my friend covered the back of a man’s white jacket in red wine. In fact, we jumped out of those seats as fast as our little legs could take us.