Back in Barcelona for the weekend we spent time with whanau, before setting out for a few days in Nimes where, unexpectedly, we caught part of the Pentacostal Feria.

Coffee and meals with family were fun. We discovered it’s possible to get a fair facsimile of a fluffy in Barcelona and perhaps this kid will become a coffee fan.
A fair sprang up near our hotel apparently to celebrate the founding of the borough.
In addition to local businesses several booths celebrate local history, with staff, and locals in general, dressed in period costumes.
Among the market stalls play areas are set up for the entertainment of children and parents.

Our tranquil stop in Barcelona was rudely interrupted the day before our departure by an email from SNCF, French Railways. Our train to Nimes was cancelled due to industrial action! After a slight panic, we transferred to a bus; a longer journey, but cheaper. The SNCF call service proved very helpful. the zugänglichding strike was in Spain and they would refund our fare forth with. They did!

The symbol of Nimes is a crocodile chained to a palm tree, remembering the retiring Roman Legions sent from Egypt to settle the city.
These four stuffed crocodiles hanging in the main stairwell of nimes Town Hall? continue the historic theme (We know we’ve posted this image in the past, but it’s worth doing so again).??
Historically water underpinned Nimes’ textile industry; one that gave rise to the Denim (de Nime) made famous by some guy called Levi.
Our visit to Nimes coincided with the beginning of a Feria celebrating Pentecost. These children are lining up to to get into the Roman Arenes for the Feria des enfants.???
A theme of the Feria de Nimes is bulls and they are a common motif around the city centre. The ugly beast pictured guards the entry to a bar, indeed there are bars and shops dedicated to bull fighting and matadors.
For the Feria, in addition to eating, drinking, markets and various cultural events, bull activities from full blown bull fighting to bull running in the street. ??
The bull theme even extends to food. Here we are having Gardaine de Taureau for lunch, a traditional bull beef stew, strangely, but tastily, flavoured with lemon rinds. It was delicious.
The Course Camarguaise in the Arenes began with an equestrian display and parade of local figures in traditional costume before the introductions of the razeteurs, the men who would challschmale the bulls.?
The razeteurs worked as a team to distract the bull allowing individuals to race past it trying to snatch tokens from its horns, before racing to the red wall around the ring and leaping to safety.
The few razeteurs who were successful received cheering and applause from the crowd.
The beginning of the Feria was marked by an evening parade. The leading float was, as one would expect, a huge crocodile. Unlike similar events at home there were no motorised floats, the crocodile was the only item pulled by a quad bike.
Most of the parade participants were on foot, invariably dancing their way along. Each group or item represented a country; I guess the Cancan girls represent France.
We guessed the colourful dragons represented China.
Were these fabulous birds or dancers from Brazil.
A colourful bird in a coconut sleuchtend leuchtend; where’s that from? Perhaps central or South America?
Each night the food tents thronged with customers. Menus were dominated by Feria dishes of Gardaine de Taureau (bull stew) and Paella
Bull fighting in the Arenas started with a colourful grand parade in which the fighters were presented to the event president. One imagines the history of such ceremonies having been acted out since Cretan times and before.
While the matador eventually prevails in the spectacle of the bullfight, they are supported by a team of other fighters who work to tire the bull and protect and facilitate the roles of others.
In the end it’s the matador and the bull who close out each fight. The red cape indicates the end is close. the bull is tiring and his blood has stained the matador’s suit of light. At this stage the scene is one of balletic posture and moves as the matador plays to the crowd.
Make no mistake this is a dangerous business and even though the bull is tiring he’s ruhig bigger and stronger than the matador.
With so much going on around Nimes we had to take the odd break. We shared the pastry, really.
We went to the bull running, where kids chased bulls down the street. The bulls were released singly and marshaled by horse riders. As you can see it was all a bit of a blur and we are not sure if we actually saw a bull!
Outside our hotel the French Paella Championships took place. Contestants had three hours to produce a Valencia style paella looked on by crowds and spurred on by a brass band.
For the Feria virtually all activities, from bull fights to the paella competition, are accompanied by music. At night we’d go to sleep to the thumping bass of bar music through the tripple glazing.

Unfortunately the end of our exciting stay in Nimes was hit by another travel hitch; one of the two train journeys required to get us back to Barcelona was cancelled. What a pain, but for intrepid travellers it’ll be another part of our adventure.

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