A Spanish Road Drive from Madrid to Zaragoza
Road Trips in Spain was fun. One of the main reasons was spotting the huge black bulls over the horizon. We were on the last phase of our journey. After spending 2 nights in Madrid we set off for Barcelona.
Keeping up with my craze to visit UNESCO Heritage sites I managed to fit in Zaragoza into the itinerary. Zaragoza and Teruel together form one UNESCO World Heritage site of Spain. A diversion to Teruel would have meant further delay in reaching Barcelona. And all we had was max. 2 hours during which we had to include lunch time too. We focused just on the cathedral of Zaragoza… more about it in another post. This post is on road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza.
Road drive from Madrid to Zaragoza
Our stay at Madrid Holiday Inn was restful. And next early morning with our tummies full we set off for Zaragoaza (a rhyming kind of name I thought). Just as we were exiting Madrid towards Barcelona via Motor Highway A-2 this Air Europa plane grazed overhead, its wheels out, about to land at Madrid airport. It is best to leave such big cities early morning before the mad traffic catches up. The distance of 315kms was done in approx 4 hours with a small break during the journey.
The direct route A-2 is devoid of beautiful sights of Castilian villages; nevertheless here and there we did spot some castles and cathedrals. We traveled in May when the summer was just setting in. The ‘vast plains’ was mostly drab, though there were some soothing green patches here and there.
Best part of the trip as I mentioned before was when the big black bull of highway would appear? These Osborne bulls have an interesting story:
The Osborne sherry company (founded by Thomas Osborne Mann in 1772) erected large images of bulls starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. The images were black advertising boards located near major roads throughout Spain. The original image was smaller and slightly different in design. The current larger image was created to comply with a law that prohibited advertising within 150 metres of a road.
In 1994 the EU passed a law that prohibited all roadside advertising of alcoholic beverages, and the bulls were therefore to be removed. By this time the signs were nationally renowned, so although some campaigners wished them completely removed to fully comply with the intent of the law, public response resulted in the signs being retained, but completely blacked out to remove all reference to the original advertisers.
The Court eventually allowed these signs to remain on the grounds that they have become a part of the landscape and have “aesthetic or cultural significance”, thus turning the bulls into public domain images.
Throughout the entire stretch of 315kms to Zaragova from Madrid we could spot 6 bulls. Just one out of them had its back to us. Btw there are 91 such bulls scattered all over Spain. How many have you seen?