So this weekend was yet again another five day holiday weekend (called a puente=bridge) because Monday was Día de Andalucía-I swear to god no one works in this country. So I decided to leave Andalucía and head up to Castilla y León in the north with my roommate, Lucía. I was dying to go back to Salamanca, where I studied abroad for a year in 2007/2008. If this weekend confirmed anything, it reminded me that Salamanca is my favorite city in Spain! If you ever come to Spain, you MUST go there! Now Lucía is from Ávila, a city between Salamanca and Madrid, in northwest Spain, so we decided we would head up to her house and then go to Salamanca while we were there since its so close. We left Córdoba on Thursday night, took the high-speed AVE train up to Madrid Atocha and transferred stations to Chamartín. Madrid is such an organized city that there is only one train station. Not. There are several so if you come in on the AVE be prepared to change stations using the metro or a local train (Cercanías). It is such a pain in the ass and really poorly planned, and you really have to pay attention to which station your train leaves from. You might have heard of Atocha because this is where the Madrid train bombings by terrorists in 2004 happened, killing almost 200 people. A grim reminder seven years later. On a lighter note, we switched stations before catching another train to Ávila to be greeted by her wonderful family (with a wonderful dinner of tortilla de patata waiting for us! WIN!)
The next day I headed into Salamanca early to walk around and visit all of my favorite haunts. As I walked into the Plaza Mayor for the first time, I had such waves of nostalgia that I almost wanted to cry! I used to walk through this beautiful square at least 4 times a day! Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Spain! You might recognize it because it was blown up in the movie Vantage Point. The weather was great; it was in the 60’s the whole time and everyone was out and about lounging in the sun. Which meant of course that I grabbed a jamón y queso bocadillo (ham and cheese baguette) and sat down on the Plaza and ate it just like old times! Now there are a fair amount of beggars and street performers around Spain but there is only one who I will give money to. There is this nice guy who plays the violin beautifully in Salamanca; he is always in the center of town and he always has the same mangy dog with him. Well he was was one of the first things I saw when I stepped out of the Plaza three years later; the only difference is that this time he now has a CD! Oh how times have changed!
Salamanca is a very old and historic city which is why I am probably so obsessed with it. The University, where I studied, is the oldest in Spain and the 4th oldest in Europe. What! Up! Nowadays it has a huge student population which makes it an incredibly fun, crazy and affordable place to study abroad. There is a joke that there it has the most bars per person of any city in Spain. This is not false, and I think I have been to most of them! The nightlife in Salamanca is absolutely insane! If you go there, you have to go out at least one night! I spent the afternoon wandering around Salamanca and visiting all my favorite tourist sights. It was funny to see what has changed and what hasn’t. My favorite café still has the same waiters! I’ve included some of my favorite pics from some of my favorite spots around town.
That night I headed out to a botellón with my friend María Ángeles in her apartment. All of a sudden we began to hear music coming from outside. We all went out on the balcony only to find the infamous Salamanca Tuna serenading us! La Tuna is a University men’s musical group that goes around dressed up in medieval garb and sings live. You can read more about them here. They serenaded us for a while, with people from all the surrounding apartments coming out to watch too! They then came up and sang and partied with us all night long! Apparently they are friends with my friend María! It was really fun and an interesting experience to say the least. We went out dancing until I crashed around 5:30! Welcome back to Salamanca! As my friend said, it’s dangerous to walk home at night, better wait til morning! Meaning, stay out late inside the bars and clubs until morning and THEN walk home!
The next morning was a little rough, but later on I met up for coffee with one of my teachers and talked for hours, which was awesome! We met under the clock in the Plaza. This is the famous place for meeting up with people in Salamanca, “bajo el reloj” or under the clock. I then met up with my long lost twin Jen who studied abroad in Salamanca too but a year after me. We got lunch and walked around for a while before I hopped on a train back to Ávila for the rest of the weekend! Salamanca is an incredible city, there are few places like it; if you ever find yourself in Spain, definitely make time to head up there because it is definitely worth it!
Locks clipped on a well in the Parque Celestina. Couples write their names on
them and throw the keys into the well to ensure true love