Yesterday we were in Salamanca all day. This town is 3 hours north of Madrid, and is known for it’s university- Universidad de Salamanca- I want to say it’s the oldest university in Spain. Anyways, we boarded the bus early yesterday morning, and then slept until reaching our destination. With one stop- Avila. Yeah, pretty sure when we all woke up and saw the walled city in the distance we all wanted to cry a little. If you don’t remember Avila...well, let’s just say it isn’t really worth remembering. The day we were there it was windy, freezing, and felt like mid January. Yeah, let’s just say no one even wanted to get off the bus, and as we did, it was STILL FREEZING and we came to the conclusion it is never sunny there. As we spent the next fifteem minutes in the cold, we came to the consensus that Avila is the bane of Spain’s existence. Don’t go there.
Things got much better when we arrived in Salamanca, unloaded our things in our hotel room, and then went out to explore the city. Aside from it’s university, Salamanaca is known for it’s Plaza Mayor, which looks almost exactly like the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, only the buildings are made of a different material and it’s a little smaller. We walked around the town getting our bearings, and then it was free time. Which was great… aside from the fact that we always get free time right during siesta time, which means no stores are open except for the tourist shops. I could soapbox about for about another paragraph, but I will refain J We passed the time looking at different buildings, eating some lunch, and taking pictures.
After free time it was three hour tour time. Our guide took us around to various buildings, like the Universidad de Salamanca, the Cathedral, and El Palacio de Las Conchas, which now is a public library, but before was a palace with iron shells all over it.. Yeah, I think I missed something in the tour there. We also went to a Monastery, which was pretty cool, We sang “A Child’s Prayer” in the chapel for our tour guide too, which was really cool after I got over the fact that we were singing Mormon songs in a Catholic Monastery, people were taking our pictures, and it was WAY out of my singing range, so hitting the notes was a little hard. J “I like it a lot!” was our guide’s exclamation at the end. Haha I love Spaniards and their minimal English.
After 7 it was real free time, and we were free until 7:45 the next morning! Brittany and I did a little shopping in the stores which were finally open, and then when we got hungry we got three euro medium Telepizzas. (Like the equivalent of Little Caesars I guess?) We took them to the Plaza, sat on a bench, people watched, and ravenously put away our food in 10 minutes max. The square was hoppin- and it seems everyone else had the same idea about Telepizza because the streets were littered with Spaniards doing the same thing. Guess I’ve become to think like one of them! haha
Our guide told us the Plaza is beautiful at night, so when we finished eating we found some of our friends, and plopped down on the piedra, waiting for it to get dark. I think those are my favorite times in Spain- the moment we just get to sit and observe the culture that is the Europeans. PS: I’ve been religiously taking mental notes about how to be a better European. As we waited for something to happen, I joked that once the clock struck 22:00- 10 PM, Americanss, the Plaza would become illuminated. Bam. I couldn’t have been more right. As the clock struck 10 lights started going on, and a couple minutes later the plaza was glowing! Everyone was oohing and aahing and it was gorgeous. Wish I coulda brought a sleeping bag.
Another observation I have made here is that life doesn’t begin until about 8 PM. Spain takes nightlife to a new level. Everyone is in the streets at nights eating, playing, and watching the various street performers. It’s is THE life. Go to Salamanca.
When we got cold and a little tuckered out, we went back to the hotel and had a group bonding night filled with fun, laughter, and The Bachelorette. I mean seriously, is there a better way to bring people together ? I think not. ABC.com, thank you for working overseas.. I foresee many similar hotel room nights.
This morning we woke up, packed up, and headed out for breakfast, after being heckled in the hotel lobby by a slew of drunk Spaniards. "Nightlife" here means "still drunk at 8 AM". Love it. Breakfast was…. Spanish. Crossaint with mermalada and hot chocolate. After eating we got back on the bus and drove to Valladolid, which is the city our director’s wife, Mabel, grew up in. Our first stop in this city was an art museum with tons of religious statues and cathedral artwork. I wanna say that this building was a school at some point, too… forgive me for my lack of details, all the history is beginning to run together! All the art was neat though- it was very different from what we’ve seen thus far, and the sculptures all looked extremely real, down to the curls in their hair and the veins in their necks.
Oh, and you see the holes in these scultures, well, when Saints used to die, they would get a little bit of their bones or other entrails and keep them in these holes. Nice.
After this museum, we went next door to a government building, sat in some governmenty chairs, and took governmenty pictures because you can never have enough pictures.
When our tour finished, it was only noon. We were hungry, and our lunch appointment wasn’t until 3. Mabel and Professor Williams took pity on us, and bought us all pastries from a shop along the street. I love it when we bombard poor, innocent shops and clean out all their goods. I think groups like us are the single reason that Spain’s economy hasn’t been completely pulverized. (Yet)
For free time, Hannah, Kat, and I did NOTHING. And it was glorious. We found some church steps, and sat there for two hours laying in the sun and playing Euro-watch. When I imagined Spain, this is what I pictured doing.... and it was as great as I imagined it to be. As we sat outside we started seeing all these classy people dressed to a T walking in the same direction, so we turned around, and saw that a wedding was about to go down in the church right behind us. So what did we do? Creeped on the guests and bride, played paparazzi, and deciding women in the US should start wearing cooler hats.
When 2:30 hit, we met back up with everyone, boarded the bus, and went to a Bodega for lunch. A bodega is a wine cellar, BTW, so basically we ate in a cave. It was in a hill and everything. The food… well, pictures tell a better story. Let’s play the matching game.
Ham, cheese, lots of bread, sausage, tortilla, wild mushrooms, lamb cutlets, and salad soaked in olive oil and vinegar. Yeah, let’s just say today’s two pastries and a surplus of bread at lunch are going to do me in. I was feeling pretty grossed out about my selection of food until Mabel took pity on me, and suddenly placed in front of me was VEGETABLES! Zuchinni, eggplant, red pepper, and onion all sautéed and delicious. Thank you, Spain. We finished off the meal with these little treasures: Magnum moments. The US should hop to it in this department.
After the restaurant we took time to smell the flowers and take some pics with a random castle.
And now our entire bus is paying for it. I didn’t think I had allergies… but me and lots of other people are now suffereing from some seriously itchy eyes and runny nose syndrome. Good think Brittany has community eye drops J Well, now it is back to Alcala, where I hope to burn off some of the bountiful carbs I consumed today in a little match of futbol. Rain, please stay far far away.
Más Tarde: fútbol was great, and tonight we ate onion pizza outisde on the patio. Great day, great night. Tomorrow stay tuned for my adventures in Paella take two.