Another gorgeous city
I hate to say it, but I have found yet another city more beautiful than Córdoba. Maybe it is because its new, and exciting, and I was with Kiki. Or maybe becuase anywhere other than what you are used to is more exciting (at least for a little while), but Salamanca is absolutely wonderful. It has all the charm of an east coast university town, minus the snow. Its gorgeous river is lined with trees changing colors, and punctuated by roman bridges which become even more picturesque at night when they illuminate them. At night the city doesnt lose any of its daytime charm. The huge gothic cathedral is lit up and can be seen from almost anywhere in the town if, and is better than the postcards when you are looking up at it from the river bank.
The town itself is filled with churches, the first university in Europe, the Cathedral, plazas, statues, a Plaza Mayor more beautiful than its predecessor in Madrid, and countless ofher buildings that fit the architectural style the monuments giving the city a coherent but not uniform feel. There is even a Zara (womens clothing store) in the shopping district built into an old church. Its amazing!
So as i walked around with my mouth gaping open at the beauty of the city, Kiki and I took in some of the tourist sights, wandered the town, frequented a local Irish pub for some good ole rugby watchin´and beer, hit up one of the packed bars for the Madrid-Barça game, ate delicious food (pancakes!!!!!!!), shopped, and enjoyed the scenery.
After 5 hours on a bus, 30 hectic minutes in between modes of transportation and 2 ½ more hours on a train, I was in Salamanca! Kiki met me at the train station and we headed toward the center of town where all the life is! Instead if heading straight home, we made a pit stop at O´Harahs, the Irish pub in town, this was just the first of our visits to what I will now refer to as the O.H. As if it just being an Irish pub wasn’t good enough, they had my favorite weissbier on tap; Paulaner, and I took advantage of it! A few hours later, after meeting up with friends and having a merry old time, we headed over to another Salamancan favorite, a bar called Jacko´s. The night just got better from there and I learned that B-52´s are not just a band, but a rather tasty drink. Very near 4 am, we finally made it back to Kiki´s house. After hanging our clothes on the balcony (as anything you wear inside in Spain takes on that sweet stench of cigarette smoke), we climbed into bed to catch some ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!
Friday morning we lounged a bit and ate breakfast while looking out the balcony window onto the gorgeous Río Tormes. The trees lining either side, the leaves changing colors, the reflection of the bridge in the smooth water…need I say more? We headed out to play tourist (one of my favorite games) and made our first stop at the Universidad de Salamanca. The first university in Spain, this building was opened in 1218 and still holds some of the original books, and classroom benches. We entered through the famous façade where you can spend hours trying to find the frog (carved into the top of a stone skull on one of the pillars of the decorated entrance) that will bring you good luck, called “La Ranita de Suerte” (the little frog of luck). When you enter, you find the carved stone stairwell and elaborate ceilings that adorn the building and are just one more thing of beauty. Even more impressive was stop number 2 on our tour. The Cathedral. Its gorgeous. As you walk through it, you are led through passages and up stairs as you make your way up to the upper levels where you can walk around the outside for a great view of the city and wander in and out of the various rooms, gazing at the alter, finding cracks still visible from the 10.0 Lisboa earthquake of 1755. Walking through it you can almost imagine the priests from the 18th century making their way through the passageways (the choir music playing softly on surround sound definitely doesn’t take away from the mood either). After snapping back to reality we headed down the steep stairs and out onto the streets.
Wandering through the streets lines with the tourist stores we made our way to the plaza to grab some lunch before the afternoon of shopping . The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is always crowded with students, couples, families, kids, dogs, and cute little old couples in matching outfits sitting together. After chilling ourselves to the bone we headed back toward home. On the way we ran into Clancey (kiki´s roommate) and her and I headed out for a run near the river. As it started to get dark, the lights in the city came on and from the riverbank where we were running we could see the gorgeously lit Cathedral and Roman bridge. It was definitely an image vying for a spot as the calendar page for November. Seriously, the city is gorgeous, the epitome of fall and absolutely beautiful.
Saturday was another relaxing day. Slept late, headed out for PANCAKES!!!, which we had found the day before at a restaurant in the Plaza. Soooo yummy! But, like many other “American” foods here, it wasnt quite satisfying (as they were the sixe of a a san dollar and you only get 2) and headed to the cutest little bakery just off the plaza for some Hornazo, the typical empanada of Salamanca. Imagine a hot pocket, pizza flavored, with 3 kinds of meat (and by three kinds of meat i mean 3 different parts of the ham). It was delicious! After that, we needed to walk off our meal(s) so headed back to the shopping strip. You think i would be sick of shopping but when your legs are 8 inches too short for pants (literally, im not kidding) or your shoulders are wider than 6 inches, finding clothes that fit is pure luck, which means that after not succeeding many a times to find cute stuff, we try try try try and try again.
To break up the shopping monotany (yes shopping gets old after a while, EVEN for me!) we headed over to the local peluquería (hair dresser) for a little ‘do’. Nothing crazy or anything, dont worry, the mullet will have to wait for another time, but i now have a few tasteful streaks of Córdoba orange (removable as soon as I am tired of them because i didnt actually dye my hair, they’re extensions!). So, now, feeling a little rejuvenated by our semi-rebellious behavior (why its rebellious i dont know, its not like anyone was telling us we couldnt do that, or anything else here), we headed over to our favorite little irish pub for some RUGBY!!!!!!!!
New Zealand vs. England kept us entertained, and every other rugby fanatic in Salamanca for the next few hours. As if rugby wasnt enough sport for one day, it wasnt too long after the rugby game that we were headed over to the any bar that had space for one of the biggest sporting events in all of Spain. The Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer match. These teams here are like the Dodgers and Giants to baseball fanatics, if you like one, you CANNOT like the other. Except here everyone is a fanatic! Its nuts, every bar was packed and we ended up standing up for the entire game (that Real was absolutely outplayed in....booo hooo!). Kiki and I had a great time yelling at the screen and laughing at the great acting scheme that goes on in professional soccer games (no one is ever really hurt but you wouldnt be able to tell by the amazing martial arts rolls and the grabbing of whatever part of your body you are faking injury with this time).
Sunday morning we got our lazy butts outta bed for a run to the local rostro, or market. Much like the one in Córdoba, the tables are piled high with socks and other cheap items. We were only able to spend a little time here before heading back so i could catch my train.
It was so nice to see Kiki again, and I just am that much more excited to have her as a roommate, and now i have one more city on my list of must-sees in Spain too!