My aunt and a friend of hers were due to come visit me and since she’s an architect (my aunt) I thought a trip to Salamanca would please her tastes. I haven’t seen the city before but knowing that it has (one of) the oldest universities in the world, I wanted to go there. So I booked accommodation, the closest possible to Plaza Mayor. Then my aunt canceled her visit but the accommodation was not refundable, I got some good advices from friends, managed to have Sara excited about the trip so Saturday morning, 7am we started our journey.
We stopped on the way for breakfast and reached the parking in Salamanca by 12. As it was too early for checking in, we started our tour of the city and what better start then Plaza Mayor. The architecture reminds me of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid: imposing, mirrored facades except the City Hall which was meant to be even more imposing. As we moved the eyes from the City Hall to the right, through a passage we could already see the market where even with masks on (thanks Covid!) we could smell the sausages… Around the corner and we started walking down the pedestrian street of San Pablo we stopped at Convento de San Esteban. Beautifully carved façade, calm courtyard and with expo of articles from South America, for a time when we really believed that we were civilizing the world. It was still too early for lunch when we got our so we continued our walking tour to the Cathedral but just as we got there we got a call back to go to the accommodation to get the keys. So we walked back up on Rua Mayor, got the keys and stopped for lunch at Lio. After lunch we went back to the Cathedral looking for the astronaut and the rabbit. Yes, right, when in 1992 the new Cathedral (built in the 16 century) got a major renovation, the astronaut was added to the decor element. I managed to find it, as well as the rabbit but learned that a dragon eating an ice-cream, a lynx, a bull, a stork and a crayfish are also to be found… Next time!
Some words about the Cathedral (s) because yes, there are two- the old one (from 12-13 century) and the new one (from the 16 century) united. One visiting can clearly see the difference between the two, with the old part being more minimalist, with a painted altar like the Orthodox ones (actually there were some notes that this is of eastern influence). If you visit the Cathedral (s) do go visit as well the towers. Apart from exercising a little one gets to see the roofs of the churches plus a really beautiful view over Salamanca.
Once the Cathedral was checked, we walked towards the Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, that is a parc dedicated to the love of Calixto and Melibea- a kind of Romeo and Juliet in the Spanish version and with a little more freedom of spirit. By this time my mobile was without battery. Great! We started walking towards the Roman bridge. On the way we saw the entrance to the history museum of automotive and thought if we get some extra points if we go in but decided we can live without the points. The Roman bridge used to be the only access way to the old city (surrounded with walls, of course). Nowadays the river can hardly be seen but the bridge is in really good shape.
Next stop was for water. And a beer. And a tinto de verano. Afterwards we went to look for the second mistery- the frog sitting on a skull on the façade of the University of Salamanca.
The legend says that when students arrive for the very first time at the renowned University of Salamanca, they are greeted with a challenge: if they can spot the tiny frog carved into the intricate stone facade of the university’s main building, they will surely have great academic success and pass their exams without a problem. Anyone interested for a tip?
Since it was almost closing time, we did not visit the university. Instead we kept walking past the Casa de las Conchas (house of the seashells) and the Universidad Pontifica, Palacio de Monterrey and stopped for some impromptu shopping of second hand books. Before dinner we stopped for a cocktail. Oh yes, this is something funny, if it crosses your mind to order a Campari orange or a Lynchburg lemonade, better come with the recipe. We had a good dinner at Cuzco after waiting for about 30 min. The place is small but very sought after so we did not mind waiting for the meal that was really good! And with the first day ended, we went to bed.
Although we still had things un-checked in Salamanca we decided to get out of the city on Sunday and with some good recommendations and checking some “saved in want-to-go” places we decided to go south. Our first stop, for breakfast and a nice walk: Candelario. With its narrow streets, bikers and batipuertas this little place charmed us!
Next stop: Mirador de la Memoria. A while ago, talking with my galician friends, I got to see a documentary about some of the victims of Franco’s dictatorship. The documentary really moved me. Like any atrocity- call it Holocaust, communism, dictatorship power was misused and we forgot being human. I was hoping we have the place just for us. We had the drive to there just for us (luckily!) through a windy and narrow road but the place was not crowded but let’s say not just for us. The four statues are impressive. Set on cliffs looking out to a valley they almost speak “where are we?” I left the place with a clear target: learn more about Franco’s time.
We then headed back north, passed by Salamanca and stopped for lunch in El Perdigón. But before explaining why we choose this place, let me ask you if you can imagine yourself having to declare that you were born/lived in El Cubo de Tierra del Vino- if I am right with my translation: the earthen bucket of wine 🤔😁. That’s not a challenge, this place really exists and one day you might come across some people living there. Back to Perdigón- at the end of an almost deserted road to nowhere lays this place famous for its underground restaurants. We did not get to eat underground- you know, thank you Covid!- but did get the chance to visit one and eat upstairs and check out the 100m male Olympic finals.
with our stomachs full we debated weather to stop in Zamora or go for Allariz. In the end we hit the road to Allariz. To the galician lands and back to the moody weather- and right now I discovered another reason why I like this land- because it’s like me!
Allariz was greyish and rainy when we arrived but we still did our small tour with a promise to come back. Beautiful small town with stone streets a newly redesigned river area. This shows money good invested!
And since we’re both pretty but not rich, we had to go back home and prepare for another Monday at work. But it was good to get back to traveling, sightseeing, exploring and wondering at the beauty around us…
Hope you will enjoy the photos!