20 Mar The Magic of Salamanca, Spain
Vannesa U. experienced a magical moment in Salamanca, Spain as she revels in the tranquility of the Spanish university town with her travel buddy.
I wish I could tell you I was thrilled to get out of the city, and could not pack fast enough! I wish I could tell you I could not wait to get on that bus! But the only thing I was excited about was my warm, beige/hot pink bed and Netflix. It was past 9 p.m. when Sarah texted me to ask if I still wanted to go to Salamanca with her the next morning. Of course I was still going! I would never waste a paid bus ticket, and booked accommodation. This trip was happening no matter what. I was just riding out a rough patch in my relationship with Spain. Maybe it was all the unusual rainy, gray days that lowered my mood so much (though I love rain). I had lost my voice a bit, and I was drained from work. When it rains a lot, students don’t get their normal outdoor recess, which makes them wild. Yes, I am a private teacher. I also have 7 private students after school, plus my own mental deadlines for writing. I was coping with yoga, but renewing my residency on Friday was a series of extremely rude interactions. I blew up that afternoon. Tears, spaghetti and a long-distance phone call to my boyfriend in Mexico. Spain was not so charming anymore. Maybe I just crave new places every so often. Maybe my dream life is more nomadic than I thought. Or maybe I was just having a rough week, and yoga wasn’t cutting it.
Sarah seemed relieved to find I still wanted to come with her, though my enthusiasm was lacking. Once we arrived, I did enjoy Salamanca’s beauty. Fresh air, at last! I loved seeing Spain’s oldest University, where great minds studied theology, politics, Latin, science and law. Unfortunately, the famous University façade was being remodeled and covered up. I still enjoyed the ride back in time. The Convento de San Esteban was also beautiful. It reminded me of the convent in Toledo, with a square garden in the middle of the building – in typical Spanish fashion. Because Salamanca is a college town, we wanted to check out the night life…but my cough got progressively worse, so I finished my tea, and Sarah finished her wine glass before midnight.
My favorite sight was certainly the Cathedral. It’s actually two cathedrals (the old and the new one) but you can hardly distinguish them apart. Going up the Cathedral’s medieval towers is such a great deal, they should be charging more than 3,75 €! What makes going up the tower so special is that it is not just a staircase that takes you to a great viewpoint. You walk through the inside of the cathedrals from the top (ceiling area). It brings a new perspective to appreciate the architecture and grandiosity of the structure. My favorite little thing was an astronaut on the entrance – random addition from 1993 that no one has explanation for. There is also a dragon that’s caused quite the dilemma as to whether he is holding a microphone or an ice cream cone…
On our last day, we decided to spend it in cafes, eating and reading. There is something wonderful about sitting in a chic café, in a city you don’t know, reading a book you’ve never read before. Our first spot was Novelty Café in the Plaza Mayor – often described as the most beautiful Plaza Mayor in Spain. This pricy, but tasteful café was opened in 1905, making it the oldest café in Salamanca. I thoroughly enjoyed watching how a little kid dipped his churros in thick, hot chocolate, closing his eyes when he took a bite, and staining his cheeks and hands. Our second spot was La Tahona de la Abuela, Sarah’s favorite. I ordered tortillitas (little pancakes), covered in steaming hot chocolate, and an amazing papaya and sunflower tea. This is when I began kicking my coffee addiction, and felt amazing about it! I also experimented with their blue seaweed and lemon tea.
I could attribute my returned serenity to Salamanca’s golden light at night. It could have been the glow coming off the cobblestone street after a rainy night. The autumn air was crisp and the leaves were yellow. But I won’t attribute this peace to this city. It was not Salamanca. We could have been anywhere, really. My storm turned to calm after a weekend with my best friend. I did not have to fake joy with Sarah. I was not in any way, forced to socialize or be chatty, and ready to party. I could be however I felt like being. We visited her lovely host family from when she studied abroad, and ate Greek yogurt and grapes at a little square. We laughed when the waiter brought us an entire bottle of wine for lunch, and made silly snap-chats with goat voices. We enjoyed a quiet morning, watching the sunrise from our room while reading, and an even quieter bus ride back to Madrid as we both fell asleep. This is what brought me back from my restless state into a tranquil one. It was my friend…with whom I had to fake nothing, and everything was okay.
“You are beautiful because you let yourself feel, and that is a brave thing indeed.” – Shinji Moon
Exploring new place? Going in a road trip with a friend? It’s always better if you have a a few language tricks in your sleeve to use in interacting with the locals. Start learning here.