Tuesday, November 12, 2013

{travel} salamanca, spain

Walking through the empty streets was so relaxing.

One of the obvious goals I really want to accomplish during my year abroad is to travel as much as possible. Visiting new countries is such a thrill. I love stepping into new cultures, learning the history of each city and famous monument, trying local cuisines cooked by the people who know how best, and hearing all of the beautiful languages and accents. This goal has only been partially met during my first 10 months living in Europe, but that doesn't mean I haven't been traveling. While I know I need to step up my EU game and visit more countries than just England, Holland, and Spain in my last 7 months or so (although I'll be checking the Czech Republic off of my list soon - see ya this weekend, Prague!!), I feel totally at peace. ¿Por que?

Because I have been traveling the heck out of beaaautiful Spain. Salamanca is the 13th Spanish city I have visited this year. Something that continues to surprise me is how different each city is. While there is, of course, a constant theme of Spanish culture with all of the jamon, tapas & pinchos, siestas, and a million and one cathedrals, each city has its own unique flair unlike anywhere else in Spain. It is a country that I am so proud to call my other home.

Calle de Rua Mayor - the road that leads to everything.

I'm not sure why, but I was expecting Salamanca to be a bit more of a bustling city. I'm glad that I was wrong about that! It was so lovely to get out of busy Madrid for a couple of days, and relax in the Old Town of Salamanca. It was extremely easy to navigate around, because the center of the city is quite small and well laid out. Plus, there are a bunch of huge, beautiful monuments to help guide you around the city.

Plaza Mayor - pure perfection.

The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is supposedly one of the most beautiful plazas in all of Spain. I definitely can't disagree. The architecture of the buildings around the plaza are very similar to Madrid's Plaza Mayor. In fact, it looks almost identical. However, there is one main component missing - all of the creepy Spongebobs, Spidermans, llamas, and more that crawl around Madrid's Plaza Mayor, bothering tourists in hope for a euro or two. It was nice to see a Plaza Mayor admired by tourists, but actually used by locals as well.

Street art in Salamanca. The artist uses permanent markers and crayons on the walls!

The side of Casa de las Conchas - a good example of the sandstone architecture.

Salamanca is perhaps the most famous for its beautiful sandstone buildings that seem to so effortlessly blend with the pretty granite/tile and cobblestone roads.

Pure joy.

Is there anything better than traveling during autumn? Yeah.... didn't think so. I have been wanting to take a picture like this for a while (no judgments :)!), so when my roommate and I saw this big pile of leaves, I knew the moment had come! Too bad these pictures are way harder to take than they look... haha

Statue and trees near the old Roman Bridge. We walked down the bridge to get a good view of the cathedral.

Aaaand there it is! The sky looked so photoshopped that day!

Elbow patches, thick rimmed glasses, and an adorably dressed baby - welcome to Spain folks.

A plaza just outside of Plaza Mayor.

Another beautiful sandstone building.

I kept telling my roommate while we walked down this street that it felt like we were on a movie set. Everything was so perfect.

La Catedral de Salamanca.

Okay, if you everrrrr find yourself in Salamanca, you MUST MUST MUST do the 3,75 euro Cathedral Tower tour. Bre & I assumed going up the tower was going to be just like every other tower we have climbed in Europe: a ton of scary, windy stairs and a nice view. While the tower climb did have scary stairs and a beautiful view, it was soooooo much more than that! Bre said it best, "I feel like I need to pay them more money for this...."

First, start at the gorgeous side entrance of the cathedral. Take in the awesome doors and carvings, then walk around to the back and enter the towers.

You might be scared for your life a few times while walking up the old medieval steps, especially when they've had to put some steel in to reinforce the original steps crumbling before. It's okay. Keep going.

Because ultimately, you get here. I could reach over and touch the ROOF!

Make sure to take lots of pictures from every angle of the first terrace.

Did I mention that this little walking tour takes you to an upper floor of the cathedral? Yup. Ridic.

I feel like I need not say anything else and just let the above photo do the rest of the talking. Visit the towers!

And yet another shot of the cathedral. I was a bit obsessed.

Our favorite meal during our trip.

Although we were a bit disappointed by the lack of free tapas, or even olives, in Salamanca, the prices, quality, and sizes at La Fresa more than made up for it. It was an unassuming restaurant on a side street outside of the center of the city. We decided to go in because it was filled to the brim with locals. We ordered tapas of mushrooms, chorizo, and goat cheese on bread. Everything was good, but man oh man... I'm still dreaming of those garlicky champiñones. Yumm. Each tapa cost around 1,50, and our glasses of wine weren't much more. Spain at its best.

Also, you might get to stare at a jamon leg all night.... get excited!

Another must do - take as many photos as possible of the beautiful sandstone buildings and quiet squares. Also, check out the university!

And finally, spend at least one night in Salamanca. Besides the great nightlife, as it is a university town, it is just generally a really cool place to be at night. All of the big monuments, like the cathedral, Plaza Mayor, and the Convent are lit up beautifully starting just after the sun sets.

Convento de San Esteban

While Salamanca probably wouldn't be a destination most tourists would put on their itineraries, it is certainly a worthy trip for at least two days and one night. 

Must dos: 
- Walk around at night to take in the energy of the locals and the beautiful lit-up buildings
- Order the tapa de champiñones at La Fresa.

Have you ever been to Salamanca?

xx, Jen


  1. This place sounds awesome! I haven't ever been there but I am certainly adding it to my list now!!

  2. How did I miss this when you originally posted it?! I studied in Salamanca my senior year in high school and I'm dying to go back! Your photos brought back so many memories!


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