Salamanca

Salamanca: Part Two

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After getting a feel for Salamanca on Day One, our second day was spent exploring the city in more depth.

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The cathedral is arguably the main attraction, it’s made up of both an old and a new part, both of which are equally impressive. The interior is stunning but I would absolutely recommend climbing the tower. You pay just 3 euros to enter and the experience is worth every cent. There were multiple viewing points all the way up; a sun terrace, a balcony overlooking the cathedral interior and, for the big finale, a huge bell tower at the top with a 360 degree view of the city. Understandably there was a lot of effort required to reach the top – in the form of a rather claustrophobic set of spiral stairs. Fortunately, unlike both York Minster and Florence’s Duomo, there was an ingenious traffic light system telling you when it was clear to ascend. This avoided the awkward must flatten self against cold stone wall to avoid personal contact with fellow tourist scenario. I was VERY grateful for this. I don‘t like invasions of personal space at any time, let alone within the restrictions of an ancient stone stairwell with limited oxygen/light/escape. In fact, the technology in place reminded me of the red and green lights you find at the top of water slides. There was a line of people, a screen on the wall, a count-down; it was a very similar setup. Fortunately the cathedral countdown was much less ominous; waiting for water slides involves the impending doom of losing your bikini or swallowing chlorine. The cathedral setting definitely decreases the risk of indecent exposure from swimwear loss, you simply have to walk down some stairs.

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Another highlight was a visit to Las Dueñas, a Dominican convent built in the 15th century.

SALALALALLAA.jpgInside was a beautiful courtyard with carved pillars, arabic archways and views of the cathedral, there was also a museum on the first floor and a nun selling handmade biscuits by the entrance below – something for everyone!SALALAAA.jpgOverall I loved Salamanca. I thought it had the right balance of beautiful architecture whilst still functioning as a modern, lively city. It was packed full of students rather than tourists and the whole atmosphere was great. Next on my to-visit list is Lisbon!Untitled

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Salamanca: Part One

Just a week has passed since I made my Spring Travel Itinerary and I’m happy to report that I’ve already ticked Salamanca off the list!

I was told repeatedly by my Spanish colleagues not to go Salamanca in January due to the freeeeezing cold temperatures. However, I don’t have the luxury of time and I want to visit some city destinations during the winter months so that I can enjoy the warmer weather in more costal areas. Also, these colleagues are Spanish and have not experienced Durham winters as I have; they underestimate my temperature endurance.

So, a new bobble hat and ALL THE KNITWEAR later, this weekend I made the journey north.

Salamanca was predictably freezing, however the blue skies and sunshine made for some beautiful backdrops around the city. The first day was mostly spent traveling, but we had the afternoon to get a feel for the city. Below are some photos from Day One of exploring!salamanca.jpg salamanca3.jpg IMG_9367 salamanca4.jpg IMG_9313 salamanca7.jpg

Salamanca is a University town and UNESCO world heritage site (like Durham!) so it features plenty of beautiful buildings. It was pretty spectacular and just about the perfect size, as it’s easy to get to everything and most areas are pedestrianised. There were also LOTS of young people (quite a novel experience after living in a rural Spanish town), so that was a lovely change.

On the second day we climbed the Cathedral tower and explored the stunning Las Dueñas convent, so pop back for Salamanca Part Two!Untitled

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As I type, I’m sat home alone in my apartment waiting for the plumber to show up. This is proof that the year abroad isn’t always as ideal as my Instagram posts might suggest…

Our hot water stopped working yesterday and since phoning Antonio the Plumber (with whom I am on first name terms) I’ve been housebound, in eager anticipation of a hot shower and clean hair. My flatmates are in Madrid and Cáceres respectively, so I have no option other than to man the apartment until Antonio’s return.

Fortunately, I’ve put all this waiting to good use and started planning some future adventures with the intention of never spending an entire weekend inside these four walls again. With spring approaching, I can look forward to discovering more Spanish destinations and venturing further afield to surrounding countries.

So, without further ado, here’s my Spring travel itinerary (because if I publish this to my blog then it’s more likely to actually happen.)

  1. Salamanca – I plan to do a weekend break in this city later this month. I’ve seen some beautiful pictures of the main square and been told by many Spaniards that it’s a must-see destination. It’s also got a huge student population and with the inhabitants of my current town being either school-age or over 40 (and literally nowhere in between) I think it’s about time I interacted with some fellow youths.
  2. Lisbon – Living so close to the Portuguese border I can’t not visit Lisbon. When I travelled to Lagos in October I was not disappointed and Lisbon is known for being the best Portuguese city. It also has trams. I love trams!
  3. Morocco – I have wanted to visit Morocco for about five years now. With southern Spain’s proximity to Africa I simply need to take a bus and a ferry to get there – which is a lot cheaper than flying from England. The ‘blue city’ of Chefchaouen looks breathtaking and I can’t wait to take 1028441239 photos.
  4. Granada – Before I came to Spain, Granada was my number one on my travel hitlist. I’ve seen numerous photos of the Alhambra and I’m desperate see it in person. In fact, I’m thinking of ticking this one off the list for my 21st birthday in May. It would make a wonderful contrast to the previous six revision/exam filled birthdays that I’ve celebrated. It should be gloriously sunny there too.
  5. Cadiz – For a bit of beach action I’m thinking of heading to Cadiz. Cadiz apparently boasts narrow streets and spacious plazas with plenty to see and do. The city has an old town, a modern area AND a magnificent coast. This means I can sightsee, shop and sunbathe all in one weekend – amazing!

Any advice regarding places to stay or things to do in these locations would be great. Alternative recommendations are also welcome; I have approximately nineteen weekends left in Spain and I want to see as much as possible!Untitled