Salamanca – what a wonderful surprise

I finished my last post by noting that we were expecting rain the following day and so would be van bound.

To a certain extent this is what happened.  I went out for a walk in the morning to try to find the Mercadona that, I thought, was a mile and a half up the road somewhere.  I was trying to get there and back before the rain was due to hit.  Halfway there I still had over a mile to go – google maps has a habit of giving you the distance ‘as the crow flies’ and then giving you the real distance when you press the start button – or so it seems to me anyway!

So I decided to turn back after popping into the local garage (where I discovered the diesel was priced at 1.08 per litre), as I thought I probably wouldn’t avoid the rain otherwise.  As it happened I was right, but that didn’t stop Calv from giving me a really hard time for not making it to the shop!!

Calv was keen to cycle on the tracks that we’d found the previous day, so he donned his wet gear and went off.  I got on with some chores (and had a bit of a read of my book) and he cycled about 25km and came back really happy (and really wet).

The rain, once it started, was unrelenting, and then we had a real surprise when it turned to snow and started laying.  When we woke in the morning it was to a carpet of white!

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A snowy March day in Salamanca

We therefore changed our original plan – to cycle into the city along the river (there is a very good path along the river from the campsite), and decided to catch the bus instead.  The bus stop is about 3/4 mile from the campsite and the cost was 1.40 each, each way.  The bus drops you on the Gran Via (and to return you get on exactly where you’re dropped off) and from there it is easy to find the sites.

It’s probably best to head for Plaza Mayor first as this is where the Tourist Information is situated.  We didn’t we kept walking along the Gran Via and came across our first monument, the Convento de San Estaban.  We weren’t sure it was open at first as there was some sort of emergency services exercise going on.  It cost 3 Euros each to get in and was definitely worth it, with the cloisters, staircase, confessionals and, of course, the church to see.

 

On leaving San Estaban we headed up past the cathedral(s) and one of the many university/college buildings.  Then right up towards the Plaza Mayor where there were numerous eateries and bars to choose from.

We then wandered fairly aimlessly wondering at all the amazing buildings that we saw at every turn – literally!  We found a church, Vera Cruz, that looked nothing extra special really from the outside, but when you went in it was amazing (we didn’t get any pictures as there were people in there praying).

Walking back down from here we came across a house inscribed ‘Casa de Muerte’, or ‘House of the Dead’.  Under the window sills there were skulls (not real ones; well I don’t think so anyway…!)  Calv had wandered off to take some more photos while I was looking at this and a Spanish guy started talking to him (he thought he was scared of his dog).  This gent, Antonio Grande, was a very interesting man; a former English and History teacher he had spent a lot of time in the UK, including Portsmouth, our home town, and Swansea, my dad’s birthplace.

He told us the best places to visit and a very brief history and I decided to ask him about the ‘House of the Dead”’ – he told us that apparently a woman married and lived with 3 husbands in this house.  All 3 of them were murdered and apparently sealed in the walls, where they were found hundreds of years later when renovations were made….  There are other legends detailed in the link that I’ve included above.

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Thank you Antonio Grande for bringing our visit to Salamanca to life 🙂

 

We then wandered a little more and headed to the Scala Coeli (3 euros each), 200 steps up 2 towers from which the views are amazing.  You can also visit the Papal university here, but unfortunately this didn’t open until 5pm.  The views were indeed amazing and we could also see into ‘the shell house’ opposite (unfortunately closed at the moment due to renovations), but so-called as the outer walls are covered in about 300 shells.

Finally it was time to visit the cathedral, or rather cathedrals.  There is a new cathedral, started in 1513, and the old cathedral, started in the 12th century.  They are actually connected and you can pay 4.75Euros each to visit both.

The new cathedral is beautiful and has several chapters ranged around the outer walls and 2 organs, 1 considerably older than the other.  It is much larger than the old cathedral, which also has 2 extremely old organs of it’s own.  It was also severely damaged in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and has undergone some re-building following this.  For me this was a more interesting visit.

(Apologies for the quality of the photos – Calv was taking so many photos that the battery on his camera ran out.  Before we got to the cathedral…)

We then visited the cathedral towers, more steps!  As we emerged out into the open at the top it had just started snowing again.  Again there were amazing views from the bell tower – I lost Calv when he went into the ‘clock workings’ room and I didn’t see him so carried on down to the bottom.  I had to employ my limited German to ask the 3 girls who he’d taken a photo for earlier if they’d seen him!  ‘Yes, he’s looking for you!’

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We were now pretty tired so decided to head back to the bus – we definitely slept well!!

We also only saw about a quarter of what there is to see in Salamanca.  It wasn’t on our radar in any way before visiting – it definitely is now 🙂

More details of the city can be found here:- Salamanca history

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Author: MandoraTheExplorer

I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)