Three Cultures Festival

So now we have come to the final day of this year's festival. Once again, the day has dawned hot and sunny, and tonight we have tickets for the final concert - Pasión Vega, one of Spain's top female vocalists and also one of my favourites. The other paying concerts I've listened to for free from my roof terrace about 200 metres from the stage, as the crow flies.
This year's festival has been bigger and better than ever. In addition to the 'paid-for' concerts, each evening there has been a one hour, free concert, each one in a different part of the village. The Festival is centred on the area you can see in the view of the village which adorns the masthead of this blog, but this year there have been more events taking place in other .
Official estimates are that last year's festival was attended by 60,000 people over the 4 days (This, in a village of around 2,500 people!). My own, unofficial, unscientific impression is that this year we have already passed that figure with a full day still to go. In its fourth year, Las Tres Culturas continues to grow. Can't wait to see what next year's brings - You, perhaps; its well worth the effort!


A Long Overdue Visit

In March 1989, we sailed into Santander and drove across Spain for the first time. For no particular reason we decided to take the route to the west of Madrid, rather than the more direct eastern route. So it was that quite by chance we found ourselves in Salamanca around five in the evening, feeling that we had driven about far enough (The roads were much more basic in those days!). The back seats of the car were down and the car was filled with a mountain of very visible baggage, so I wanted a hotel with its own carpark, and settled on the Parador, just outside the city. This was the view that faced us from our hotel room window!
The following morning, we set off again south, having just popped into the edge of the city to get some money from a bank, and headed for Frigiliana. Only then did I get around to reading the guide book entry for Salamanca, and discover that we had rushed striaght past one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. For years, we promised ourselves that we would go back, but never did.
So this year we decided that our route south from Santander should take us to Salamanca, and booked ourselves two nights in a hotel right in the heart of the old city. What an eye-opener. The twin cathedrals (photo) are as impressive inside as they are from the outside. The Romanesque 'old' cathedral dates from the 13th century, whilst the 'new', Gothic cathedral was started in 1512. The Plaza Mayor is considered by many to be the most attractive in Spain; I can well imagine that it is. It is an amazing example of Churrigueresque Baroque, built in the 18th century, and frequently hosting bullfights until 1863.
Having also one of the oldest and most important universities in Spain, means that there is no shortage of places to eat and drink at sensible prices. We had a wonderful couple of days, and Salamanca comes close to displacing Barcelona as my favourite Spanish city.


Back on Spanish Soil

We sailed over from Portsmouth yesterday with Brittany Ferries to Santander.A magical trip! I love their Pont Aven ferry which does the 24 hour crossing and has a fabulous restaurant where we ate last night. Then, this morning in the Bay of Biscay, I went out on deck around 9 o'clock. Looking out to sea, I suddenly saw dolphins heading through the swell towards the boat. Over the course of the next ten minutes, I saw more dolphins than you could reasonably hope to see in a lifetime. Then. just after twelve we saw three fin whales heading north past the boat about a quarter of a mile away, Magic!