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.