La ruta de los Castillos

Hello!

When we drove back up from Salamanca, Dad insisted that we took the long road, through Castilla y Leon, so that we could have a look at the old Spanish castles.

First stop, Avila, an old city surrounded by the most perfect fortification I have ever seen:

Next stop, Coca. Yes, of course we drank a Coca Cola in front of Coca’s castle… For me, it looked as if someone had asked a 5 years old to draw a castle and then decided to build it. It is turned into a school if I understood well, so when you enter it it’s all brand new! Coca is a beautiful tiny little village, we had a picnic in front of the castle with our new cat friend.

Last stop of the day was Peinifiel, a castle on top of a hill. Brilliant view on the nothingness that is Castilla y Leon.

Saludos!

M.

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La Alberca

Hello!

A good three weeks already that I’ve left Spain, and I still have a few things I wanted to talk about here.

After our first stop in Ciudad Rodrigo, we headed to La Alberca, a tiny little village that my Dad really wanted to show us. Apparently, when he first went to visit it a good 30 years ago, La Alberca was the poorest place in Spain, stuck in the middle age, with no pavements at all, pigs running around the streets, and children playing in the mud.

La Alberca has changed an awful lot, and the first thing we’ve seen there, was a huge tourist bus parked in front of the village. It has been renovated keeping the old architecture, the streets are paved, and it is full of souvenir shops. It was a gorgeous hot day, we strolled along the streets and found the most amazing Jamon shop (ham). Only if you’ve been into one you’ll know the gorgeous smell of a good smoked Spanish ham. C., Dad and I went litterally crazy in there, bought tons of ham and chorizo to take home, but also enough to make the most delicious picnic of our lives! We first bought enough for the picnic and when we realized how little it actually cost us, we went back in there and bought the whole store. La Pata Negra, probably the most expensive ham – but so delicious – on the planet is originally from that region, if I am not mistaken.

We then drove to La Pena de Francia, which is a huge monastery on top of a mountain. The sky was very clear and my Dad was so exited to finally see it without fog. They say on clear days you can see all the way to the atlantic ocean, past Portugal. We drove drove drove up until maybe, 2km from the top when… the road was closed! No way, so close from our goal and yet unreachable… Of course you can climb to the top, but we did not have enough time ahead of us, so we just sat there, looking at it while devouring our ham and cheese…

As we were slowly driving back to Salamanca, we noticed a cherry tree packed with red cherries on the side of the road… Then another one, and another one, cherrie trees everywhere! Dad didn’t want us to eat them, he says it’s stealing, as far as I’m concerned I do not care! C and I went to pick a full bag of cherries!! All the branches on the side of the road weren’t holding any cherries so I guess we weren’t the only ones unable to resist their call…

Cheers!

M.

La Alberca

La Alberca

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La Pena de Francia

La Pena de Francia

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Day trip to Ciudad Rodrigo

Hello!

_IGP9445The day before I left Spain, I finally had the chance to pay a visit to Ciudad Rodrigo, a village on the west side of Spain, some 90 km from Salamanca. I had heard of it from quite a lot of people, and indeed it is quite a beautiful place! Very much like Salamanca but with a very village feel, and probably that’s what would have happened to Salamanca if they did not have this amazing university.

We arrived late morning, to an empty village, only a few old people sipping a beer and gossiping in the ‘Plaza Mayor’. To be honest, it seemed like a giant nursing home, however, a very lovely one. The temperature was already appraoching the thirties, we strolled along the paved streets, admiring the storks and old architecture. The cathedral is simply huge and I am always so impressed that even the smallest villages in Spain boast an enormous cathedral – among other churches, monasteries and convent.

Ciudad Rodrigo is very tipical of Castilla y Leon. They say this is the poorest region of Spain, and I believe it. Cities are deserted by young people, there is no activity at all, wether you’re driving on the roads or visiting the places. No cars, no trucks, no farming, just nothing. Thank god for the beautiful architecture and the tourists coming accross the area or all of these places would be wiped out of the map.

That’s all for today, I hope you enjoy the pictures, and be sure to give Ciudad Rodrigo a try if you have the chance, it is lovely!

Cheers,

M.

Hasta luego Espana…

Hello!

20130613_204109I am still so unused to my new life, living with my parents again, for the first time in 6 years bothers me more than I thought it would.

But anyway, my last week in Spain was full of events and I think it’s time I share a little bit…

I finished my last exam on Tuesday and took a bus straight to Madrid to meet my bestie C. that I hadn’t seen for 6 months already. The weather was brilliant, 34° sunshine, couldn’t hope for anything better!! We had a crazy night and spend the next day paying for it… Got back to Salamanca on Thursday, and that’s when I learnt, the TERRIBLE news!!! I failed an exam. Never in my life it has happened to me. Did not see that one coming really, so I did what I never do: I went to the teacher to ask for help, get some extra work for some extra credit (this subject is the very last I need to pass to graduate, so be understanding I do not usually care that much!), or whatever he’d be willing to make me do… Well let me tell you: MISTAKE. Never in my life have I been screamed at like that, litterally humiliated in public. It’s all a good joke now when I think of it, but I was in such a rage afterwards, and eventually I still can’t graduate because of it…

Anyway, my point was a last post about my dear Salamanca. It was a heartbreak to leave it with such a beautiful sunshine, but hey, after leaving the Down Under there were no tears left to be shed. We spend the last three days sightseeing the region, eating tapas and drinking sangria. My dad drove down for the week end and he was like a kid, reunited with his old Salamanca, telling us all the stories of his mad student days here 😉

So this is my last batch of pictures of Salamanca: the Universidad Antigua. I will miss these old buildings for sure. But at least I hope that will give some of you the idea of visiting it…

Cheers!

M.

The end is near!!

Hello everyone!

Omg, this might be my last week end of studying! I am, EVER! Wow, I just can’t imagine a life without anything hanging over my head anymore…

However, I still have one more final to go on Tuesday, no words can tell how exited I am for it to be over. Salamanca is just so quiet, toooooo quiet these days!! Two weeks ago, the streets suddenly emptied and the libraries filled up, the sound of the silence at night prevent me from sleeping, and Salamanca isn’t just quite the same without all the crazy students partying. I bet next week will be MAD!

So, here’s a little pick at what are exams week like in Salamanca:

  • A lot of tea and coffee:

 

  • Some chilling in the sun:

 

  • A LOT of procrastination studying:

 

  • Some … distraction:

 

  • A few sweets:

 

Good luck to all of you enduuuuuuring…

Cheers!

M.

Spring in Salamanca!

Hello!

How is it going?

IMG_20130525_211409We are having a wonderful weather in Salamanca these days, couldn’t wish for anything better! My main complaint about this city is always that there are no green spaces at all… No parks, nowhere really to take a lovely walk or relax on a sunny afternoon. Well, I am so wrong… I am French… I can’t help it, I have to complain all the time…

If you head down to the river banks, el rio Tormes, you will find a lovely walking trail, and last week end it was packed of people playing ball, children running all over the place, groups of friends drinking beers, it had a serious feel of Spanish summer!

They plan for the rain to come back on Friday, so I am going to enjoy the last rays of sunshine and leave you with pictures of blue sky…

Cheers!

M.

 

Travel Theme: costumes

La Tuna de Salamanca

La Tuna de Salamanca

So initially, I was aiming for the band, when this old man came in front of the crowd (this is the Tuna de Salamanca, there are an old tradition of Salamanca, very reknown) and started dancing completly possessed by the music. Very Spanish like!

This post is part of the Travel Themes. If you want to participate go and check this blog.

xx

M.

Being a tourist in your own city, part II

Hello,

The rain has returned to us, but that won’t stop me from showing you my sunniest photos oh no!

My favorite part of Salamanca is, if you follow me you probably have noticed, the old city. Wandering on the paved streets, admiring the architecture, the storks flying all over my head, with a slight breeze to keep me from being too hot (rarely happens). I can’t get enough of Calle Compania, my favorite of them all, and Rua Mayor.

IMG_20130307_161721Salamanca boasts two cathedrals and today, and as I already talked about the Catedral Vieja, today I want to introduce you to the Catedral Nueva y el Convento San Esteban.

To enter, you will have to pay a fee, something like 2€ for students, and that gives you access to the Convent and the cathedral. There is also a wee museum inside, which explains the fee, however, it was closed when we went, because ‘it’s morning’. It did not stop them from charging us, but anyway, that is Spain, I stopped questionning long ago!

I love the fact that they put magnifying mirrors on the ground so you can have a proper look at all the details on the ceilings. The staircase is once again, gorgeous. You can go upstairs in the church, to have the best view possible on the whole thing. I find that immense golden/wooden thing behind the altar quite extraordinary, for I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, except in La Iglesia Clerecia. Any idea what it is?

One funny fact about Salamanca, is that you have hidden characters carved on the walls of the monuments, amoung the usual monstrous characters… The Catedral Vieja holds an astronaut, and the old Uni has a frog hidden on one of its outside. It is a must do when you come to Salamanca, the frog on the uni is one of the symbols of the city. The legend says whoever can see it will be ensured luck on his next exams… My first exam being Saturday, I pray that the wee frog won’t forget me! Can you see it? (click on the pic to make it appear full screen)

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Well, that is all for today. I think I have now given you all of my insights on the cultural Salamanca, you can go and see some of the previous posts if you are interested by what the rest of the city offers.

xx,

M.

Being a tourist in your own city…

Hello!

_IGP9253How was your week end? As far as I’m concerned, 4 days of sunshine have reconciled me with Salamanca!

Which is why I felt like it was time I shared some of my tourist experience in the city… When you settle somewhere, even though you know when the end will be, ultimately you’ll wait for the very end to finally start visiting…

It took me the visit of a friend to finally do something: la Universidad Pontificia y la Iglesia Clerecia will be my main focus today. This university is the oldest of Europe, it is a very special, quiet place to visit. You need to pay a fee to get in, you’ll have a guide to explain it all along the way, but students are actually attending this school! You can also pay to go up in the church, and from there you’ll have a great view on Salamanca and the Catedral Vieja. The whole thing is, if I remember well, around 6 euros.

One interesting historical fact, if you look at the photos, there is one with names written on a wall. They are all over the university and they are the names of all the doctorates of the Universidad Pontificia since the beggining of times… In the old days, when a student would get his doctorate, a huge party would be organized on Plaza Mayor, ten bulls would be brought for a corrida, and the name of the newly graduate would be written on the wall with the blood of the bulls. The little sign you see on top of the names are the symbol of the university of Salamanca.

 

If you have the opportunity to go to Spain, take a day or two to visit Salamanca, it is worth it.

Cheers!

M.