We’d originally considered going further west, stopping in Bilbao, however, we decided to head south to Salamanca instead – which was nearly 500km away!
It was a long day’s drive, passing by endless flat fields of agricultural land.
The day was broken up with occasional break from the plains, including passing through a few little rocky towns.
But, the highlight was one of the giant bull billboards that we’d seen on tops of hills. We learnt a little later that they were advertisements for Osborne Sherry – which is Spanish, however, was started by an Englishman, which was a little ironic to me, since it’s such an iconic Spanish image.
We managed to arrive in Salamanca just before 7PM. It was even better, as there was a free place to park a motorhome within walking distance of the old town!
We started with a visit to an Art Deco museum called Casa Lis – Risa loves the style. It was filled with artefacts from the early 20th century. It was cute, but not really my style. There was amazing stained glass roof/windows, and there were nightmare inducing dolls. Sadly, photography was not permitted, so I snuck these two while shooting from the hip.
We got our first glimpse of the cathedral, which was stunning. We stumbled upon a garden that was like an oasis, filled with flowers and lush greenery. It also gave us a few more glimpses of the cathedral.
We walked towards the cathedral and started to hear music and see crowds. We thought we’d chanced upon an impromptu musical performance, however we’d stumbled onto something even better! We could see what looked like a large platform with Jesus and some Romans. Now that we were closer, we could hear the music clearer, and it was some epic Spanish-sounding music – reminded me of something from a Western/Tarantino movie.
They eventually entered the cathedral, and the music stopped and the crowds dispersed. We took this as a chance to grab a bite to eat. Sadly, we stopped a little short, and settled for an average snack and missed some amazing looking pintxos…
After wandering around the old town, we came across crowds that were gathered on the other side of the cathedral. This time we were close enough to see the people leaving the cathedral, and were amazed at what they were wearing! It was so weird seeing people dressed in pointy hats carrying fire (candles). I realise that this would far predate the Ku Klux Klan, however, after seeing so many images of them, it’s what comes to mind for me now.
We left after the platform with Jesus passed by, and headed to Plaza Mayor – which was beautiful under the floodlights.
Amazingly, as we walked back to the car, we ran into the parade again! This time we were in a better position to see more of the parade, as the crowds had significantly thinned by now. We also saw the men underneath that float, who were all dressed with weight belts, and interesting hats/towels on their heads. There must have been 50 of them underneath, and they were all sweaty from the hard work. They swapped out, and a fresh team of men took over.
We could have stayed longer, but it was already 11PM, and we were exhausted from a long day of driving. As we walked back through town, Risa got excited to see her name in graffiti on the wall, and even more excited when we saw the nearby wisteria (her surname literally translates to ‘near wisteria’).
We also got to pass over the old roman bridge, which gave a great night view of the city. It was nearly midnight by the time we cleaned at got into bed!
We decided to stick around and visit the town again in the daytime. The cathedral was closed yesterday due to the festival, and we were pretty interested in going in side.
The inside was absolutely stunning. There is no better way to describe it, other than I was in awe, amazed at what is achievable when enough money, dedication and devotion is thrown at something. It really got me to thinking about how much effort was consumed in the name of religion, and what other feats could have been accomplished if energy, time and money had been focused in other areas.
Attached to the new cathedral was the old cathedral, which was a roman style, and there was something about it, too, that was truly captivating. It was dark, and rather austere, but it too was incredible. One thing that we didn’t expect was how cold it was going to be inside! We were hot and sweaty outside, and inside we were honestly shivering, with sniffing, dripping noses.
I later learnt how famous the Salamanca region is for jamon, which is one of our favourite Spanish ‘foods’. We passed by a small deli that had a wide range for sale. We learned about the difference between serano and Iberico (different breeds of pig, as well as an acorn rich diet). We had a leg of jamon for Christmas at work recently, and I’ve had an attempt at carving. It was amazing to see how thin (and consistently so) these guys could cut the meat. Needless to say, it melted in our mouths, needless to say, we walked out purchasing far too many different cuts of jamon.
Our last stop was to Iglesia del Espiritu Santo, where it’s possible to climb the creaky wooden steps for amazing views of the town. It was just as great to look out beyond the town, to see the beautiful country side, and the hills in the distance.
We’d heard about the challenge of finding the frog in the university gates – well, we failed, as we couldn’t even find the university gates, let along finding a frog amongst the carvings there.
We made our way back to our van in the nearby park, and started on our way to Portugal!