Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has bestowed upon men; no treasures that the earth holds buried or the sea conceals can compare with it
-Don Quijote de la Mancha, part 2, chapter 58
I think I’m already in love with the place. Finding that quote on one of the buildings seemed too fitting not to include. (I tried to translate it myself at first, but then decided the official translation sounded better.) Arriving on a Sunday has meant finding a peaceful quiet here that I hadn’t expected; a lot of the shops are closed and therefore less people are about. I’ve found it calming; a surprisingly gentle hello to this beautiful city.
The journey here went very smoothly, so smoothly in fact that I can almost forgive Daylight Saving Time for depriving me of an additional hour of sleep on a morning where I already had to wake up at 5am. After my flight into Madrid I caught my Avanzabus coach to Salamanca, settling in for a cosy ~3 hour drive. To my pleasant surprise there were individual screens for entertainment and I settled in to watch Chef (in Spanish, of course). It’s a very heart-warming film, and set me up perfectly (if a little hungry) for the picturesque approach to Salamanca.
Once I’d settled in to my new home with my host, I set off with a two-part mission in mind: to find the school where I start attendance tomorrow, and to buy a map. And in my typical wandering, bad-sense-of-direction, curious sort of way, I managed to find both, and more.
Stumbling into the Plaza Mayor entirely by accident was probably the best way I could have come across it. There I was, standing on a perfectly normal street, thinking ‘that’s a nice archway’ only to walk towards it and find the other side…was the stuff of postcards. Indeed, one of the iconic images that inspired me to visit Salamanca in the first place. I must try for a panoramic shot when I have a day with better lighting – it’s exactly the sort of broad, 360-degree wonder that panoramic shots seem designed for.
Another thing I noticed as I walked around was an abundance of shops selling Iberico ham. In correlation with this, a number of similar shops selling it in bocadillos, and a few of those also selling it as part of something called a hornazo. It’s a thin savoury pastry containing a selection of pork: chorizo, jamón and pork loin. Now that I’m looking it up, I’ve learnt that it’s a traditional dish of Salamanca. In its full form it’s a round pie, but I only bought one slice to go. Alas, I ate it before it occurred to me to take a picture. Oops. Have this picture instead:
Well, I’d better catch up on the sleep I’m missing. Oh, and did I mention that my host has a dog? Small, white, fluffy, energetic, and utterly absent from the email correspondence. I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised to see the other. I think we’re friends now.