“Hola!,” I awkwardly muttered to the immigration officer as I handed him my passport. Without any acknowledgement, he took a 5-second look at it, flipped to my visa page then stamped my arrival. That was fast – I was officially in Spain! In the middle of the scorching summer no less. Indeed, the warnings were very apparent, even from the beginning. August was supposed to be a bad time to visit Spain , especially Central and Southern Spain but I took it with a grain of salt. Well, I got my very first taste of the Spanish summer upon exiting Madrid ’s Barajas Airport . An oven-like heat permeated in the air. My phone’s weather app told me that it was 41 degrees in the shade. A false sense of consolation went to my head, since we were going to Salamanca , and it was only 36 degrees.
view of salamanca at night
Fortunately, there was a direct bus to Salamanca from Madrid’s airport, and the search for the bus stop allowed me to practice more Spanish than just “hola.” The trip to Salamanca lasted for around 2.5 hours. During the ride, we passed by the medieval town of Avila , with its UNESCO World Heritage city walls in plain view. Salamanca itself is not a very big town. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in terms of attractions and reputation. The city is well-known as a university town and thousands of students all over the world come here to learn Spanish, where the language is considered to be in its purest form.
the la clerecia
Salamanca is also known for its architectural purity, with several fine examples of renaissance architecture in its compact and atmospheric old town. The buildings feature an almost uniform warm beige color due to the sandstone used for construction. The short stroll we had after we arrived – passing by magnificent structures such as La Clerecia and Convento de San Esteban – was a stunning reminder that I was again in Western Europe .
the plaza mayor in the day and at night – what a difference the light makes!
But most importantly, I had wanted to come to Salamanca in order to see the Plaza Mayor. These huge squares by themselves are not unique to Spain , and most towns would at least have a plaza. The impressive thing about Salamanca ’s Plaza Mayor is how it gets lit up at night. Not even Madrid ’s plaza gets a similar treatment. This is especially stunning during blue hour, when the lights are turned on and the people at the square give out a palpable gasp at the sudden transformation of the square into a shimmering spectacle.
the view from the top of the cathedral
We were only to spend a night in Salamanca as we had to leave for Madrid the next day so we embarked for an ambitious “run” through of the sights around town the next morning. We went to the massive Catedral Nuevo (New Cathedral) and climbed the tower adjacent to it for a bird’s eye view of the city with the beige-ness of the buildings much more evident this time. We also made a quick stop at the university, but found its façade under construction so we did not manage to enter anymore. It ended up being a very quick tour – there were a lot more interesting things to see in Salamanca which we did not manage to visit.
inside the new cathedral
Where we stayed:
Hostal Plaza Mayor is a cheap and clean hotel located right in the Plaza Mayor area of Salamanca and is thus very central for those aiming to sightsee in the old town.
How to get there:
Most people go to Salamanca from Madrid where there are hourly departures by bus. We took the bus from Madrid’s Barajas Airport, via Avanza Bus where there are departures every 2 hours during the day.
This entry is dedicated to the October edition of the Carnival of Europe hosted by DJ Yabis at Dream Euro Trip