Monday, May 27, 2013

Salamanca Saturday!

Wow, I've been crazy busy the last couple of days and haven't had time to update on our trip to Salamanca! On Saturday our group went on a trip to Salamanca, another large city in our region of Castille y Leon. The school we study at here in Avila is a branch of the University of Salamanca, so we obviously went to see the University as well. Rico, our chaperone, went along with us and so did one of the profesoras, Laura. She was kind of our "tour guide" for the day and showed us around and explained things. We left at 9am and did not get back until 9pm so it was a very long day!! The weather was gorgeous though, and we all got pretty sunburnt. The UV index every day here is at 9 (Very High), I think because we are at such a high altitude (3700 ft) and on a different point of the earth. The sun is very strong and it doesn't take long to burn! I need to invest in some sunscreen.

We walked around the city for a little bit, and the first big site we checked out was the Cathedral. The cathedrals and churches here are seriously incredible, and this was just another example of it. The architecture and the intricate designs on the inside are so interesting. Not to mention their huge size! It's amazing to think that something that big and complex can stand.

After the cathedral, we headed to a beautiful garden area. There were so many wonderful green plants and trees and cute little things. There was a well with tons of locks locked around it, where people put on a lock to "lock up their love" and then throw the key down the well. There were a lot of inscriptions and painted names and love poems on the edges and the walls of the garden as well. When we reached the edge, we had a gorgeous view overlooking the city. Here's a picture of the love lock well.

Then we stopped at a cafe where a lot of the University students like to eat/hang out so we could get some coffee and see some of the student culture of Salamanca. With the University, Salamanca is a very big college town and the students make up a large population of the city. Shanna, Emily, and I got chocolate con churros! It is a very common treat here in Spain, but none of us had actually tried it yet. It was SO delicious, but the chocolate is very rich!

We explored the University for a while, which was kind of interesting to see. It's set up very different from the Universities in the US and many of the buildings are old and historic. We got to go inside a few and see what the classrooms look like here and how things are set up. We stopped and ate our bag lunches in a nearby park, and it was so nice to be outside and enjoy the sunshine! After lunch we did some more touring and got to go inside a very large church in Salamanca. We were all getting pretty tired at this point, from the heat and all the walking. The church was really neat to see though. It's starting to get to the point where all the churches/cathedrals we go inside look the same, but they each have their own special things about them.

Here's one of my many pictures from inside the church.

Finally we headed to the Plaza Mayor. It was HUGE! Way bigger than I imagined and there were people everywhere. It was so cool to see everyone sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather. The group split up there, and then we had free time to roam around the city, shop, etc. We got some ice cream, and then headed to some various stores around town. Salamanca is known for its great shopping, and they have TONS of neat stores. It would be fun to come back one day and explore more, because we only had 2 hours and didn't get to see very many of them and everything they had to offer.

Here's the Plaza Mayor. It was a great day to be outside.

I got back home at around 9:45 after walking from the school, and then I ate dinner with my family. We talked for a little while and then I went out with my friends for the evening which was really fun. My host mom was so sweet on Saturday! She had laid out my whole bag lunch to take with me in the morning since I was leaving pretty early. When we were on the bus and almost there, my cellphone was ringing and she was calling me. I thought she needed to ask me a question or something, but she was just calling to say hello, since I hadn't seen them since dinner the night before and she was so sweet and just wanted to tell me to have a great day! And while I was gone she swept/mopped my room and changed my sheets and cleaned my bathroom.

Overall, Salamanca was a great experience and a beautiful city in Spain! I loved it and would definitely consider going back one day if I had the chance. It's only an hour down the road :)

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