07.07.2008 20 °C
Last year my blog entries flowed a little more effortlessly. There was no challenge finding exciting new things to share about the places I was visiting - the terrain was raw, the history was fresh and had an edge. These were countries that few back home knew about or cared to venture to in the future, complicated places with a fascinating history that deserved explaining. It was fun experience conveying what superficial understanding I had gathered of these places through observation and reading. This year, its a little different. I may be going to some obscure spots but as of now I don´t think cities like Salamanca provide a wealth of material to share.
It was a great, pretty city. The architecture was amazing - the facades of the churches more ornate, more impressive, than any I had previously seen. The town had a very relaxed vibe, the perfect college environment with manageable size and healthy array of bars. It had some great park space, particularly Plaza de Santa Anaya. I spend afternoons in this part of the city reading - it was very peaceful. The plaza mayor approached the size and greatness of Madrid´s. I enjoyed walking around, never getting bored and always being pleasantly surprised by a new building, a new park, a new something to capture my attention.
The major drawback though, and I imagine anyone traveling here would list this as the number one complaint, was the sheer number of American students that have infested the city. I heard more English than Spanish in the center. Now, I know I am part of that problem, but I hope that although I havent mastered this language - I am more conscious of my behavior and make a greater effort to blend in then most of those I came across. To see 18 to 22 year old Americanos acting like, well, Americanos, was a little discouraging. It makes me wonder why I am so anxious to go back, and makes me painfully aware that once I´m home for a week or two, I will desperately want to return.
I did take an interesting daytrip from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo, a small outpost close to the Portuguese border. Its historical relevance dates back to the Peninsular war (Spain reconquering Spain from the French in the early nineteenth century). It was a sleepy little place, dusty but well preserved with a surprising number of old nice homes in spite of its frontier presence and the everlooming threats of attack in its past. Its city walls remain intact though are not always in great condition depending on where you are. Still, you are able to circle the city walking along them offering good views of both the town but also the surrounding countryside. It was enjoyable and given how few tourists there were - and almost no Americans - I glad I did it.
I am not in Galicia - Santiago de Compostela. I have taken day trips to both Pontevedra and A Coruña - both were very pleasant. I will write more soon, but it was a great stop - the countryside is some of the best I have seen in all of Spain and the town itself, here in Santiago, with the cathredal, the pilgrims, and the stone homes in the inner core of the city are very nice. More soon - tonight off to Granada!