I would like to first point out how BEAUTIFUL Spain is, and the pictures do not do the country justice. There are also fountains EVERYWHERE.
I have been in Spain for about a week now. Before we got to Salamanca, we had orientation in Madrid, Toledo, and El Escorial.
Madrid is a HUGE city, and there was always something to do. Our hotel was pretty centrally located. Within a few minutes you could get to el Museo del Prado or el Museo Reina Sofía. There were also a few parks nearby. We spent the time we weren’t at both of the museums wandering around the city. We tried different tapa bars, and our first night was the hardest. We didn’t know where or what to eat so we ended up at a Spanish pizza place. The next day, we were much better. We actually found Spanish food. We also walked around Center City for four hours! Our group tried to get tickets for El Rey León, but it was all sold out. I ended up being so tired after our long day that I fell right asleep.
The next day was our trip to Toledo. The city is breathtaking. The architecture just does not compare to the architecture today. We stopped off at an overlook at the city. You could see the river, the bridges, all of the buildings. We were there for only about 15 minutes before we had to continue on with the tour. I would have LOVED to stay there longer. We then continued to visit el Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes and the oldest synagogue turned church. Again, the buildings are gorgeous! Unfortunately we only had one night in Toledo. I wish we could have stayed longer. If I’m ever in Spain again, that will be the first place I visit.
On our way from Toledo to Salamanca, we made a pit stop in El Escorial to visit the monastery. We didn’t do much since we were only there for a few hours, but the monastery seemed pretty cool. The tour guide we had for the monastery is so far my favorite one. He would make jokes all the time, and he taught us how to tell secrets to each other using the walls in the monastery.
After our visit to El Escorial, we were on our way to Salamanca. I started to get really nervous about my homestay and my host family. What if I didn’t like the food? What if I couldn’t communicate with my family? What if, even though I knew who my roommate was, I hated her?
After a few days in Madrid, Toledo, and El Escorial, we arrived in Salamanca, and everybody’s host families are there except for mine. My roommate Jean and I start to freak out. Everybody left, and we were still there with Carmen and the students in the residencias. Finally, a final cab shows up, and it is our host mother’s oldest daughter. We take the cab to the house, and bring our luggage upstairs. As soon as we unpacked all of our stuff, we went to explore the Plaza Mayor.
The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is SO beautiful! It is so much more beautiful than the one in Madrid. The plaza is a giant square with lots of little restaurants, cafes, heladerias, and shops. There are also about six or so streets that connect to the plaza which lead to different ares of the town. Jean and I are slowly traveling down and exploring each of the streets.
The plaza is a very popular place for everybody to meet. The most common used expression here is “Encontramos debajo del reloj a las [insert time here],” which means, “we’ll meet under the clock at [whatever time].” We usually meet at five after la comida and anywhere between 10:30 and 11 to go out at night after la cena. After la comida, we will usually go out for some ice cream or a pastry. Sometimes we will just walk around the city and get lost. After la cena, we will usually meet to go out to one of the local clubs or bars.
I haven’t gone out as much as some of my fellow group members, but I’m okay with that. There are other things to do in the plaza at night beside going clubbing. There is usually a live band playing in one of the corners, and there are always little kids playing with their toys. Sometimes, my roommate and I like to do our homework there and get a hot pudding dessert!
I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks bring!