My first month in Salamanca has gone too fast. The time slipped away somewhere between the café con leche and tapas and aimlessly going into gift shops even though they all basically have the same things.
When I was saying goodbye to my friends and family back home, four and a half months seemed like forever. But now I’m worried I won’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do. So to remind myself to stop being such a baby about the cold weather and not waste any time, and also to show off some of the things that make Salamanca unique, I decided to make my first blog post a Salamanca bucket list.
Disclaimer: Some of these things I’ve actually already done. But come on. Who hasn’t written something on their bucket list just for the satisfaction of crossing it off? It’s not cheating.
1. Find the frog on the university façade
The original University of Salamanca building is a plateresque maze that is beautiful and overwhelming to look at. Somewhere among the intricate detailing is one small frog sitting on a skull. It’s said that the frog brings luck to those who can pick it out. I could use some for my history exams.
2. Be a tourist!
I’m just a geeky tourist pretending to be a trendy local.
3. Walk the trail along Río Tormes
I originally wrote “run on the trail along Río Tormes.” Then I remembered I don’t run. Walking gives me more time to take in the beautiful sights.
4. Churros and chocolate at Valor
Valor is a huge chocolate brand all over Spain and is not unique to Salamanca, but it is definitely the most popular place for churros y chocolate with both the tourists and the locals. Maybe I should reconsider that run….
5. Find the milk vending machine
After those churros, all you really want is a nice glass of milk. But my host mom doesn’t give us milk. Plus, in Spain milk comes in a box and that kind of weirds me out. Luckily, some of my friends have come across a vending machine-type thing that dispenses milk like a soda fountain. I don’t know where or why, but I know I must find it.
6. Sit on the ground in the middle of the Plaza Mayor and eat McDonalds.
People do this. All the time. I don’t get it, but hey, when in Rome.
7. Live music at Café Corrillo
For some silly reason I was under the impression that when I came to Spain I would hear a lot less American music. I was wrong. Spanish radio and DJs do not only play the current top songs in the states, they also take it back to circa seventh grade with nostalgic hits from artists like Usher, Outkast, 50 Cent, the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg, and every once in a while something super random like the theme song from Friends. Café Corrillo is right outside of the Plaza Mayor and features a lot of live music from local artists. I can only take so much Gangnam Style.
8. Ride a motorcycle/moped
Lucky for me, my host brother has a small collection.
9. Read a book in Spanish.
I am slowly working my way through Cien años de soledad (One hundred years of solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez. Which means I am also working my way through the Spanish-English dictionary.
Every day I walk down Calle Zamora to get to the Plaza Mayor or to class, and there are always these two guys with a little metal hut who literally roast chestnuts over an open fire. You can buy 10 chestnuts for 1€. I don’t really know what a chestnut tastes like nor would I know how to eat one, but I’m intrigued.
11. Go shopping at the Rastro
The Rastro is a street market that takes place every Sunday morning near the Tormes River. Sounds like a good place to knock out some souvenir shopping and make myself leave the house before lunch.
12. Go see an actual Spanish movie
My roommate and I have made two valiant attempts at seeing a Spanish movie. Both turned out to be originally in other languages and dubbed over in Spanish. Side note: going to the movie theater is actually cheaper than in the U.S. and they give you reasonably-sized popcorn and drinks.
13. Tapas on tapas on tapas
EAT ALL THE TAPAS.
14. Make Spanish friends.
Because I live with a host family and have classes with all international students, it’s more difficult than I thought it would be to meet Spanish people. Hopefully doing some of the things on this list will give me an opportunity. I imagine it would go something like this: “Hello, I see that you too are eating McDonalds in the middle of the Plaza. Lets share some ketchup and then get BFF bracelets.” Or, “Oh, me? Why yes, I’m just casually reading Cien años de soledad under this here tree. Would you like to engage in an intellectual discussion about literature and then be my friend?” And so on. But in all seriousness, I think that becoming friends with someone who lives or studies in Salamanca would be a great way to get to know the city from an insider’s perspective. It would also force me to speak Spanish, which I don’t do enough of since almost all my friends speak English.
15. Figure out the metric system and the Celsius scale.
Just kidding. That will never happen.