"Searching for the golden hue . . ." Top 5 Page for this destination Salamanca by acemj
Salamanca Travel Guide: 560 reviews and 1,333 photos
I wear a suit to work. My company is pretty conservative, so it usually comes in either blue or black with a white shirt and a fairly subdued tie, maybe in red, but not Corvette red. Things are done in an orderly way and communications are submitted in a formal, proper manner. So it shouldn't be a surprise that when I travel, I love seeing colors and chaos and struggling to communicate by any means possible. It's great visiting a place like Brazil where painted walls and painted lips jump out at you as you walk by beneath a hot sun and a bright blue sky not understanding a word of the local slang.
I had heard that Salamanca was a bit severe. Despite its UNESCO designation as a city of culture, it seems to be more well-known for its solidity. A long history which includes ties to Rome and the Visigoths and winters that are among the most frigid in Spain. It's also known for its university which is the oldest in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. In fact, at one time, it was considered one of the "four leading lights of the Medieval world" along with the Paris, Bologna and Oxford. The academic pedigree of the town and the fact that locals are said to speak the purest form of Castilian Spanish in the world have made Salamanca a magnet for students seeking to learn Spanish the right way. It's not just foreigners though as the University of Salamanca is still considered to be one of the best in Spain, attracting the type of academics that enjoy labs and libraries more than liquid libations and lusty lips.
The city is also known for its monumental buildings most of which are made of stone made from Villamayor. The monochromatic feel of the place is accentuated if the weather is gray and overcast as it was during my trip, although, in better light, the stone is said to glow in a beautiful golden hue. I would have loved to have seen the golden hue on my first day in town, but it wasn't there, so I kept on searching.
I didn't see the sun or a blue sky in Salamanca. I walked among former and current convents and cathedrals with high imposing facades. I saw a young student pacing in a square looking as if he was about to take a test that would determine the course of the rest of his life.
And just when I was about to give up on Salamanca, I went to Calle Van Dyck at night and was welcomed to some food and conversation by a local family. They shared their wine and asked me about my travels and my home in broken English. They tolerated my even more broken Spanish and when the husband smiled his red wine-stained teeth were hard to ignore. He was wearing a tan sportcoat with out-dated patches at the elbows and his wife had way too much makeup on her face and jewelry on her arms. Her bracelets clinked along with our wine glasses and their young son ran around the bar laughing and playing with little red lights pulsing from his shoes with every step. And just when I thought I'd missed the golden hue of Salamanca, it dawned on me that I was seeing it here in all its bright and flawed glory.
I was only in Salamanca for a couple days, but the only time I glimpsed the sun was as my bus was pulling out of town.... more travel advice
I took the slow, public bus from Madrid, which took two and a half hours and cost me 5 Euros. There are some private... more travel advice
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- "My favoured cultural city in Spain."
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