Friday, September 19, 2014

Saying Good-Bye to Barcelona

We are up early to catch the high speed train to Madrid, heading to our ultimate destination today of the ancient city of Salamanca, which dates back to pre-Roman times. This is the sunrise that greets on the train.  Makes it hard to be crabby about getting up so early, eh?

Out of our hotel by 6:15am, on board the 7:00 am high speed train, I am severely in need of coffee!

This will be a 2.5 hour ride before catching a commuter train for a 13 minute jaunt to an hour and a half layover till the next train, another 2.5 hours, to Salamanca, all of this schlepping our own baggage.  This is not an unusual travel day for us.   About 8 hours total today.  These days are the reason we have learned to pack light!   

The weather has been warm, actually quite pleasant so far, but for the higher humidity than we are accustomed to, the kind that makes you sticky and warrants a second (or sometimes even a third) shower for the day.  We think Salamanca will be a little cooler at a higher elevation.

What a delight, this little village of Old Town Salamanca!  The kind of place we can cover completely on foot, just our style.  We wander the little streets and passageways to get acquainted.  Our favorite thing to do at any new destination.

It seems that they are known for their cured meats, particularly the Iberian pork loin, which is placed in these special holders in deli's and restaurants and stores waiting to be sliced paper thin upon ordering. 

 They are serious about their cured meats here.  After all, it used to mean surviving the winter ~ or not.  The family killed and cured two pigs each year, one in the spring, and one in the fall.  The meat had to last until the next season.  Hence the curing process.  And hence the art of slicing it so paper thin......

Each region seems to think theirs is the very best (like, the very best in the entire world kind of best).  Sort of reminds me of Italy and their cheese ~ you don't dare go from one region to another and ask for the last guy's cheese ~ no bigger insult!   I think it's the same here for the Iberian pork.  

You can see here that it  is priced anywhere from 9,50 euro per kilo to 114,99 euro per kilo, depending on the quality.  Do you notice that the hoofs are still attached??


It is served every way imaginable here ~ 


It is present on assorted cured meat platters at breakfast; it appears at lunch time as thin sliced layers with some cheese on small loaves of bread as a sandwich; and thin shavings on top of salad at dinner.

Oh, and did I mention it's delicious!

The famed 18th century Baroque Plaza Mayor is charming, as promised.  It has been referred to as “The most beautiful Square in Spain”.   I can’t say I disagree, although we still have allot of Spain to see.   At one time bullfights were held here, it reminded me of the horse races held in Sienna’s Square in Italy.  Now it’s full of cafe’s and activity, shops and shoppers abound.   It’s a great place to sip something and people-watch. It's also very beautiful (and romantic) when lit up at night.

We find the local Farmer’s market, good for a stroll and some photos, always an education on foods and local customs.  

  Some are familiar.

Some not so much. 

 I recognize the pig ears (top right); and I recognize the pigs feet (bottom right).  But in-between (middle-right) ~ is that what I think it is???  Anybody got a recipe handy???

We struggle a bit for dinner our first night, that’s a whole (pretty hilarious)  story in itself (see post entitled “Number 256”). 

We meet Robin on our hotel staff, a very nice young man from Holland, who is finishing his required foreign internship to complete his degree in Hotel Management, or Foreign Restaurants or some such thing. I should have made a note, as he referred to it as something different than what we would call it back home.  Hate losing those tidbits of info.

Next morning, after discovering how to order coffee in this neck of the woods, we head out to view the town’s ancient wonders. 

 From the bell towers of Scala Coeli Torres de la Clerecia ~ yes, of course we climbed to the top ~ see the guy in the red shirt up there???

 To the Puente Romano (Roman bridge), built in the 1st century AD

To the twin Cathedrals (Well, they're actually not twins at all ~ just Sisters.)  It's unusual for the old cathedral to not be torn down when a new one is built, but fortunately for history's sake this was not the case here.  Vieja is the smaller Romanesque  elder sister ~ above is the spectacular alter artwork panels that could have been lost to make way for the "progress" of the new Cathedral.

 And Nueva is the “new” 16th century younger sister.  
                                    She's quite a bit larger ~

And a lot loftier ~ 

To our final stop, the Iglesia-Convento de San Esteban (the Dominican monastery of Saint Stephen);  we have been enthralled and delighted with our time here. 
And so we conclude with “Dinner With Vincent” which is a great story, but too long for this blog, so ~ watch for the post by this name in the next few days.

All-in-all, we enjoyed this Renaissance town very much.  What a magical step back in time in Salamanca!  We loved it!


  1. Beautiful! Love the square, the pig stuff, not so much for this vegetarian but the farmers markets look stunning. Loving traveling with you!!

  2. Such a great post about the cathedrals, the city, the farmers market and the meat market! Great info about the travel day! Your photos are so good! Really enjoy the level of detail you share!


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