Category Archives: Salamanca, Spain

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


On to Salamanca, Spain

We fell in love with Salamanca ten years ago when I went to extensive Spanish school for three months after walking the Camino de Santiago.  Bill said he would learn more Spanish in the bars while I was in school. Game on.  I’m sure you could figure out who the winner was in that challenge.

Actually what happened was Bill learned every square inch of the old part of town and beyond – walking while I traumatized my brain.  On weekends he would take me on field trips to show me what he had discovered.

*click photos to enlarge

Outside the old city…

What’s scary is how much our memories have deteriorated in 10 years.  We eventually found almost all of our favorite spots but it took an effort.  Sadly a lot of businesses have closed – perhaps victims of COVID lockdowns.

This time we rented an apartment on Plaza Mayor with a balcony that allowed front row seats to people watching and three concerts.

We took this time to wind down after hotel stays and a whirlwind tour the past couple plus months.  Now shifting to the Spaniard clock – sleeping in and staying up late.  Tapas and a caña (beer)/wine for lunch, snack time, dinner…. any time, all the time.

Point of clarification – We got on the old person’s clock.  The young stay up partying all night long.  There is never an hour period of time throughout the night and early morning where you don’t hear them.  When we left at 6:30 am to catch a cab to the train the taxi stand was full of drunk party goers waiting for a ride home.

Mid-week we were awakened by super loud partiers in our building. The building is 4 stories with one unit on each floor – ours the 3rd. Their voices reverberated off the walls in the narrow stairwell.  It sounded like they were right outside our door until they were inside our apartment!  They used a key to enter.  Our bedroom was near the door.  Bill popped up and grabbed a pillow to hide his private parts and exited our door and met them in the hallway where he said in his best English “leave”.  They hightailed it out of there without a rebuttal.  They partied for another half or so and then settled down.

I messaged our landlord who tried to convince me that it was impossible since they didn’t have a key and the only way to access is with one!  Can you imagine?  Later he confessed they must have had a master key.

Salamanca is stunning with old, towering and ornate sandstone buildings.  It drips history, with Roman, Muslim and royal periods.  The majority of historic buildings were created by the Catholic Church.

The “old city” is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the oldest university in Spain sits smack dab in the middle of it.  Columbus studied celestial navigation here prior to sailing for the New World.

In the afternoon some group is celebrating something almost every day with parades, artistic displays or some sort of organized party.  It makes me smile to see people living life with a happy purpose.

Storks must be the Salamanca’s mascot.  They sit proudly in their huge nests at the tops of churches.  The largest gathering was eight.  They have a strange clucking call and their vast wingspan shadows the sun when they circle.  It appears that they deliver lots of babies.

The central market has many stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, piglets, chicken, etc.  You can shop daily. So wish we had something like this in the USA.

The week went by quickly and with a bit of sadness we left for the next town…

Oh – by the way – Bill is now snapping a photo here and there!

Winding down…


Our time in Salamanca is coming to an end. We leave in five days.

Spanish classes have run the gamut. The amount of information that has been crammed into this tiny old brain of mine is hard to fathom.

In keeping with the whole “student” experience – last week I succumbed to the sickness being passed around the school – right down to losing my voice and making conversation class impossible. I didn’t want to be selfish so shared with Bill – one week later and we are both sick.

It is cold, cold, cold. On certain days the fog rolls in and clings to the antiquated buildings, making the town feel ominous. We long for our fireplace…

Bill walks 3 – 5 hours a day. He has learned the landscape of Salamanca hither and yon.

He starts near the Plaza Mayor where we have fallen in love with the formally appareled Spaniards, dressed every day, all day in their Sunday best. The woman are complete with full length fur coats, hair coiffed and make-up worn with precision – age not a deterrent. Husbands and wives walk arm in arm. Infants are bundled in their prams and children frocked as if they were heirs to the throne – a throwback to a bygone era.

He heads away from the scene in the snow globe toward the other parts of Salamanca, down winding paths along the river – home to a cat lady and her 20 plus felines, a homeless camp with a man huddled next to a fire to keep himself warm and families strolling with their dogs.

We had a fun and welcome break two weekends ago when Mark and Jonel came to visit. We indulged – libations, pastries, food, pastries, sight seeing, pastries and cards – fun times!







































Indian Summer in Salamanca


A classic Sunday breakfast – blueberry pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup – thanks to the American store that opened around the corner. One would have thought we bought caviar considering the price but Ohhhh was it worth it!

We took a nice long walk on this glorious fall day. Grass is still green but the trees are changing and there’s a chill in the air.








Whirlwind 2 weeks


I just finished my second week of Spanish classes. Odd how going to school can make me feel stupid….

Immersion school consists of 3 classes per day starting at 9am and ending at 2pm (subject to change).

The people in the class can change every Monday.

My class currently consists of a 19 year old named Lukas from Germany who spends most of the class playing on his cell phone. A 28 year old Afghani, Farhad, raised 70% of his life in London and has traveled to 130 countries. A 44 year old Korean lady who goes by the name June. Her 2 sons have been in school here for the past 2+ years – an escape from the rigors of Korean schooling. A 22 year old Chinese gal who goes by the name Emma (her real name sounds like Ciao). She arrived last week and will study until July (makes my gringa accent sound pretty good). Her parents sent her to the US when she was 16 to study English. Lastly, Fred a 40 something guy from Scotland who took 3 months to ride his motorcycle here. The first week’s class had a 31 year old Brazilian named Anderson who has since gone home. Potluck – wonder who will be here on Monday?

Lukas, Fred, Emma and I are all for the long haul. I think Fred will pass us up…

Last friday night Bill and I joined 16 of the students for “Rua de Tapas” – bar hopping and all it’s glory. We watched schoolmates try and master the parrón. It was like watching the water gun carnival game – the person with the most dexterity walks away with the prize – an unstained shirt. The “adultos mayor” commented about doing the same with bota bags.

Last weekend my mother and stepfather came to visit for 2 nights. My sister and her husband just left after being here 2 nights.

Now we will settle into some sort of routine…

The days are warm and the nights are cold. Trees are just starting to change. The parks are stunning – the flowers and green grass on their last hurrah. The night time landscape is changing too. Gone are the copious amounts of people packing the streets eating dinner until wee hours in the morning. Just a few thick skinned diners frequent the terrazzas. After a warm afternoon bike ride last night proved to be too cold for our outside dining experience – the layers of clothing did not help against the cool breeze – we longed for a fireplace to warm our chilled bodies opting for a Drambue night cap and arroz con leche.



The start of a new chapter


I started intensive Spanish school today – 5 hours a day – 5 days a week. Bill said the total hours are equivalent to 7.5 semesters of school.

Bill also walked me to school and took my photo – I felt like I was 5 years old again. He also picked me up for lunch and gave me permission to walk home allllll by myself!

The accent is Spain is difficult to understand – they talk with a lisp. Poco a poco.

We walked 1.2 miles (our feet still hurt) to the grande Carrefour store (similar to a Walmart with food) with the intention of taking a taxi back home with all of our treasures. The taxi stand was empty and we left our new Spanish cell phones home because we were together – who else would we call??

The man at the lottery booth instructed me to go back into the store and use the pay phone to call a taxi.

After several unsuccessful attempts I asked the security guard for help. It’s been about 19 years since I used a pay phone – in Spanish no less. I was happy to find out that the pay phone was broken and not operator error. The security guard kindly called us a taxi.

Our new home


It rained again last night – so it was dark and eerie when we left Santiago de Compostela this morning. Our 4 hour train to Medina (where we would catch our connection to Salamanca) turned into a 5 1/2 ride making us miss our connection. The ticket master was as pleasant as could be and asked us to wait. 5 minutes later taxi showed up and drove us to Salamanca – a one hour drive at no charge. We were shocked – thought we’d just catch the next train!

We are now unpacked in our comfy apartment – so excited to see our jeans, clogs and a extra shirt! After wearing the same 2 outfits for the past 40 days we got excited to see just another change of clothes.

After 5 months we are looking forward to not living out of a backpack for the next 3 months. Well… not exactly 3 full months – we’ll be exploring Portugal and other parts of Spain on the weekends.