Sunday, November 8, 2009


In keeping with my recent habits of telling you all about my adventures a week after they happen, tonight and sometime in the hopefully near future I will be recounting the trip to Salamanca, Ávila, and Segovia that I went on the last weekend (October 31 and November 1). The first day of the trip was dedicated entirely to Salamanca, although the first half of that day was actually getting there from Asturias (about 5 hours, with bathroom stops). When we arrived in Salamanca we dropped our stuff off at the hostel and then took the bus into town, because it was a bit far. We got dropped off near a park and headed to the Plaza Mayor, which is the center of town. In one of my classes we are reading the letters Cortez wrote during his conquest of Mexico, and when he was describing the main plaza of Tenochtitlan (the Aztec capital city) he mentioned that it was at least twice the size of the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, which the professor explained was thought at that time to be the largest square in Christendom. Also, Cortez studied at the University of Salamanca for a little while, so he would have had that as a frame of reference. Anyway, as you can see from the pictures, it wasn't the huge open space I was expecting for formerly being thought of as the largest in Christendom. I guess the rest of Christendom just had much smaller squares at the time.

Just of the bus, heading towards town. Salamanca has a much larger and more medieval looking old town than any other city we've been to so far

Foreigners in the Plaza Mayor, it probably would have looked bigger without all those stands selling books

Miguel and I in front of the Ayuntamiento

Colonnades around the edges of the Plaza Mayor

After a brief meeting we were given free time to go out and find lunch before a guided tour of the city, but since my two Mexican friends (Miguel y Victor) and I had brought our own sandwiches from home, we decided to set out and explore on our own. We ended up seeing most of the stuff that we would later visit on the guided tour, although we didn't necessarily know what we were looking at at the time. Although, since all of the guided visits are really just guided by the organizers from Oviedo reading stuff they have printed off the internet, they don't know that much more than the foreigners they are guiding. Anyway, on with the photo tour of Salamanca.

Picture from our wanderings, view of the (Old?) Cathedral down an old street

Former church, now a Pontifical University. Notice the Casa de las Conchas across from it

Artsy close-up of the Casa de las Conchas (shells), a former palace that is now a public library

The University of Salamanca, which is the oldest continuously operating university in Spain and one of the oldest in the world (founded in 1218). As I mentioned before, Hernan Cortez studied law here before leaving for the New World.

The main facade of the University of Salamanca. Legend has it that there is a frog hidden in the intricate stone-work and anyone who finds it will pass all of their exams. Unfortunately some of the souvenir shops in town have made this much easier by putting up pictures of the frog in which you can see it's general location and even selling little statues of it perched atop a skull, which is a major hint.

I found the frog! Suckers, looks like I don't need to go to class/study/do any more work this year! No but seriously, I considered not putting this up but I figure most of you reading this have already taken the last of your college exams, or will have by the time you ever make it to Salamanca. And you still might not find it in this close-up photo . . .

The New Cathedral of Salamanca, built in the 16th century. The Old Cathedral was built in the 12th century, but the two are connected, so it was hard for me to tell where one started and the other stopped.

Astronaut in the facade of the New Cathedral. No, the medieval Salamancans weren't prophets or time travels, this building was renovated/partially reconstructed in the 1970's

We got to take a tour through the back passages of the Cathedral(s) and their rooftops, so this is the view from one of the terraces looking away from town.

View of the New Cathedral and Old Cathdral (at the lower right) from the same terrace as before

Looking down on the altar of the New Cathedral from the catwalk

Hahaha that walkway was pretty narrow, the camera was against the wall for this photo. Also, look at my straight teeth Mom, I'm still wearing my retainers nightly!

View of the old town of Salamanca from another terrace

On the roof of Salamanca! That's the Pontifical University behind me

You may have noticed the long shadows in that last photo of me on the Cathdral terrace, at this point we headed back to the hostel to get ready for a night out on the town, a fixture of these AEGEE trips. The night wasn't much to write home about, we ate some kebab and went to a really crowded, overpriced bar, which I left early (at 2:30!) to go to bed since we had another full day of traveling ahead of us. Anyway, on the way back we walked across this old bridge which gave us a cool view of the town, it was a popular photo spot.

Pretty Spanish sunset. On to Ávila and Segovia tomorrow!


  1. Hey Patrick, Certainly enjoyed the blog for the 9th. You do a great job of mixing the history with what you are seeing. Keep up the good work. It will be a wonderful remembrance when you finish the trip. Love, your cousin at the beach...Karen

  2. Great pictures, Patrick! Who taught you how to shoot photos--not your dad, surely? just kidding! Enjoyed reading this, you are great at description and I love the history stuff! Shame, though, that your guides didn't know much more than what they got off the internet--I would find that rather disappointing. Keep soaking in as much as you can.

  3. heyy whats up?? looks like you are keeping busy. your pictures look awesome. i still cant believe you are actually living there and doing all that suff, im really impressed. anyway, i was gonna send you a package or something soon but you need to let me know what you want, anything that you miss from america that you cant get there? food? anything? also.. have you been working out since you've been there? you look bigger in your pictures than you did when you left, maybe its just because you are towering over all those little spaniards.. oh well. write me an email or something sometime, unless you are too busy out exploring old castles and caves.

  4. Hey Patrick
    Thanks so much for letting us share in your Spanish adventures!! I enjoy your comments as much as the pictures. Miss you

  5. Hi Patrick,
    I've been looking for the frog for the last 15 minutes! Your blog is great, you look great and I know you're enjoying every day.
    Love you,
    ~Aunt Mary Ann