Goodbye everyone. I am officially packing my bags and moving to Spain.
In the past 12 hours, I have been given a small taste of what this vibrant country has to offer, and from the culture and gastronomy to the architecture and landscapes, I am honestly convinced that Spain needs to be my home right now.
Awaiting us today after an hour’s drive from Vega de Teron was the golden city of Salamanca. As we crossed the Spanish border, I was absolutely giddy at the chance to explore a new country, and practice some of the Spanish I studied for years in high school. What I ended up discovering was a brilliantly dynamic city, offering an incredible mix of old town charm and a youthful dynamism made possible by the city’s massive student population. Getting off the bus, it was impossible to ignore the golden glow of the city’s sandstone facades, gloriously lit up by the hot Spanish sun. Salamanca quickly captured my heart, and continued to do so for the rest of the day.
Our guided tour brought us to many of Salamanca’s major landmarks, including the city’s two cathedrals, the majestic Plaza Mayor, and of course, the oldest university in Spain, the University of Salamanca. Nestled alongside these impressive structures were public squares, gardens, and outdoor cafes, all of which came together to give the city an energetic sense of life.
What really captivated me most about Salamanca though was the myriad of small, curious details hidden within the city. The plateresque style observed throughout town is so ornate and ingrained with detail that you could spend hours picking at oddities embedded in each façade. For example, carved into the Cathedral is a floating astronaut and ice cream-eating dragon, silly modern additions to the Cathedral made during its 20th century restoration. Elsewhere in the city, a tiny frog carving hides in plain sight at the University of Salamanca, promising good fortune to those with eyes keen enough to spot it. These small details bring so much charm to the city, and give it a unique character that I couldn’t help but love.
After stopping for lunch in a local restaurant (where we sampled regional specialties like sliced ham, tortilla and stewed beef), we were given free reign to explore Salamanca on our own. I of course decided to take our guide’s advice and climb up the Cathedral’s bell tower, which looms 100m above the city. Rest points along the way (accompanied by historical information about the tower) made this an easy climb, one well worth the work, because at the end you’re treated to views like these:
And soon enough, after a whirlwind day in Spain, we boarded our coach, crossed time zones back to Portugal, and returned to the MS Vasco da Gama, where we were treated to ice-cold sangria and a Spanish feast of succulent seafood paella! Prepared with juicy prawns, fish, chicken, mussels and refreshing wedges of lemon, we got a giant platter for each table to share, along with serving staff eagerly dishing out extra helpings. I love when CroisiEurope incorporates regional specialties into the menu and digging into that delicious paella, I was in foodie heaven!
Our day of Spanish wonders concluded with an evening performance of classic Flamenco dance. As someone with no dancing ability whatsoever, I was absolutely dazzled by the quick pace of the dancers’ feet and their fierce energy. Not going to lie - I was getting tired just watching them. I guess that’s why I’m a blogger and not a dancer!
And so, after today’s fantastic taste of Spain, I am all the more excited for my next cruise along the Guadalquivir next week. Until then though, I intend to soak up every bit of wonder that Portugal has to offer… starting with some vineyard tours and tastings tomorrow!
Talk to you all soon.