Tag Archives: Salamanca

Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino

May 15 – Today marks the halfway point of our stay in Spain, and we are roughly halfway through our Camino, so we are on track to reach Santiago on time.  Our guidebook warned us that there were no yellow arrows or Camino markers to guide us out of Salamanca, so this morning we just walked north.  Nine miles planned for today.

We left the city and walked along the good old N630 with traffic whizzing by until the path took us off onto a farm road that paralleled the highway.  Much nicer walking on dirt, especially with wild flowers growing on either side.  We saw three other hikers in the morning, plus several bikers.

The farm track was pretty featureless.  You can tell that we’re bored when we start taking pictures of each other!

Jim has been watching big black ants scurry across our path, doing whatever it is that ants do.  Today seemed like a good day to stop and take a video of their activity.  I’m sure the video will show up on his blog at beinghersite.wordpress.com

The little village of Calzada looks dusty and worn.  The town square is just that – an empty square.  We are staying in a tiny room above the bar.  They did a surprisingly good menu del dia, with paella and a nice thick hake steak.  298 miles to go.

May 16 –  We went down to the bar this morning looking for coffee, but it was locked up tight.  We know there are no other towns between here and tonight’s destination.  I guess we’re going to learn what a hike without coffee feels like!  

13 miles today to get to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino. Wonder how a town gets a name like Cube of Wine? We had some farm walking in the early morning, til the sign indicated we should go back to the highway.  

Luckily, there was only a little road walking – most of the way was a dirt track next to the highway.  By 11am, I was sure missing my morning coffee.  The sun was beating down and there was not a tree in sight, so wet put up our sun umbrellas.  So glad we have them!

The tiny town of El Cubo is supposed to have two alburgues.  We walked past the first one, as the reviews said the second was better.  When we got to the F and M alburgue, the lady said she did not have our email requesting a reservation, but she could give us two bunk beds in a dorm.  That was the first bad news.  We said we’d walk back to the other alburgue and try there, but she said it was closed for non-payment of taxes (or something to that effect).  Not really sure if this was true.  Then she informed us that one of the two bathrooms was out of order.  That was the second bad news.  This was supposed to be an 8 bed alburgue: we counted 16 beds.  Person to bathroom ratio – not good.

We went to the bar down the street and got a pretty good menu del dia.  A German woman was trying to order something vegetarian.  No meat, she told the waiter.  Okay, fish, he replied.  No fish either, said the lady.  He went down his list of entrees: meat, meat, meat, fish fish, fish.  No other options.  Jim suggested she ask for fried eggs, if that would be acceptable.  She agreed that it was probably the best she could do.  Jim saves the day!

After our meal, we walked down the street and sat on a park bench.  It was full of sticky, tarry stuff that got all over our pants and our hands.  That was the third bad news.  We went back to the alburgue to do laundry and try and wash the tar out.  You know that didn’t work.  I’m going to stop writing now, before anything else happens.

285 miles to go.

Another Day in Salamanca 

May 14 – Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom and to all mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law, stepmoms, godmoms, aunts, teachers, nurses, and anyone who has ever loved a child.❤️❤️❤️

Here’s another Salamanca story.  This city hosts the largest number of University students in Spain.  When a newbie comes to Salamanca for their first year, they are told that they must find the frog on the skull, or they will not pass their exams.  Like any freshman challenge, upperclassmen will not help them find the frog.  It took us a while, but we found it – the crowd of gaping, pointing tourists may have helped.  Can you see it above the door of the university?

How about now?

See it?  Good!  You will pass your exams!

We walked south this morning to see the old Roman Bridge.  It’s very quiet on Sunday morning, but we see policemen and military vehicles lining the roadway.  What’s up?  I’m wondering if there’s some sort of news event about to happen, when a policeman on a bicycle rides by, shouting the Spanish equivalent of, “Move over!  Out of the way!”  And then came:

Marathon runners!  Hundreds of them! After a few dozen came a man on a bike with a sign that read 1st Mujer (Woman).  Soon came the 2nd:

Do they announce the women in US races too?  The 3rd Mujer also got a sign, but the rest just ran with the pack. It was a beautiful morning for the race – dry and cool.  We walked against the tide to admire the Roman Bridge, which held up well under a thousand pounding feet.

After the race passed by, we admired the reflection of the Cathedrals in the Rio Duero.

…and admired the river itself.

We strolled down to the Convento de San Esteban:

…where St. Stephen is eternally stoned:

…and stoned again:

Interesting stone mosaic floors:

The cloisters around the courtyard:

The worship space is huge:

…with 118 seats for the choir:

…and my favorite part, the misericordia, or mercy seats, that give the choir members a place to rest their butts while appearing to be standing:

Back at the Plaza Mayor, the book sale was still going on:

…while the tourists drank coffee

…and an orchestra entertained the crowds:

There is one more thing you have to look for in the stonework of Salamanca.  A little rabbit – rub it for good luck!

Tomorrow we are back on the road.  308 miles to go.

A Day in Salamanca 

May 13 – No rain today!  After our yogurt and strawberries breakfast, we set out for the old city to see the sights.  It’s still cold, and we are wearing all our layers of clothes.

Salamanca has two cathedrals side by side – the Catedral Vieja (old) built in the twelfth century, and the Catedral Nueva built in the 1500 – 1700s (not really all that new).  They are connected inside.  Here is a funny story.  The Cathedrals sustained a lot of earthquake damage, and were being repaired in the 1990s.  A stone mason got permission to add some modern touches to the decorations surrounding the door. 

So now crowds huddle around the big red door, looking for the astronaut:

…and the gargoyle eating an ice cream cone:

The astronaut has spawned all manner of internet fake news about ancient aliens visiting Spain in the Middle Ages – there is even an entry about it on Snopes.com.

We toured the new Cathedral first.  Why is it that sculptors have no trouble with Mary, but have such a hard time with Jesus?

This is the crucifix believed to belong to El Cid:

The Golden Chapel, containing a famous image of Death:

And some frescoes that were discovered when the walls were being cleaned:

In the Old Cathedral, there is a famous painting of Jesus separating the good from the wicked on Judgement Day (evidently the wicked don’t get to keep their clothes), atop a huge golden altarpiece showing 53 scenes of the life of Christ:

Lots of the rich and famous are buried in the cathedral.  I like the image of dying with a book in my hands.

Famous statue of the Virgin Mary of the See – she is curvy and natural, while little Jesus is stilted and stiff:

…and the Virgin of the Milk:

This is the Adoration of the Magi – I am amused by the expression on the baby Jesus face (Myrrh?  Really?):

Then we climbed the Ieronimus Tower for a view of the city:

To be continued…

Baños de Montemayor to….. Salamanca!

May 11 – So, last night as we were planning our way forward, I noted that we had three more days of rain ahead of us, and two more days of highway walking (blech and double blech).  The third day was looking like an 18 miler with no place to stop midway.  The 18 mile day was off-road, which made getting a ride or taxi a challenge. What are the chances of finding another lady with a 4×4? All of which made me start looking at bus schedules.  It turns out that the town we are in right now is the very last town with a bus station before we reach the city of Salamanca (4 or 5 walking days away).  The bus station is two minutes from our hostal.  The bus runs twice a day.  We went to sleep on the possibility.

This morning we looked out the window at the gray skies and puddles, and dear sweet Jim said, “Let’s go to Salamanca!”  He booked our bus tickets online and found us a hostal near the Old City.  At 9:45 we were on the bus, looking at all the blue Camino signs rolling by along the highway.  By 11:15 we were in Salamanca.  10 minutes later we were at Hostal Granada, run by a very personable young man with good English.  Our room is lovely.  There is a real supermarket down the block.  My feet are happy, and so is the rest of me.  Time for some R and R.

We did a brief walkabout of the old city.  This is a University city, full of young people and bookstores.  It is the most important university in Spain, attracting thousands of international students.  Most of the buildings are brown.

The Plaza Mayor, the huge main square, was hosting a book sale, so there were bookstalls set up all around.  For some reason, there is a huge statue of an upside down elephant here.  Wait til I tell Emma – she loves elephants!

We saw the Casa de los Conches, decorated with Camino shells.  It is used as a library, and has a shell lamp inside.

We didn’t stay out long in the rain.

May 12 – Jim has been struggling for a while with a boot that is coming apart.  He superglued it as a temporary fix, but he needs new boots.  We tried to get him a pair in Cáceres, but the big sporting goods store there only stocked up to size 46, and he is a 48 or 49 depending on the brand (US size 13, wide).  There is a big store here in Salamanca called Decathalon.  It’s about a 2.5 mile walk from our hostal. It’s not raining too hard, so we set out to find it.  We crossed a river.

It was indeed a huge store, and they had exactly one pair of boots in size 48.  Jim said they felt a little narrow, but felt he had no options at this point, so he bought them.  On the way home we passed the University of Happiness.

It’s still cold and rainy, so after our menu del dia we went back to our hotel to chill.  Sightseeing tomorrow!