Salamanca, Spain

We woke up at the crack of daylight to catch our train to Salamanca.
It felt bittersweet that we couldn’t spend one more day in Seville, because I loved it! But I knew Salamanca would have some great things to see and explore too so I was excited to get there, especially because it was our last city in Spain before we headed to Portugal!
I think I slept the entire train ride, and then groggily followed Heather and Jess into the train station.
Originally we were only supposed to spend the day in Salamanca, and take a train late that night to Porto, Portugal. However, we got mixed up with the dates and realized our night train wasn’t until the next night. So we quickly utilized the Airbnbapp on my phone and booked an amazing little apartment a few blocks behind the train station.
We mapped our way to walk there, and as we left the train station noticed a pretty cool statue out front depicting a crusader knight riding a unicorn, also carrying a small dragon. It seemed super random, but I loved it!
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Our Airbnb apartment was incredible!
Heather and Jess had their own bedroom with a Queen bed, and I did too! Plus there was even a third bedroom, a very nice front sitting room, and a full kitchen with a partially stocked pantry and fridge. We definitely scored with this one!
We were feeling pretty weary from the early morning, and since we had two whole days there, we decided it was in our best interest if we took a nice long siesta. Honestly, it was the best choice we could have made! After feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, we all put on a few extra layers and headed out to explore.

Plaza Mayor

Our main goal that evening was to find somewhere amazing to eat, and to see the Plaza Mayor, which apparently was only about a 15 minute walk from where we were staying.
On our way, we made several stops which all seemed to be churches. If there’s one thing not lacking in Spain, it’s definitely chapels and churches!
Finally, we found the Plaza Mayor, which is considered the heart of Salamanca. Heather had been excited to see it, and was a little disappointed that we couldn’t see it in all its’ glory because there was some sort of stage being set up in the center for an event the next day.
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Have you seen the movie Vantage Point? It was filmed here! 
However, it was still very impressive to see! Especially all lit up at night. There was even an adorable group of school girls from Scotland who we talked to briefly. They were there on a school trip… talk about a super cool school trip! (I think the coolest ones I went on were to Toronto, New Orleans, and Orlando!)
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Loved the vibe of all the lit up buildings 
We eventually decided we wanted Italian food for dinner, and after some wanderings we found Restaurante A’Tarantella(which does not translate to tarantula as we first thought. It’s actually a dance from southern Italy).
Although we were 3 of the 5 customers in the restaurant, it took over an hour to get our food. We hoped this meant they were literally making our food from scratch. So when our food did arrive we ravenously ate everything. All the carbs!!
Our favorite dish by far was the gnocchi, which was bathed in this cheesy sauce that must have been poured down straight from the heavens. Literally, I could have taken a bath in it. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten, and I will dream about it forever.
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After dinner we moseyed on back to our place, and fell into a carb induced coma.

Old Vs New

We had a long, full day ahead of us. Our host at our Airbnb was soooo accommodating and was allowing us to stay until 11 pm with our stuff, instead of having to check out at 3 pm and carrying everything with us.
So, with that in mind we started out to explore more of Salamanca in the daylight.
We headed towards a main part of the city which had some tourist hot spots, centered around  the University of Salamanca. The campus itself was incredible, surrounding by narrow, stone streets and old buildings. I imagined attending school there would be such a different experience than mine in Utah.
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 Standing in the streets leading up to the University of Salamanca, which you can see the tall tower in the background 
Of course we saw many, many churches too, including the old and new Cathedrals of Salamanca. The newer part was built attached to the older one, which it’s really amazing that they decided to not tear down the old one, and preserve it as history.
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The Old Cathedralwas originally built in the 12th century, and seeing the tombs and chapel rooms was incredible. Thinking that people so long ago were in there worshiping and praying was a pretty humbling thought. Although there were some particularly spooky looking carved people in the sides of some of the walls that I couldn’t even take pics of because they would haunt me forever!
The New Cathedralwas built between the 16th and 18th centuries, with Gothic and Baroque influences. It was beautiful! It reminded me slightly of the cathedral we had seen in Seville.
We wandered around with headphone audio tours, and listened to facts about each section of the cathedral. I was particularly moved by one section, which gave a quote from Blessed John Paul II on November 1, 1982 (and mind you, these are notes I quickly tried to type on a note in my phone so they are not completely accurate or complete, but gives you the general idea!):
“I ask you to widen the soul and not to shy away from your desires… open yourselves up to the future, and risk yourselves. Don’t stop until you’ve reached the source of life, come what may, whatever happens, whoever whispers, even if you die on the road to get there. At least in the end you made the effort to get there, and you’ll remain steadfast in that place that gives you life, even if the entire world sinks below it.”
Now of course, Blessed John Paul II is referring to Jesus Christ as the source of life, which He is my main source of life too, but the beauty of this quote, I think, is that it can also apply to anything in your life. Drive yourself towards whatever it is that makes you feel alive… it’s so deep guys! I love it!
We wandered back through the streets around the cathedrals, and stumbled into a funny Halloween party with the faculty of the University. It made me happy that they were all dressed, some in pretty impressive group costumes, for the holiday. We also perused some gift shops, and of course ate gelato (because gelato was my life on this trip!)

Riding on the Crazy Train

The rest of the afternoon we walked and explored most of Salamanca. We decided to head back to the Airbnb, with some groceries to make dinner, and hang out until we had to go catch our night train to Portugal!
We made some delicious spaghetti (although nothing will ever again compare to that gnocchi from the previous night!) and then we took a siesta for a few hours.
Our train left at 11 PM from the train station, and it was a sleeper train which I was excited to ride on. Little did we know the adventure that was in store!
Our tickets mentioned that the cars were separated by sex, which we thought was odd. Would they seriously split up a husband and wife?? Well the answer was yes, yes they would.
When we got to the train to board, the conductor instructed Heather and I to enter one car, and pointed down to the next car for Jess.
So, Heather and I entered our car and the two girl already in there seemed more than unhappy with our appearance. Not wanting to really disturb them, we shoved our bags under the bunk beds hanging from the walls, and climbed into our beds.
I took the top, and I regretted not taking something to sleep; because I didn’t sleep at all. The train moved a ton (because that’s what trains do) and the room was so hot, especially being on the top bunk!
However, it was an adventure, and despite not sleeping I was still grateful to have had it and to now be in Porto, Portugal!!
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