Yes, Salamanca has some great sites that as a traveler I will visit, but that was not the goal of my first complete day here. When I get into any new town I like to get my bearings by wandering around the streets, and I did not do that the first evening I was in town. I had an important soccer match to watch. (I know I should call it futball because of where I am, but some habits die hard.) But it was a beautiful day to see what the city had to offer today.
I enjoy this activity a lot, and Salamanca is the perfect place to go out and stroll its streets. It is an old city filled with a tannish brown stone that makes every street I wandered down feel as if I was back in the twelfth century. But it also has little gems that the guide books do not like to highlight. There are numerous plazas, and shady spot to escape a hot summer’s day, and my camera went crazy trying to capture all of them.
There are also lots of cafes and restaurants all through the windy streets. It is not an officially a car free zone, but so few cars come down these streets that it gives it that pedestrian mall feel. The center of the city is ringed by a single busy road, and this is the heart of the tourist’s place. It houses the university, and Plaza Mayor, and it is big enough that you could easily spend a day exploring all of the crooks and crannies. In this way it reminds me a little of Venice. You can get a little lost wandering the streets and never get so lost that you will never find your way back to your hotel room. Any time you come to the major road that rings this area, you just dip back into the old streets and get lost some more.
This is when you can find the small little details that the city has to offer. There are enough carvings into the buildings or crazy models in shops that you will easily be entertained all day. And you do not have to do the usual tourist thing in Europe by visiting the cathedrals, or watching people at the major plazas. That does not mean that I still won’t do those things, but by doing Salamanca this way I felt like I was being a tourist on my own terms.
And by doing this I got to enjoy the city on a different level. I was able to watch the street performers and their unique style. I got to stop in a cafe to get a cafe con leche any time I felt a little thirsty or needed a boost of caffeine. I got to sit in the shade of the trees and laugh at the herds of tourists being led around by their tour guide. It wasn’t a busy day, and I can’t say I saw anything that was worthy of a guide book, but in a way I saw a whole lot more.