Our first stop on the trip was Salamanca, the city of perpetual youth. It’s renowned for its vibrant night life and its university, the oldest throughout all of Spain. We happened to visit Salamanca during the time the city transforms from the normal to the fantastical: Carnival. Carnival is, to put it simply, Halloween for adults. Everyone from sixteen to sixty clothes themselves in costumes and goes to the bars and streets. We saw superheroes, sexy cats, clowns and the like.
One of the main attractions of Salamanca is the incredible plaza. The plaza was overflowing with people eating, drinking, lying in the sun and hanging out together. I’m still adjusting to seeing so many people out and about, compared to the United States where it’s car to ‘casa’ (home in Spanish).
Even though we were extremely tired, two of my friends (Emily and Rachel) and I decided to stay later and walk around Salamanca at night. We took part in our very first solo tapas experience; we tried octopus for the first time (surprisingly really good), delicious mushroom tarts, egg salad, tortilla española with meat, sheep cheese and more. Afterwards we wandered through the streets, where we made the acquaintance of one incredibly friendly Golden Retriever (Aries) and her owner.
I will never cease to be amazed by the openness of Spaniards. In the thirty minutes that we knew this woman, she told us about the death of her mom, the departure of her dad, her adoption, her marriage and her two dogs and one cat. I was simultaneously fascinated and overwhelmed. My first thought was “Who is this woman and why is she jabbering on about a novel’s worth of material?” However, my initial American spikiness eased into enchantment at the novel idea of a person discussing her life without motive or fear. After a couple more hours around the city, we headed back to our hotel, and left early the next morning for a whirlwind tour through Mérida and then on to our next big city: Seville.