For me, Salamanca is a city of great extremes. Intense heat and bone chilling cold. Polished intellectuals and laid back Bohemians. Extreme joy and happiness mixed with rigidity and formality. Passionate love and melancholy.
Salamanca is also home to the oldest University in Spain which was founded in 1218. The stone facades and walls of the city are covered with the names of students painted with a mixture of bull’s blood and oil; a permanent sign of the intense connection between the erudition and the deep Castilian traditions. There are so many monuments to see in Salamanca that I often find myself overwhelmed and prefer to enjoy the culture of the street life and the most beautiful Plaza Mayor in the country.
Last summer however, when I was in Salamanca with my dear friends Val and Melissa I visited the Casa Lis, which houses the Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. After wandering through the beautiful museum we discovered the outdoor cafe and I sat down and contemplated the Rio Tormes over a nice glass of Cava. That morning we had visited the garden that is dedicated to the amorous meetings of the two main characters in the novel, La Celestina. Calixto and Melibea were their names. The garden is now filled with padlocks and paintings that profess the eternal love of many modern couples. Next to the garden you can also see the shelter for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Salamanca is on the Via de la Plata, the Path of St. James that makes its way from Sevilla to Santiago de Compostela. Thoughts of the Camino and the sight of pilgrims always makes me nostalgic, a good reason for another glass of Cava.