Life from Salamanca - Week 1 Impressions, Stories, and Thoughts

Santiago David
January 27, 2019

As I awaited my flight from Chicago to Madrid I began to feel that I had conquered a month of cold and snow. What would await me would be warm days with sun that I could endlessly enjoy for the next semester. However, that was not quite the case.

Turns out, Salamanca is actually pretty darn cold during the winter months – which really shouldn’t be a surprise but it was. This is felt the most in the mornings as one walks about 20 minutes away to class in brisk 27-degree weather.

On this walk you encounter the next interesting note. While you are bundled up, looking like the Michelin Man’s long lost cousin, you start to take notice that no one else seems to mind the weather. While you do see winter coats, common fashion also includes skirts, jackets, and sweaters that seemingly flood the streets next to you. However, not to worry! One adapts rather quickly. And, a week in, I can now say that I have downsized somewhat successfully.

Another note: while online sources outline a distinct and certain fashion, walking around, you realize this is an extreme generalization. All different outfits and styles are seen, but with one thing in common – people look good.

Walking also provides other excitement. Salamanca is pretty much the definition of a pedestrian city if there ever was one. While there are still major roads and cars to fill them, walking seems to be the main form of transportation. Once away from the busiest streets, cars start to fade and people replace them. However, these are not ‘pedestrian only’ streets. A game of chicken typically ensues every once a while as a result – with the car typically winning. There is never really a fear of being run over, but it does seem out of place for the first few days. However, once again, you quickly acclimate to this.

Salamanca's Calle Toro Post-Rain


Salamanca by Day

I’ve already described it, but I don’t think I can stress how much one walks. On an average day you’ll easily walk anywhere from 7 to 14 miles. These numbers may seem intimidating but they’re actually not too bad. Typically, you’re walking with others or using the time to call family back home. On the off chance neither of these is true, Salamanca is such a historic town – for reference: la Universidad de Salamanca (USAL) turned 800-years-old this past year – with so many impressive views, allowing the walk to be enjoyable and awe-inspiring.

So how does one reach 14 miles walking in a day? In some ways, it's due to the food. Breakfast consists of toast and maybe a piece of fruit around 8:30 (or until 12:30 on Sundays as my host mom likes to say). Lunch is then around 2:30-3:00, consisting of probably bread, a starter soup or beans, a main course, and a fruit for dessert. At this time, most businesses close, and almost everyone goes home to eat with the family. Life picks up again after the meal with businesses and schools re-opening. From here on, people may be out and about until they return home for dinner around 9. The gaps between meals can be rough – especially when adjusting from the U.S. eating style – so tapas are a great way to stay happy.

As you can see, walking is unavoidable. But hey, it also means you can enjoy more food!

So how is it overall?

Well, my feet hurt. But it’s absolutely worth it. It’s easy to forget the history you walk by each day, but in the moments you remember you instantly appreciate where you are. I love the food, lifestyle, and people. Each day I learn more about the city, culture, and Spain as a whole. While it may not be the first place one thinks of in Spain, I highly recommend exploring it.

Salamanca Cathedral


Salamanca's Barrio del Oeste

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Santiago David

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:12.05pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">I am a Junior at Claremont McKenna College. Growing up, I moved from Colorado, to Mexico, to California, and ultimately to South Bend, Indiana. You can typically find me either hosting campfires and cooking s'mores with strangers or watching and playing sports. I am currently on a journey to seek and experience social discomfort. It's a pretty great time, so I hope that you will join me!</span></p>

2019 Spring
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Claremont McKenna College
South Bend, IN
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