You can take the girl out of Salamanca … or not

Always a Salamanca girl

Always a Salamanca girl

It’s been more than two weeks since I started living and interning in Valladolid, Spain. I know the city well enough to run by myself now and to be independent here. I can also understand almost everything that people say to me in Spanish, though it’s still difficult for me to find the words to respond sometimes. Overall, I’m feeling very comfortable and happy in Spain! My host family is so wonderful and supportive of everything I do. They’ve taken me on many weekend adventures to show me around Spain. Since I’m from Salamanca, NY, we absolutely had to go to Salamanca, Spain!

Every time I tell people in Spain that I’m from a city called Salamanca, they either laugh about the different pronunciations or tell me that I MUST go to Salamanca, Spain. Salamanca is only about an hour from Valladolid, so of course I had to visit! This Salamanca is much different than the Salamanca that I know.

The Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor

When we first arrived to Salamanca, the Plaza Mayor was completely full of people. There’s tons of tourists and students from all over the world, so Salamanca is much more crowded than Valladolid. There was a band playing on a big stage in the Plaza Mayor, so it was even more packed than usual. I managed to take a picture of part of the Plaza Mayor after some people had cleared out, but I wish I had taken one while it was full of hundreds of people. The Plaza Mayor is more beautiful at night, as lights shine on the old buildings.

Salamanca is absolutely beautiful due to the gothic and baroque architecture. My favorite part of Salamanca was visiting the University of Salamanca, because it’s one of the most intricately designed buildings I’ve seen. There are countless carvings in the ancient stone of the university. There’s religious carvings, gargoyles, and detailed designs. Each carving was created with significance, and I can’t even imagine the skill it must have taken to create such detailed work by hand.

The carved wall of the University of Salamanca

The carved wall of the University of Salamanca

Can you find the frog?

Can you find the frog?

There are also legends surrounding the University of Salamanca. There is a legend that if a student can find the carving of a frog on the wall of the university, then he or she will ace every exam. After about 10 minutes of staring at the wall, I was able to find the lucky frog. It’s well hidden as it sits on another carving of a  human skull. Let’s hope the legend is true so I’ll never have to stress about an exam again!

A city to be endlessly explored

A city to be endlessly explored

There are too many amazing sites in Salamanca to even attempt to completely explain. Everyone that visits needs to make a stop at the Casa de las Conchas, explore the impressive libraries, and cross the Roman bridge. Another must see is the Cathedral, which is also adorned with crazy carvings. I managed to find an astronaut, a demon eating an ice cream cone, and a gargoyle holding a camera. Salamanca mixes ancient art and culture with modern, whimsical details.

I guess you can’t really take the girl out of Salamanca, even if the cities are continents apart.

About the author

Haylei John

¡Hola! My name is Haylei John, and I’ll be sharing my experiences in Valladolid, Spain with you through my blogs. I’m an International Studies and Spanish major at St. Bonaventure University from Salamanca, New York. I’ll be spending five weeks in Spain for an internship at the International Immersion Institute, where I’ll be teaching English. I’m excited to be immersed in the Spanish culture—especially through eating muchas tapas and drinking plenty of café con leche!