Salamanca was a friendly city but not quite what we expected. Unfortunately, the cathedrals were not open to tourists when we arrived. The renaissance architecture was beautiful, but modern ugliness was apparent everywhere: there seemed to very few places, unlike Segovia or Toledo, where you could get completely lost in another time.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed our short stay. We visited the city’s contemporary art gallery and examined a poignant exhibition at a small museum devoted to the Civil War. The Plaza Mayor has beautiful proportions and classical buildings that make it, to my mind, one of the most visually pleasing public spaces in Europe.
We saw more signs of recession in Salamanca than anywhere else we visited, mostly in the form of protest posters and graffiti.
Our hotel was again excellent. Too tired to search for a restaurant, we found an excellent pizzeria right next door where I joked about soccer with our waiter, who plied me with free drinks. After dinner, we decided to take a walk to see the Plaza Mayor after dark. Damned if we didn’t get lost again in the confusing maze of streets.
My main disappointment with Salamanca is that we didn’t stop in Avila on the way. At about the half-way point of our bus trip from Segovia, I didn’t see anything to particularly recommend Avila when we arrived. But as we were leaving, we caught a spectacular view of a medieval hilltop town with its entire wall intact. When we return to Spain, I’ll want to make a return visit.