We've embraced the 'Slow' philosophy as a way of life - what's the hurry?. Taking time to smell the roses (usually on a glass of Viognier) is more our style. Having spent more then 3 years on the road, slow travel has become a way of life. We have revised our plans completely and now focus on quality, not quantity, slowly.
We spent Semana Santa (holy week) in Salamanca.
Easter is a really big deal in Spain and nowhere more than this glorious city which
was brimming with Spanish tourists.
Built from golden
sandstone, Salamanca is simply stunning. Boasting magnificent buildings,
wonderful churches, a stupendous Plaza Mayor and an enormous gothic Cathedral
(do you love all my adjectives?). Such is the size of the Cathedral, it can be
seen from 20kms or more away. I wonder if you can see it from the moon???
Inside is filled with
soaring gothic columns reaching up to beautiful vaulted ceilings filled with
light from the lantern dome. We’ve seen so many wonderful churches and
cathedrals that we have stopped photographing most of them and I don’t usually
rave about them – bit this one is something to behold. The old Romanesque cathedral
(15th century) is adjoined and we did a wonderful rooftop tour that
took us from the new to the old including balconies allowing us to look down
into the naves of both.
Wonderful Cloister at San Estaban
Salamanca also boasts
wonderful tapas bars. Really delicious food spread out on the bars, proving
irresistible to hungry, thirsty tourists. One bar we had 6 tapas, 6 glasses of
wine for around 18 euros. Too hard to describe them but incredibly tasty bits
of goats cheese and of course black pudding!!!! (OK – I’m obsessed.)
They also love a good
parade and every day there was something happening. Purple pointy hats (KKK
style) on the first day, culminating on Easter Sunday with 3 processions coming
together at the cathedral. The people were out in their thousands and the bars
were heaving afterwards – great atmosphere.
The Virgin gets carted around the streets at every opportunity.
Easter Bonnet Parade
We hired a car again to do
some touring and did a side trip to Portugal – again. This time we headed to
Ciudad Rodrigo a lovely mediaeval town on the border. Our destination was
Guarda which we found to be completely uninspiring (we couldn’t even find a bar!),
and we carried on to pretty Trancoso. It was so cold that we didn’t feel like
wandering around the ruined castle and drove on.
With no real destination
in mind we stumbled upon Almeida, which was not only a wonderful walled town but
had a Pousada (similar to Parador in Spain – government run hotels, usually
located in convent, monasteries, castles etc). We booked in and spent a
rewarding couple of hours wandering around the star shaped walls (complete with
moat). The temperature seemed about 10 degrees higher and the rain had stopped
– very happy. Also managed a delicious dinner of goat with a few local vinos.
A plan showing the star shaped walls
Next day we drove home to Hilda via
the Sierra, but the whole area was cold and foggy and heaving
Our last side trip saw us
in the mediaeval town of Avila, east of Salamanca. Inside the imposing city
walls are tributes to Santa Teresa who founded the Barefoot Carmelites. I think
she would’ve hated all the hoo-ha surrounding her as her philosophy was the
simple life, getting back to basics, I mean she didn’t even own a pair of
The Walled City of Avila
We are now in Tordesillas
in the Ribera del Duero wine region and will attempt to do some tasting, but
wine tourism doesn’t seem to be big here. The town’s claim to fame is the
Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. The head honchos of Spain and Portugal got
together here and rather arrogantly divided up the new world between them.
Happily they hadn’t discovered Australia then or we’d be eating dinner at 11pm
and speaking with a lisp.
From here we’ll head to
Rioja Baja (a bit more wine tasting), then Pamplona and up through the Pyrenees
Sorry for the rather long
blog – seems we’ve been doing a lot!!
PS: Lawrence is cooking
Risotto ai Porcini tonight with my home-grown basil!!!
PPS: It’s been so cold
I’ve been wearing my puffy coat. In Spain. In Spring.
Lawrence supports Kate's Black Pudding addiction at the Salamanca Market