Saturday 18 July 2015

Salamanca: Taking the plunge


 By June 2015 the first two parts of my year abroad were complete. I had spent seven months as an English Assistant in Perpignan, France, and then done a two-week intensive French language and culture course in Antibes

 Now the third and probably final segment was to begin: my nine weeks at the University of Salamanca, Spain, where I would study Spanish language, history and art. 

 I chose Salamanca because, on a practical level, I wanted somewhere reasonably north to avoid the worst of the summer heat plus they had the kind of accommodation I was looking for. 

 On a more romantic note there is of course the ancient university, the two cathedrals, palaces, monasteries and convents and a never-ending supply of stories and legends including that of the famous Frog (hence the title of this blog post).

 I set off at the end of June from Liverpool Airport. The flight wasn't too bad; I read all the way. We touched down in Madrid where the trouble began. 

 I had intended to take a bus from Madrid Airport right into Salamanca but it hadn't let me book it online so I had to hope there would be places left. There weren't. I resorted to Plan B, and got the shuttle bus into Madrid to get the train to Salamanca. 

 The bus stopped at Madrid Atocha Station. I entered. It was huge and rather intimidating, a labyrinth of endless escalators. However, it did have the advantage of having large numbers of terrapins chilling in a tropical pool in the middle, which was different and sweet.
 I stood patiently in line to get a ticket to Salamanca only to be told what I had begun to suspect from the lack of Salamanca on the departures boards: it was the wrong station.

 I took an underground train to Chamartín Station where again I queued for a long time before finally getting my ticket. I was at last able to relax a little bit. The train arrived and I boarded. It would be two and a half hours before I would reach Salamanca. 

 I read and listened to music but still got very bored and tired. Towards the end of the journey I began to feel really unwell from being in the small, airless compartment and it was a blessing to arrive and hop out of the train into the cool night.

 I got a taxi to my accommodation and was welcomed to Salamanca by the beautiful sight of the Gothic cathedral all lit up, like the cathedral and basilica in Girona, silver-white against the black night.

 I had set out early in the morning and it was now nearly midnight. I was exhausted. But I had made it. I was in Salamanca! My adventure was about to begin...

 Thanks for reading.

 Happy birthday, Noah!

 Liz x 

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