Monday, 3 March 2008

Salamanca dreamin

I´m now installed at the pilgrim hostel in Salamanca, a very fine and golden university city on Spain´s left side. It is nice to be in a city, nice to have a massive variety of CHOICE. That is what makes cities great.

(this pic. is the view up the street outside the hostel.)
I can choose from Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Asturian, Galician, Castilian, seafood, grilled meat, and Italian restaurants, or I can eat for almost nothing in the university cafeteria. There´s a church, convent, monastery, or cathedral around every corner. Most are 15th century confections of golden stone, and when the afternoon light hits these streets, you wonder why the men all went to South America looking for a city of gold when they had one right here already!

The hostel is the most lovely I have been part of. It opened just last year, but its location is tip-top, literally... it´s in an old monastery building tucked between the monster cathedral and a huge garden on the city wall. It looks over the sculptured plants and arbors down over the Rio Tormes and onto the plain beyond.
It even has a romantic Romeo & Juliet kind of legend attached! In the afternoons the garden fills up with Salamantinas and students and tourists. Kids from the music school sit outside the kitchen window and sing and play Flamenco guitars and box drums.

I am almost alone. Since Friday night I´ve had exactly four pilgrims, even though I have space for 20! They all have been very low-maintenance and friendly, and my German is getting a workout alongside my Spanish. A city cleaning crew comes in three mornings a week, so I am left without a whole lot of work to do. So I wander the city.

(this is Santi, a pilgrim dog, who stayed in "my" garden one evening.)
I hope my fellow hospitalero friends can volunteer here in the future. It´s the best! I am soaking up the solitude. I know now how much I´ve needed to get away from The Peaceable. It´s in Paddy´s capable hands. Even though he may have to choose the interior light fittings, which is terrifying! I´ve got to let it go. It is his house too.

So that´s where I am. It is nice to stay in someone else´s house for a while.


Anonymous said...

"sing and play Flamenco guitars and box drums." Somehow I have troubles picturing "salmantinos" singing and playing flamenco. This is one of those Spanish myths that for whatever reasons are associated with Spain. Reb, you´ll be surprised how many Spaniards disagree with this association. It would be like stating that American food is mostly Cajun.
Yes, Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Enjoy it , at least as much as I enjoy your blog.

Tino said...

Well, Tino... I don´t know where these young musicians grew up, but I know some of the songs from my collection of Paco de Lucia and Carmen Linares and Cameron de las Isla albums, so I assume they are flamenco!

Sometimes postcard myths are based on truth. This is really happening, right outside the window, in the heart of Salamanca. Honest to God.