Arriving in Salamanca, Spain

Weekend 20/21 August 2016
Yes, I’m in Salamanca. Sleeping within earshot of two sets of church bells, in a very central area. The bells don’t ring through the night and, anyway, their noise is beautiful, mellow and it doesn’t intrude. In fact, I forgot where I was the first time and tried to locate a chiming clock in the apartment. Hmmm..

One of my nearby neighbours in the Casa Concha, the house of shells. Another is the Cathedral. Another is my favourite restaurant from previous trips.


I love the strange house up the street, on my corner, with its very decorative upper facade.

Another feature of the location is, guess what my neighbours, two houses along, sell? Yes!


Valor! It’s a major brand of chocolate here in Spain. Thankfully I usually find it the Cadbury’s equivalent and am successful in trying not to need it 😊. I’m imperfect but I know you can buy bulk Lindt balls at a particular supermarket. But not my favourites, cappuccino, thankfully.

My landlady is Ana, a two kisser on meeting and parting. Very nice and has a wonderful apartment. One review, it’s from Airbnb, noted her unhappiness that the renters were late arriving, two hours late. So when I told her when I’d arrive I was dammed careful to get it right. Twenty to 30 minutes walk from the end of the train line I guessed. Phew, it was. I made sure it was. She seems fine!

The apartment is ideal for one or two. Separate toilet and shower, each with a basin, a bedroom with two adjacent singles, living area with a comfortable couch opposite a TV that shows the Discovery channel in Spanish (great). At one end of the living space is a reasonably well provisioned, small, kitchenette. At the other, large openable windows overlooking a private courtyard garden. Hmm.

How could it be private when overlooked by many apartments 3 or more floors high! Still, they get to water grass and to sit on it even if everyone watches enviously from their windows above. I thought I’d have access to the garden as my apartment is Bajo C, under (or below) C and I figured it was a ground or basement level apartment. It is actually street level and the block must slope more than I thought as there is a floor below me that does open onto the garden. Hmmm. Bajo bajo?
Interesting small differences exist between different countries. For example, the hot water in the shower needs the tap turned the other way. Many shared places use timed lights, a good system unless you stay on the loo longer than allocated or can’t find the door keys in time. And the door keys! They always imply to me that Spain is dangerous as most front doors of apartments have those heavy duty locks with 3 bolts plus one above and one below. And I turn many more times than I should need as I inevitably turn the key the wrong way and so then have to reverse it all. Slowly I’m getting it sorted. Might need many more visits to Spain to be sure.

Hair

Haircuts here still fascinate me. Well, the men’s do. The women often wear theirs long if young and it varies as they age from long to middling to number 3. And many of the 70+ women still get theirs permed and combed on Saturdays. Since I doubt it’s for a night out I’m assuming hairdressers shut Sunday but older women still have to look their best for church on Sunday.

Anyhow, hair and the men! For the past few years those aged 15 to 30 have slavishly copied some soccer player. Now it seems even more exaggerated. No longer #2 or 3 around the edges. No. An oval island of hair on top, a reverse tonsure filled with hair that seems to be getting longer every six months, perched over a #1 all the way down around the ears. Imagine a large hairy pimple on a pumpkin and you have it.

Breakfasts

Breakfast Saturday was at the station in Madrid, Chamartin. That is the one overseen by 4 skyscrapers all owned (or named at least) by the big 4 international accounting firms including PWC, KMP, E&Y etc. Forgive me if I’ve got the names wrong. I don’t use them professionally, only as a landmark at Chamartin. And no, I didn’t buy anything in the Chamartin lolly shop. Visited it though as, travelling with JP, I got to know them and their offerings well.

Breakfast Sunday was at Granier in Salamanca. Breakfast was the usual: white coffee plus a toasted roll with olive oil and minced up tomato. Not true I come to Spain for breakfast. But it could be.
And the streets were so quiet at the early hour of 9ish.


Around the streets

I found the cutest garage, beautifully adapted to look like original 15th or whatever century.


Nearby was a typical statue of a woman carved by a man who used a man as the model. The hands! The face!


Church

After breakfast, the church nearby had started a service so I dropped in. I was a little late. It’s one north of the touristy churches. Almost full of the over 70s. Yes, with nicely styled Sunday perms.

Among the few under 70 was a family with three young boys. Everyone had to turn to their neighbours and shake their hands at one stage. One little boy was very vigorous in doing this to the two old ladies in the pew behind. One was a very shrunken and distorted old lady, with a crutch and rheumatoid hands. She didn’t flinch. Was too surprised but I flinched on her behalf. Poor thing.

I don’t fit in in church in Spain. Too young and I have the wrong hairstyle, not having enough hair for a Saturday perm. Plus, I don’t know the responses to the priest. But I get irritated by the beggars here that focus on the entrances to churches. Pushy and irritating. Sort of intimidating too as they fill a lot of the entrance space. I suspect few of those specialising in this tactic are christians so it always strikes me as blatant opportunism. That shuts my wallet more tightly and faster than anything else.


Along the street was another church. The number in old Salamanca? No idea. Many. Anyhow, not everybody gets inside where it was cool.  It was very hot out.

I currently have an upper respiratory infection with an irritated cough and a sore throat. So I’m even happier I’m in a nice apartment where I can make honey and lemon concoctions all the time. I feel a bit better today and hopefully will be able to concentrate in school tomorrow. Priorities. Priorities.

Oh, and I found figs! So far I’ve seen two types, both new to me. I’ve only bought been ones so far as the purplish ones looked as though they’d become exhausted after extensive travel. Limp and a bit mildewy.  The green are wonderful.

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