Early Sunday morning, and by early I mean EARLY! we piled into the car for the 8 hour drive to the west of Spain. I woke up passing Toledo (about 50km south of Madrid) to the site of the Álcazar light up on the hill, which was a nice view to wake up to. We soon reached the first stop of our journey, Ávila. The city is famous for having the most complete Roman walls, which are comprised of 88 towers and is the largest illuminated monument in the world! Laura has spent three years telling me how amazing it is so my expectations were high and it definitely didn’t disappoint! We also entered the Cathedral, which was a bit pricey (thank goodness that Spain has embraced the idea of student discounts which knocked off over half the price for us!), and the convent of Santa Teresa, where I got shushed by a fossilised security guard for having hiccups…
Having explored the first city, it was time to jump into the car again for the two hour journey to Ciudad Rodrigo, where we stretched our legs walking around one of the ten prettiest cities in the country, but most of the town was shut because it was now quite late and it was Easter Sunday. We walked along the walls for a while before getting into the car again and heading to the border to cross over into Portugal. We made the short journey to Almeida and looked around the old fortifications as the sun set, before heading to San Martín del Castañar, the village where we were staying.
We arrived at 10.30pm and were directed to our rented house before searching for the only restaurant open to have dinner.
The next day dawned with a brilliant sun shining over the hills, which greeted us with an even better view than what I had woken up to the day before! We had breakfast and got into the car to go and visit a nearby village called La Alberca, a small, very old fashioned village with a beautiful town square and LOTS of jamón! Then we went up into the mountains to the top of La Peña de Francia, where we had amazing views of the whole province. Then we went down the mountain again heading towards Salamanca city, with me acting as DJ (sorry for my rubbish singing Rafa y Roser!). The amount of time spent in the car also gave me a good opportunity to write A LOT of my YARP, and I’m now on 5.200+ words, thank goodness! I will be so glad when this is handed in and I can enjoy the summer months of my stay in Spain!!
Salamanca… Wow. It’s so pretty! The university is basically the Oxford University of Spain, due to its age (it’s the oldest in the Peninsula) and its prestige, along with its prettiness. We had dinner in a restaurant (I didn’t realise that while they were serving the lentils to you at your table, you had to tell them when to stop adding food which lead to me having a very very full plate! Menos mal that they were extremely yummy!) Then we explored the cathedral, the town square and did the tourist train! The man at the entrance of the cathedral got extremely confused when I spoke in Spanish saying I was English and asking for the audioguide in French… at least I understood the audioguide and wasn’t left with egg on my face! I was actually really pleased that I can still understand French after almost a year without really using/listening to it!
The day after we went to visit the towns surrounding San Martín de Castañar, including Mogarraz, a really strange town that had paintings of its inhabitants on the walls of the houses they had lived in… The inhabitants also looked at our car with amazement, it genuinely felt like we had journeyed back in time it was so weird! Then we went to Miranda del Castañar to see its castle and then back to San Martín to have lunch and pack the car for the journey back.
On the way back, to have a break from being in the car and to visit a place I had never been to but always wanted to see, we visited Aranjuez, to see the palacio, which was absolutely beautiful! We weren’t allowed to take photos inside but there was a room decorated in the Arabic style which took my breath away! I would definitely visit again!
We arrived back to Cullera at 3am to relax until Friday, when we head of for part 2 of the Easter travels, to Zaragoza!