Salamanca and Cuidad Rodrigo, walled cities and churches and storks, so many storks.

We passed this bell towers on our way from the train to our hotel, it was just the first of many towers sporting huge nests and multiple pairs of storks!

We took the slow train from Madrid to Salamanca, which was nice because the countryside was lovely and the regular speed allowed us to catch more than just a quick glimpse of the stone walls and villages, as well as some cows and blooming fields. The train had two stops in Salamanca and the second was closer to our hotel. What we didn’t know was that the stop was just that. The train stopped, there was a platform, but no signs, no buildings; so it was a good thing some guy on the train told the people in front of us that we were at the last stop and should exit. We followed them. I don’t remember what exactly our plan was for getting to the hotel, a short two kilometers away, but it is good we pack so we can make those walks.

When we were planning the trip we came across several suggestions to add Salamanca to our itinerary, so we did. But, as we walked along a nice but nondescript commercial strip, I admitted to Dan that I forgot why we put the city on the list of places to stop. His response “I’m sure there is something worthwhile here.” That’s why he is the best of travel companions (and husbands). As we got closer to the hotel we started to pass by the amazing buildings the city is famous for and I remembered why we came!

Salamanca is home to two major cathedrals, a university, monasteries and cloisters. The city still has much of the medieval walls intact and a bridge dating back to the days Spain was part of the Roman Empire. We enjoyed several days wandering around looking at the buildings and enjoying the end of term vibe given off by the students. One day as we finished our (too early by Spanish standards) lunch, we realized that all of the folks we’d seen walking around in various costumes were following some musicians down the street in an impromptu parade. Apparently it’s a thing, but we couldn’t find many details about it.

The dome of a University of Salamanca building behind some other lovely structures.
An entrance to the “new” Cathedral, built a mere few hundred years after the “old” Cathedral, which still stands. Salamanca is unusual in that it has two Cathedrals. And they are connected.
The “new” Cathedral, done well before the United States declared independence, in the early 1700s. The “old” Cathedral was at least 100 years old at that point.

We took the “tower tour” and made sure we got there early to avoid the lines. We were the first to enter and enjoyed poking around the stairways, rooftop walkways, and various rooms and exhibits with very few others. Good timing too, because as we made our way down and out there were several large groups working their way up to the bell tower.

A view from a lower terrace (3 or 4 steep flights up) at the towers of both cathedrals. The shorter, sharper tower is to the Old Cathedral, and the dome is for the New Cathedral.
The tower tour does not include the nave in either Cathedral, but you do walk across a narrow and very high balcony overlooking the main space of the New Cathedral.
The walkway over the roofs of both Cathedrals.
The balcony on the other side and some of the stained glass.
A view into the old city from one of the many terraces on our way to the bell tower.
The bells in the bell tower. They chime every quarter hour, we managed to be NOT in the tower when that occurred. The stairs were circular, very steep, and winding. They had a set of timed red and green lights to manage traffic and it worked really well.
This room housed the gears for the clock. These gears no longer keep the time on the clock.
The Roman Bridge, built when the Iberian Penninsula was part of the empire, so yep it’s old.

Cuidad Rodrigo

Our original plans for the trip through Spain included Vigo on the west coast, but the transportation just didn’t work out. So, faced with a need to find a way to get to Porto we came across a private tour where a driver would take us! It was only a little more than the other options and took way less time. There was an option to add a “tour” and Dan signed us up for the stop at the town of Cuidad Rodrigo. It was perfect! Marta was friendly, knowledgeable, and was almost s excited we were going to Porto (her home town) as we were.

Your random flowering tree for this post. They smelled really good too!
Still defending the town! The fortification walls still surround the town. The walls are very thick. We didn’t get a photo, but we drove through a gate and it was at least twenty feet in that section.
A bell tower with more nesting storks!

On the drive to reach Ciudad Rodrigo we passed so many more nesting storks. I started pointing out the ones I saw and Marta, our delightful Portugese driver, was so impressed that when I dubbed myself “stork spotter” she agreed! Dan mumbled something along the lines: they can’t be storks, there aren’t anywhere near enough babies…

A view of the Cathedral from the walking path along the wall. This is one of the few spots where there weren’t locals out getting their steps in!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s