Salamanca: The Youngest Oldest City and A Love Story

I honestly can’t focus while typing this; it’s been difficult switching between English and Spanish so I’ve just been incredibly lazy and ignored everything in English that’s unnecessary (aka writing for my beloved blog, sorry everyone). Plus, I just keep playing Despacito over and over again, so of course I’m not going to get anything done.

Really though, I’ve had so much homework, including readings and papers in Spanish. “You’re not actually studying though are you?” my friends would jokingly say to me.  LOL STUDY ABROAD is actually study abroad believe it or not. Thank the goddess Venus herself for saving my soul and giving me friends in Spain from an exchange I did when I was sixteen in Tres Cantos (more on this later). I don’t know if I would have learned anything without them this trip.

They weren’t in Salamanca with me unfortunately.  Instead, I had the most amazing group of chicas (and chico) from University of Maryland with me. For four weeks, the lot of us enjoyed everything the “Youngest Oldest City” had to offer.

Now what the hell does that mean? Youngest Oldest City? Are you losing your ability to speak English now?

Super glad you’re curious and also to the point. So let me explain some things and see if you can piece it together:

  1. Salamanca is a city in the Castile and León region, about two hours away from Madrid
  2. It was founded in the 1100s (before the United States was a thing or even an idea)
  3. The Universidad de Salamanca is a thing. Next year, it’ll be 800 years old
  4. People still go to this school…. so what type of people attend a university usually?

Bingo. This incredibly old city is full of college students, and it’s a beautifully dangerous mixture. Along with all the landmarks, including libraries with globes that don’t include North America (because it wasn’t found yet, holy shit) and cathedrals towering over the city in marvelous fashion, there are bars with drinks as big as my head and discotecas (dance clubs) that close as the sun rises. During the day, we were cultured students studying at one of the oldest universities in Europe, and by night, Americanas with burning desires to dance, practice our Spanish, and drink Aguas de Valencia. And that’s how the love story comes in.

But first I want to clarify; there’s so much more to this city than that. From the charming cafes and tapas restaurants, to the beautiful river, and the perfect Spanish of the Salamantinos, I couldn’t have asked for a better city to live in.  I loved my host family, despite all the goddamn potatoes they gave me on a daily basis.

Seriously though, a PSA to Spaniards: You need to eat more vegetables. For real, potatoes and tomatoes ain’t going to do it for you. Pan (bread) is not a vegetable and neither is vino. Get it together

*Maybe I’m just a little more than jealous, or I’m absolutely right*

Spain, don’t change. I love you.

That’s not my love story though. I’ve been in love for Spain longer than any guy in my life. No, this was new “love”. It all started with wanting to practice Spanish, and what better way to do that than, you guessed it (maybe not actually…) TINDER. I figured, what the hell. I need to speak Spanish with native speakers and una cita, a date out in the romantic cafes of Spain would be nice. Now, for the purpose of discreetness, and also so you can’t look these people up through my Facebook and tell them I wrote this story and laugh forever at my awkwardness, I’m not going to tell you their names. Instead, all you have to remember is there was a Puertorriqueño  and a Mexicano. What a start to this story, not even a Spaniard in sight.

More context is probably necessary about the setting. Salamanca, and other cities in Spain have these places called Plaza Mayores. Out of all that I have seen, Salamanca’s is by far the most beautiful. To Americans, it probably seems like some silly European crap; it’s just  an open square with restaurants and stores surrounding the opening. I absolutely love it though. People gather there to hang out or celebrate. When Real Madrid won right after I arrived in Spain, you better believe I was there.

I set up a date with the Puertorriqueño; we were to meet in Plaza Mayor near the elephant, an almost obscene sculpture who’s ass was pointed in the air and occasionally farted mist. I’m not giving you anymore context than that. So, I waited in front of the farting piece of art for my date, while my two other amigas were waiting at a bar nearby (I’m not stupid, I wasn’t going in alone). As I sat there waiting, I noticed to my right a fidgety guy, and wow was he cute. I could tell her kept looking over at me, maybe waiting for a date of him own. After about ten minutes of waiting, the cute guy, as you will come to know as the Mexicano, turned toward me, jumped over, and started talking to me. Just as he started, my date was walking towards me. All I could think was “Shit I’m so  awkward what do I do?” I kept talking to the Mexicano with the Puertorriqueño now to my left. It was an uncomfortable sandwich love affair. I finally said to the Mexicano “this is my date! but hey, you should come with us to meet my friends…”

The night went well. Aguas de Valencia and chupitos (shots) of tequila all around. The Mexicano informed us he had one night left in Salamanca, and that he was glad to have made friends with such amazing Americanas and a fellow brother (He may not have said amazing but I knew he was thinking it). My Puertorriqueño friend walked me home. I wasn’t feeling the amor after our date. To be honest, I prefered to meet without the help of the internet, no judgement to anyone who does. That’s exactly what I was doing right? But it was to practice my Spanish, not to fall in love.

Next night, I got on my black dress and Adidas; Ms. Steal Your Heart. Objectively, I looked quite good. Subjectively, I was looking like the best thing since sliced bread everyone. I was prepared for a night out with the girls. Listened to Kendrik Lamar on my walk to Plaza Mayor; trying to humble myself but I was having a good time. When I arrived, my friend informed me she invited the Mexicano to Plaza Mayor. Apparently, he was there for another night. Also apparently, she didn’t want to see him….

All I could think was “OKAY, no, not chill. Don’t stand someone up because you’re just not feeling it.” I saw him out of the corner of my eye and ran over. That night in plaza mayor there was a light show on the buildings. He was standing on the steps of the elephant where we first met, watching the lights show. His name burst from my mouth, followed by his immediate swivel towards me and a flashing smile appearing on his face. I bet it’s not hard to convince you I swooned immediately when he asked me if I wanted to get a beer, or rather a cerveza.

The two of us sat in a bar, drinking beers and talking about rugby (which he plays quite competitively), Rogue One, and Donald Trump. We left to look for the others girls and to head to another bar with the full intention of having an unreasonable, but seemingly reasonable at the time, number of Aguas de Valencia. No one appeared, and I was rather disappointed to miss my friends. The feeling disappeared after turning around from the bar to a kiss. Yep, I was smitten.

From bar to bar we went, then to a discoteca and another bar. We danced the night away, hand in hand. “I want to show you the most beautiful sights of Salamanca,” he told me. “Beautiful sights for a beautiful girl.” Kind of cheesy, I know. We walked through the lamp lit, winding streets of the Spanish city, holding hands as if this was so typical for us.

By 4am it was time to say goodbye. It felt like the night was only just beginning, but I knew it was time to go. A final kiss and an “Hasta luego” were exchanged. I really do think I’ll see him again, wherever the road takes me though. Quite frustrating though isn’t it? But I’ve come to be comfortable with change and uncertainty. It’s one of the most difficult and beautiful parts of traveling. I wouldn’t trade it for the world

I knew it wasn’t love, not really. That was the night though I fell in love with Salamanca. Even after the boy was gone, I’d walk down those streets and picture what I wish the future could be for me; forever enjoying the dark and wondrous nights of such an old and beautiful town.

Of course I continued to enjoy the city with friends and on my own. All of us went for tapas and wine. There were surely many more nights of Aguas de Valencia, discotecas, staying out until the sunrises, and also helping to make sure incredibly inebriated people are alright. There were also days at the parks and pools, soaking up that Spanish sun and pretending like I wasn’t the whitest person within a five mile radius. There was time to explore and time to practice Spanish with impatient shop keepers. I felt like I was a child, finding all the sites only an adventurous and curious child could find. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I walked to class as if I had always lived there and always would. By the time I left, I was tempted to tell everyone “Soy de Salamanca! I’m from Salamanca!” and that was surely my joke to my friends in Madrid and Tres Cantos.

*Buzzwords to remember: Plaza Mayor, Agua de Valencia, Universidad de Salamanca, Discoteca?, Studying (actually), Pan and Vino  are not vegetables, Una Cita, Amor, Chupitos = shots*

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Hannah L. says:

    Ahhh Megan!! I enjoyed reading this so so much! I can’t wait to get back to school and hear more! You’re so amazing and I loved reading about how much you loved traveling and how much it impacted you ❤

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