Day four in our trip, and it’s finally the sun’s time to shine! We left the hotel and the heat smacked us like a freight train, causing us to whip out our sunglasses simultaneously. I bet those who saw us thought we were mega cool. This was a while ago mind you, so really the sunglasses thing was probably all my imagination. Let’s go with it anyway.
We started the day with an iced coffee; needing to set ourselves right after all those cocktails from the previous evening. Totally in the belief that the ‘third time lucky,’ idiom couldn’t fail us, we decided to make this our day to venture up to the top of the cathedral.
We first paid a visit to Plaza de la Libertad, a beautiful little square that manages to exist as a peaceful spot, despite the restaurants and bars that border it.; not to mention that it’s located just through the most popular arch of the Plaza Mayor, toward Calle Zamora. I say this is the most popular arch as the square’s clock resides above it. This clock is pretty famous, and people meet there all the time – family, groups of friends, first daters…language exchange partners..you get the idea.
Pictures taken and plans made to return to visit the very cool Hernandez y Fernandez (a great bar!) and go for dinner at Zazu (review pending) both located in the Plaza de la Libertad, it was time to see the foundations of the Old and New cathedral and view all of Salamanca from as high as we could go.
We paid the entry fee (€3.50 each during the middle of summer..bargain!) and started to climb the steps toward the top. To be honest, I found myself clambering after a short while. The steps were so tiny and steep. As someone afraid of heights, I was apprehensive about what was ahead but tried not to be a wuss. Niall and Sarah both remained cool as cucumbers, making fun of me at times but supporting me mostly. How I love those two.
We’re halfway up and we start to see signs requesting silence – we were approaching the new cathedral from above. So many times I’ve visited and winced when I saw tiny people high above…I never knew I’d be one of them someday! I wish I could have added some pictures of the beauty down below but they seem to have a lot of it cornered off these days so we couldn’t go in.
The attention to detail inside the cathedral is just as mind blowing as its exterior. The organ and stained glass designs are incredible, and the ribbed vaulting and flying buttresses overhead look like bunched silk sheets (to me anyway!) I could never even dream of designing something so spectacular.
We continued toward the top, and stopped at the next level that precedes the final staircase. I’ll never forget the heat; or the fear I felt when we realised how close we were to the cathedral’s clock; we were nearly at the bell tower!
As the bell tower is narrow, only a certain amount of people are allowed up at a time. We waited by the steps until the countdown showed a green man, and finished our journey to the top…
I’m glad we waited for a clear and sunny day. Just look at the view!
Here’s Sarah and I standing under one of the bells, moments before it chimed. It scared us out of our wits. Especially Sarah. She’s going to kill me for this one….
There’s a touchscreen system at the bell tower where you can email yourself a picture postcard. Once you press send, a bell chimes. A cool idea, don’t you think? Here’s our one..
We had worked up quite an appetite from our triumphant trek to the top and back again. The weather was still beautiful (if not hotter – Salamanca is often at it’s hottest around 5pm) so we ventured down to Calle Obispo Jarrín to Bar Mario to sit in the sun over a late lunch.
The concept of Bar Mario is a clever one. Everything they offer is on a checklist – drinks on one side, food on the other. You can order soft drinks, wine, beer, sangria…then flip it over and take your pick from a list of sandwiches, burgers, scrambled egg dishes and patatas bravas.
You can take your time ordering and you’ll know what’s in everything, which is win-win for picky eaters. It’s a nice change from times where there are so many tapas on offer, I find myself trying to guess what they are and take far too long to decide, while probably exasperating some poor bar man.
Whatever you order comes out on a tray – crispy fresh rolls hot from the oven and plates piled high with patatas bravas smothered in sauces tend to appear on most tables. You can ask for as many checklists as you like and it’s crazy cheap. You could easily get carried away and sit there all day trying everything on the menu!
I recommend the tostada de gambas con ali-oli (fresh crispy bread with garlic mayonnaise and prawns cooked to perfection) and the pechuga de pollo con queso azul y piquillo (chicken breast sandwich with blue cheese sauce and peppers.)
For more information on visiting the Old and New Cathedral, click here for the website.
Bar Mario (a must-visit spot for students!) is located on Calle Obispo Jarrín, 37001 Salamanca.
♥ ♥ ♥