Given that I was in the area, I thought that I should at least have a look at Salamanca; it was only a fifteen minute drive away. I think Fi was a bit lonely and keen for a spin, too. Out on the road, Fi and I got tooted at because we were driving at the speed limit and the old man behind us was not too keen on that. TomTom also joined the party and sent me around and around in circles, several times. By the time I got out, I was dizzy and ready for some exploring of this university city.
Salamanca was very quaint, enriched with old architecture and plenty of places to sit and people watch. I followed my ears to the sound of buskers, of accordions and flamenco guitar notes dancing through the stoned streets. I turned corners and ended up outside churches, or in shops that begged to be browsed.
I took several moments in different places, to saturate in… and to avoid doing something completely NJ-esque like spilling coffee all down my front. In one piazza I watched one of those flag waving tour groups and cringed a little. I think I was also the subject of a photography shoot. But you never can tell with one of those big-ass lenses pointed in your general direction. So I sat tall with my stomach sucked in, just in case I was.
For lunch I found a cute wee cafe with sandwiches and pink cookies that were stamped ‘Baked with Love’. I asked for a fresh green iced tea and was given a pot, a glass filled with ice cubes and mint leaves, and a mug. In Spanglish, the man had explained what I had to do. “Claro, claro”, I nodded.
I had misinterpreted his instructions and had poured the hot tea into the mug, to be poured into the glass. He came back and shook his head at me, taking the tea away to safely decant it in the kitchen. What on earth was the mug for, then?
After lunch I was cruising the streets when I spotted something strangely familiar. Up ahead there was a small family of mum, dad and two kids. On the dad’s upper arm I recognised the swirl of a ta moko, a Maori tattoo from back home. So I hastened my stride and walked behind them, listening to their accents. I hadn’t heard a real live Kiwi in about three months. Instead of saying hello, I followed them until it became too creepy and obvious. I was satisfied with my fix. Strangely, I felt like they were the foreigners and I was more of a local.
My day trip concluded with some mouth-watering gelato in the Plaza, soaking up the sun’s rays and the tourists taking pictures. I went back to Fi with some road trip snacks for the following day. At the parking building, she was locked in so tight that I wondered how someone would squeeze in, to get her out. The handbrake was off and they simply rolled her out forwards, ready for me to 500 point turn out of there.
TomTom really let loose on some curly directions and I ended up taking a wrong turn down a dead end. The traffic light intersection really wasn’t clear with bits that were for lights into others that weren’t. I thought I was following the directions and road rules until one car came screaming around the corner and then decided to give me an absolute horn bollocking. From my rear windscreen I could see him yelling at me and Fi’s driving skills and thought he was going to follow me to give me a piece of his mind. I was thankful for just an overtake, Spanish expletives and a fist wave in the air.
Back at the hotel, I calmed my nerves and hunkered down for my last night of luxury. I didn’t want to leave, but I did; for the reason that I was there in the first place. The whole experience had been poignant and memorable, and most importantly, I had survived it… this five years.
There ain’t no blog like an NJ trying to drive in a foreign country blog. Expect some escapades, followed by my only night out in Southern Spain. Until then, stay awesome x