Huelva, the back streets

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Next Station

The great student city of Salamanca greets us with great sheets of rain that pour down on our flimsy summer dresses upon arrival. Depressed much? We come from an area where the sun pours down in overly enthusiastic rays of heat, to this. As if it was not enough to leave the love of our lives behind.

To console ourselves we head off in search of some café that will serve some kind of a tapa this late at night and find what will soon become two of our staples: bolas de atun (a ball made from mashed potato, mixed with tuna and served aioli) and huevos fritos (fried eggs served on bits and pieces of salty ham). As we mentioned, Salamanca is a student town and therefore going out for a glass of wine and a snack – even for folks living on a budget – honestly does not break the bank.
Example: lunch could cost you all of 2 euro 80, for two people, including either a glass of wine or a small beer or a coffee and then of course the choice of two between a selection of tapas per person: the above mentioned winners as part of the mix or artichokes drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil or a salad of mussels, octopus and peppers or a fat slice of tortilla or little red peppers stuffed with creamy, um, stuff or a portion of chorizo. . . And two samples of whatever, really do the trick.

That evening we also settle into our new quarters: this time ‘round we share an apartment with other international students of Mester Language School. There’s a Frenchy, a Jappy, two Dutchies and a sweet Chinese girl (Chinesesy doesn’t quite work, does it?).

Although the vibe and the rhythm is completely different here, another kind of caring evolves between us and the city. Salamanca is lot smaller than our previous home, foreign students flock the streets (here, we rarely came across local Spaniards and had to make an adequate effort to track down discotecas or bars where they were hiding away, life is more fast-paced and the city is old. Salamanca houses on of the oldest universities in Europe, the original building dating back to the 12th century. During war time, when part of the university and cathedral were bombed, advanced people of the time, decided to be a little adventurous with the rebuilding and replaced certain facades or clusters of has-been swirls, with a frog (which is now Salamanca’s representing icon: la rana de Salamanca), an astronaut and even a dragon licking an ice-cream cone.
Thought they were kak funny, hey, pulling a sly little joke like that.

(shakes of the head)

And then, to elaborate on the bars . . . sigh. . . We discover what Salamanca is actually famous for – behind all the pretence of this history and culture shizz. Definitely the bars.

There’s Jacko’s – name after the legend, the king of dance and sing and decorated in his honour as well; there’s The Irish Rover, a stunning Irish bar, made up in the rich art deco style, with heavy brocade curtains, quaint chairs and sunken couches arranged around booth tables, old-school bar and winding wooden staircase; to top that, there’s El Corillo that is a jazz café and tapas bar, where all the arty types gather for a fat chat and glass of something-something; Candela was the place to hit late at night when one is in the mood for some serious salsa, Spanish music and the company of Spanish ladies and gentlemen; Tropica, where, often, Latin ballroom fundi’s join up to jam it out on smooth sounds and have a delicious, huge, freshly shaken cocktail.
So the names just carry on: from reggae bars to more glitzy hang-outs, or just downright scruffy places, though still with warm atmosphere and where good times are sure to be had.

Have we hit another jackpot, or what?

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