Favorite thing: When I say "tuna", I'm not talking about fish. I'm talking about the traditional groups of very cute male students (each faculty has its own group, represented by a different colour) who dress in olden-days minstrel/troubadour costumes and sing/play traditional Spanish songs in public places. They're very talented (both musically, and in the fun stunts they perform), and always attract crowds. I especially liked one tuna in particular - the Tuna de Medicina de Salamanca (the University of Salamanca's medicine faculty tuna). They played every weeknight on a terrace in the Plaza Mayor.
The tunos (members of a tuna) are always charming, friendly, and very flirty. When they're playing a song, the lead singer/tambourine player often pulls a girl up and dances with her (I got pulled up once). One of the bandurria (instrument similar to a lute) players in the Tuna de Medicina literally made me weak in the knees whenever he sang a solo. What a beautiful voice he had! *swoon*. The accordion player was also quite the cutie. One night, after their little "show", a few members of this tuna sang a few songs to my Mexican friend and I, and we were in Heaven the whole time!
Whenever the tunas sing to a girl, the girl also has to kiss every one of the tunos on the cheek to thank them, and the tunos often use this opportunity to do silly things to attract attention.
Fondest memory: The tuna sang to me individually twice. On my birthday and on my last night. On my birthday, they got me to stand on a chair (they often do this to the girls they sing to), and while they were getting ready to sing, the cute bandurria player started playing a little tune and singing to me "Que guapa, que guapa, que guapa..." (how gorgeous). Then, they sang me Happy Birthday in Spanish.
On my last night, I wanted them to sing to me but I was too shy to ask, so my professor went to them and asked. Then, they had me stand on a chair and serenaded me with the most romantic love song! It was the song I had wanted them to sing to me. In the middle of the song, they all got down on one knee for me, and the whole crowd clapped. Before and after singing to me, the lead singer kept making flirty comments on the short skirt I was wearing. I even have a picture of him kneeling down with his arms wrapped around my legs! Being serenaded by my favorite tuna was the perfect grand finale for an amazing trip!
¡Viva la tuna!
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- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: The nightlife in Salamanca is great! The discos and bars are all downtown, and within walking distance of each other. Also, they don't have a cover charge, and drinks are usually cheap. I adore the music they play at discos - mostly Spanish pop, like David Bisbal (they played his music in pretty much every bar!), David Civera, Chenoa, Marcos Llunas, etc. But they also played J.Lo, Madonna, and other music that's famous everywhere. There was also a salsa club called El Sabor, where they played all Latin-American music (mostly salsa and merengue). Some of the discos (such as Cum Laude and Camelot) are in old stone buildings.
The bars and discos usually don't get filled with people until past midnight. Then, they keep partying until around 7 or 8 in the morning.
Fondest memory: I had met a few people in the Portugal tour (I had gone to Portugal for a weekend with an organized tour by the university), and after our favorite tuna in the Plaza Mayor finished their little show, we went out to the discos. We always had lots of fun on those nights. The people I partied with were Latin-American (Also, one person from the States too), mostly from Mexico and South America, but they teach Spanish in the States (I think they were taking a teacher training course in Salamanca). I very much enjoyed partying with them, they were great people and I always had a lot of fun with them.
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- School Holidays
Relaxing in the Plaza and at cafes
Favorite thing: Even with all the excitement of being in Salamanca, there are times when it's nice to just sit down at a cafe in town, have a drink and/or snack, and relax. During the afternoon after class is a good time for this, since most shops and public places are closed for lunch. The city is usually quiet during that time of day, so it's good for studying, chatting with a friend, and relaxing in general. Also, in the evenings it's nice to chill out a little and have a few drinks before going out dancing and partying.
Fondest memory: During my first trip to Salamanca, my group and I would always go to the same cafe in the Plaza Mayor, where the same friendly waiter would bring us our drinks and chat with us. We'd get some studying done and plan our adventures for the next few days. One time, we tried to get our professor to down a tequila shot, but she didn't know how to drink it so she was nervous and jittery, and she sipped it! We had a good laugh over that!
On my second trip, during the day I'd often go for a batido (milkshake) at different places in town, but one of my favorites was a cafe on Rua Mayor (I think?) near the Plaza de Anaya. I'd often have a batido or glass of sangria and a bowl of fried squid rings, and get some studying done. My professor often went there too, so the waiter there knew her and was friendly. On my birthday, she and I and Josh went to that cafe, my prof bought me a glass of sangria, and that waiter pulled my ear 21 times (since I was turning 21).
And of course, I always enjoyed sitting in the Plaza Mayor in the evenings, drinking sangria and watching my favorite tuna group put on their little show. Although they made it much more fun than relaxing!
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- Food and Dining
The bullfight - Corrida de Toros
Favorite thing: On my first trip to Spain, some of us, including my professor, went to see a bullfight in the local bullring. Bullfights are a huge part of Spanish culture, and when we went, the bullring was packed. We bought tickets for the cheapest seats (the andanadas - the equivalent of the nosebleed section), which cost around 17 Euros, but we could still see everything that was happening. We knew that Julian Lopez Escobar aka "El Juli" would be fighting bulls that afternoon. The biggest superstar and darling of the bullfighting world, he was only 19 at the time - and so was I! He was as talented as he was cute, and for the next few days, I mentionned my "Cutie", "Juli the Cutie", or "El Cutie" many times a day and squealed every time something reminded me of him - much to the annoyance of the rest of my group...
During the corrida, one girl in my group closed her eyes whenever something gory happened, and my prof freaked out and covered her eyes whenever the picador lanced the bull's neck, but I watched everything.
Bullfights aren't a free-for-all stabfest meant to torture animals. A good matador gets top honours if he kills the bull on the first stab - the hardest way to kill, and least painful for the bull. If there is too much blood/gore, or if the matador stabs too many times before the bull dies, the audience is not happy. I enjoyed the bullfight because of the traditional aspects - the music, the costumes, and the grace of the matador as he bravely faces a dangerous bull in a fight that has the potential to end his life.
Terminology for following section:
Matador - bullfighter who kills the bull
Picador - guy on a horse who lances the bull's neck
Banderillo - guy who throws coloured sticks in the bull's back
Fondest memory: After finding the andanadas, we sat on the stone benches. Before the bullfight even started, I'd already fallen in love with El Juli...
A trumpetist got up to play a tune, and the door opened. Out came the matadors and their crew, dressed in their suits of lights, as they made their grand entrance. Aside from El Juli, there were 2 others: Paco Ojeda - older and experienced, and Javier Valverde - a 23-year old rookie who was ready to take his initiation. Each matador fought 2 bulls, 1 at a time.
The 1st bull was taken out of the ring because of its limp - a bull must be at its full strength to be fought. Javier fought the replacement bull, but didn't kill it on the first stab like a matador should so the audience didn't give him any special praise.
Paco's performances weren't anything too special in my opinion. But I was very impressed by El Juli. Instead of letting the banderilleros put the sticks in the bull's back, the audience wanted Juli to do it, both times. Juli also fought his bulls with skill and grace, and killed both on the first stab. Meanwhile I was crazy in love! "Whoo Cutie!" I yelled as the audience cheered for him. Once, as he fought his 2nd bull, the bull suddenly charged unexpectedly and started chasing him. My prof turned to me and said "Your Cutie has to run!" I watched him run away from that big bull, and yelled "Run Cutie run!"
Since Javier was going through his initiation to officially become a matador, he fought last: a huge brown bull - the biggest one. The picador lanced its neck, but went too deep and left the spear in too long, so the audience started clapping in a way to tell that picador to get out and never do it again. Javier fought the bull, but stabbed it at least 3-4 times before it died. By that time, the bull was tired, in pain, and could hardly run - not good. When the bull finally died, the audience threw their seat pillows into the ring - a way to say "You suck!" Then, the corrida ended, and we left the bullring.
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- Arts and Culture
Bypassing the city
Favorite thing: It always makes me feel sorrow when I pass in Salamanca, going somewhere else - I only visited the city once, slept only one night, and left with the idea that I should come back with more time.
I passed there a dozen times since then, but always with a few hours to arrive somewhere. No! Salamanca deserves to have another planned visit, and I will do it!
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: Tourist Offices
* Oficina de Información Turística de Salamanca pic)
Rúa mayor (Casa de las Conchas)
- Tel.: (+34) 923 26 85 71
- Fax: (+34) 923 26 24 92
- E. mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Turismo y Comunicación de Salamanca, SAU
Plaza Mayor, 32-19, first floor
- Tel.: (+34) 923 27 24 08
- Fax: (+34) 923 27 24 07
- Internet: www.salamanca.es
- E. mail: email@example.com
* Oficina Municipal de Turismo
Plaza Mayor, 32-19 bajo
- Tel.: (+34) 923 21 83 42 and 902 30 20 02
- Fax: (+34) 923 21 83 42
- Internet: www.salamanca.es
- E. mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I finally found HIM
Favorite thing: After finding the frog on the university's gate, I thought my long searches were over. However, not shortly thereafter I was surprised to know that one of my other great searches in life was over. I had found HIM! After all my life, all my travels, all my quests, I was shown a sign. The sign quite clearly showed "JESUS".
I followed it. The sign did not say much and quickly became quiet again. I was soon at another dead-end. Back to square one, my search will continue.
The tuna, my best memories of Salamanca
Favorite thing: The most important and atractive activity I would take someone is the Tuna, specially the tuna of the medical faculty, they not only sing well but they are also very nice. Their songs are based on the Spanish story, specially dedicated to women, so that these songs are very romantic. If anyone goes to Salamanca, please, go to the Plaza Mayor and see the tuna, though they only sing in summer time.
Fondest memory: What I miss most when I am away from Salamanca is the Tuna and its members.
Streets to remember
Favorite thing: My favourite thing about Salamanca is to walk in the streets, specially at night. Though there are always people at midday and at night, to walk at night gives another view of the city, with people walking and having fun, specially in the Plaza Mayor.
The streets are full of history and people, this is the reason why I really like walking in the streets of Salamanca.
Fondest memory: The tunos is the fondest memory of Salamanca. They were very nice and gentle, I felt on cloud nine when I was kissed by them because it is very Spanish to kiss the cheeks, specially men towards women. The tunos are the last romantic men in Spain this is why I felt so comfortable with them, next year I will go back to see them again.
- Arts and Culture
La tuna de la facultad de medicina de Salamanca
Favorite thing: La tuna is the most romantic and beautiful thing I saw in Salamanca. It is formed by a group of men singing to women, they play in the streets of Salamanca everyday so I had the opportunity of seeing them when I was on holiday last week. They were very nice and friendly, specially towards women (they like flirting, something normal on Spanish men and women), they were very considerate and allowed me to take pictures with them, the most attractive tuna singer was Domingo, who was in fact, the leader of the group.
- Historical Travel
History of the tuna
Favorite thing: Salamanca is a city full of interesting places to visit, museums, cathedrals, churches, convents, etc and different things to do. The most amazing thing I have ever seen is to see the tunos sing in the Plaza Mayor, the main point in the city, where people can have a drink while seeing the tunos play their music.
I had the opportunity to hear them singing their songs, in Spanish, obviously.
The tuna has its roots in the X century, when the poor students who wanted to go to University and did not have any money, had to sing in the streets, always to women. The tuna has different sashes with different colours depending on the faculty they study at: the yellow is for the medical faculty, the green for the vet faculty, the red for the law faculty and there are many more different sashes. Apart from this, the tunos always wear a band with different meanings because these bands can represent their wives, their friends or their families, even leader of the tunos I saw in Salamanca wore a band representing the Spanish flag, all depends on the tuno's personal ideas.
Most of the tunos study at University, while some of them are professors or even more, they do not have anything to do with the University. These tunos, who are neither students nor professors,have to pay a small amount of money to be members of the tuna.
The tunos of the medical faculty of Salamanca are the best tunos in Spain, in fact, they are very famous. I saw them in Salamanca and I must admit that I fell in love with them because they not only sang very well but they were also very nice.
Fondest memory: The thing I miss most when I am away from this Spanish city is the tunos of the medical faculty because they sing very well and always sing romantic songs.
Paseo de las Carmelitas
Fondest memory: This is maybe the most beautiful street in Salamanca, with all its trees and the lavender in the middle. Look at the third photo of this tip, where the foliage hides the traffic lights! It was a pleasure to have a walk there.
Universidad de Salamanca - the royals
Favorite thing: What I most liked in the façade of the Universidad de Salamanca was the tondo portraying King Ferdinando and Queen Elisabetha (their names are written under their bodies). Moreover, I was glad to read an inscription in Greek that says The royals to education and this one to the royals.
Anyway, even if you cannot read Greek, you can enjoy the beauty of the two sculptures and of the decorations.
- Castles and Palaces
Strength of stone
Favorite thing: Salamanca is well-known for its monumental stone structures, most of which are made from stone quarried in nearby Villamayor (about 5 km outside of Salamanca). Apparently, the unique stone changes colors as the sun hits it at different angles throughout the day, although the sun was hiding from me during my stay in Salamanca, so I missed out on this spectacle.
Cheap Hostel in Salamaca
Favorite thing: There are a lot of cheap Hostels in Salamanca, usually right in the center. The danger is that thy are usually full during the week-ends.
I went to one in a off street, almost without passage that usually still has free rooms during the week-end.
Rooms are about 22-28 euros (double room). As I travelled alone, on a budget, I choose a one bed one and paid only 18 euros (june 2005). Well it has no window and is little but has its bathroom and television. Furthermore the hostel is very clean and quite central (Hostal Eureka, calle Serranos).
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