First taste of independence – A trip to Salamanca

Written From… A messy hotel room in Salamanca, Spain

I’ve always been a stay-at-home person but desperate times calls for desperate measures. I needed to escape from the stress of college and the dystopian society surrounding me. I’m a 17 year old who was eager and desperate for a ‘get out of jail’ card. All I wanted was to skip the whole process of education and begin adulthood. So the moment I got the opportunity to travel to Spain on a trip to Salamanca, to gain work experience, with no parent or teacher being present, how could I say no?

When Spain is mentioned one immediately thinks of Madrid, Barcelona or the famous dish paella. Little attention is given to the little city of Salamanca. With a history dating back to the Celtic era, it’s known for its ornate sandstone architecture and for the University of Salamanca. Luckily, my hotel was at the centre of all the major attractions.

My work placement was only a 2 minute journey from my hotel. I had a 4 hour break between my first and second shift, which gave me plenty of time to seek new corners. One could easily get lost in Salamanca. Walk for only 30 seconds and you’ll find yourself in a maze, surrounded by beautiful architecture.

Salamanca is known as the ‘golden city’ in Spain due its decorative sandstone features. Yes, there were times when I should’ve hugged a tree – because that’s what us newbies were told to do when lost – but getting lost was always my intention.

I find architecture fascinating and I hope to study it at university, so getting lost in Salamanca was the best thing that could’ve happened to me because I was always introduced to a new building.

Whilst being Dora the Explorer I came across La Casa de las conchas. A historic building that was built in the 1500’s and currently houses a public library. It was once the palace of Rodrigo Maldonado, a knight of the Santiago Order. But it’s the shells that grab the public’s attention.

With over 300 shells adorning the building, each shell represents the emblem of the Santiago Order. The building is not only aesthetically pleasing but also comforting. It forces you to pause, to take a break from reality and appreciate every inch of detail in its structure and features.

It was recommended that I visit the garden of Huerto de Calisto y Melibea on my trip to Salamanca. The British have Romeo and Juliet, and the Spanish have La Celestina. La Celestina – also known as The Comedy of Calisto and Melibea – is a work that was published in 1499. It’s considered to be one of the greatest works in Spanish Literature.

We all know how the story of Romeo and Juliet goes so we can accurately predict how La Celestina goes. A garden of love and tragedy. So why not go? At the centre of the garden is a wishing well with locks hanging right above it.

Each lock represents a couple who have secured and promised their love to one another, much like the locks outside Shoreditch Station in London. The garden sits on highland, meaning that the sunlight always shines upon it, making it the perfect destination for photographers, lovers and explorers like me.

I saved the best for last: La Plaza Mayor. La Plaza Mayor can be considered the main attraction in Salamanca – it’s debatable. But, personally, it was my favourite site of all, especially at night. It’s made of 4 walls that form a certain shape. But what shape? When standing at the very centre you immediately presume that it’s a square because all the sides look the same.

However, with architecture there’s always a hidden secret or feature. In this case, all 4 walls were of completely different lengths, forming an equilateral. Its mystique made La Plaza Mayor so special and unique for me.

I am grateful for this first taste of independence in Spain and I highly recommend Salamanca as a destination, even if you only do a day trip to Salamanca from Madrid. Even though I loved this experience and would gladly do it again, I need to go home. One does start to miss home and family. I could be exaggerating because it’s only been a week, but I’ve come to realise that I’m 17, I still need my parents and I’m still growing up.

One thing I now know for certain is that adulthood can take its time because I’ve still got more exploring to do.


Picture of Alison Carrillo Culqui
Alison Carrillo Culqui
A Latin-American-Londoner with a creative and adventurous disposition. Alison is a young academic fearlessly facing a world of opportunity. She has an implacable fascination with architecture and aims to carve out a career in the profession.

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