Porto – Salamanca
27.06.2015 - 13.07.2015 34 °C
The morning started at a leisurely pace as we did not have to leave the hotel until 9.30. Now, even though we had seen lots of shops with cork products, we still did not have any pieces for ourselves. We asked Tom if we had shopping time this morning and he said that he was happy to drop us off in the centre of town while the rest of the tour group headed off to the port tasting tour. So we waited for the shop to open and then went in to buy some bits and pieces. It was a short taxi ride through the tunnel, over the bridge and to the right and we were at Sandeman Winery, a very flash looking joint. I didn’t want Ross to miss this one so we were lucky enough to arrive in time for an information video about the grapes the company grows and where they were grown. We were also there in time to do some tasting and, of course, spend some money.
We had an early lunch stop at a servo somewhere – fresh sandwich and coffee. The journey today was through a mountainous region but the road system leaves our roads for dead. After another quick toilet stop, we arrived at the beautiful walled city of Salamanca. What we didn’t know was the bus could not get us to the hotel. We had to mount the steep slope to our accommodation. As it was 32 degrees at 4pm, this was quite an effort, especially for those on a walking stick or bad knees. Once we checked in we rounded up Denise and Bill and went back down the ramp to view the Roman Bridge that spanned the local river. It was quite beautiful where the water was running as rapids. As you could imagine, it was very hot but worth the look. The hard part was getting back up the hill again.
The afternoon tour was organised to leave at 6.15. Salamanca is a very old, dating back to the Roman times. The cathedral is of a Gothic structure but it has been blended with a newer construction as well. The buildings are absolutely magnificent, with bells ringing on the half hour. Salamanca is also home to three universities. We were privileged to go through one of these. There is also a story about a frog and it is found upon the skull on the front of the university. One of the churches had some renovations done and the architecture students were given the challenge of completing this. The church now has an astronaut and other features that should not be represented around the doorway sculpture. Apparently they wanted to give the upgrade a more modern perspective. The old city was magnificent but the group found it very hard to stay alert due to the heat and the fact that we had had a long trip on the bus and this tour didn’t finish until 7.30pm. The tour guide was related to Hitler I think and she told us the story about some Chinese people who dropped out of the group without her permission and she found them sitting in the square. Then she discovered 80 year old John who has a walking stick and Dave, who has terrible knees, sitting in the main square drinking beer. They too had not sought her permission to leave. They tried to hide behind their hats. You have to laugh. I was quite embarrassed by her comments as we have two Taiwanese/Australians in our group. I hope they were not offended by her comments.
Finally, we were released from our tour in the main square. We found a pharmacy to get some cough medicine (Yes, the Scenic boat people spread their germs to us) and then settled into a lovely spot on the square where we ordered beer and a sangria for me. Bill had some food stuffed with crab and we three had sirloin steak. The steak was very nice but the meat had a very different texture to our meat.
We had several discussions at this hotel reception about our inability to log on to the wi-fi and also our inability to phone Denise and Bill’s room. Tea and scotch and we were off to bed.