Wandering around kilometers, for most of the day.
I had arrived at the halfway mark of my journey the previous day (five hundred out of one thousand kilometers), and I thought that taking a day off to see the beautiful city of Salamanca was an excellent idea. Also, I planned to get some laundry done, do a little shopping for the trek on the following day, and explore the city of nearly a quarter-million people. There were more churches, cathedrals, palaces, and Roman bridges to be explored.
First order of business was easy: walk around the corner from where I was staying to a churreria I had noticed the evening before. It was a little box stand that sold churros (a fried doughy breakfast snack), hot chocolate, and other snacks. A husband and wife ran the place; he cooked, and she made drinks and handled the cash.
The churros were super hot, just out of the boiling oil, and lightly covered with sugar. The hot chocolate was thick; it clung to the churro after dipping. You must dip a churro. Something I would never eat at home, but when in Spain and burning four thousand to six thousand calories per day, what the heck, I would live a little.
I’d have done more there in Salamanca, but it was All Saints’ Day, a Spanish national holiday. Most businesses were closed; those included markets, hair stylists, and barbers. Oh well. A peregrino (pilgrim) needs for so very little (’cause he’d have to carry it with him).
Resting was hard work, too. It was difficult for me just to be at a Roman bridge munching on hot churros draped in rich chocolate. It was also hard to sip tea while writing and making plans for the rest of my walk, as I sat in a quiet café and gazed across the street at a church that was hundreds of years old. With too much time to ponder, the mind wandered, the attitude became maudlin, and I started feeling homesick. I wanted Santiago to be much closer.
However, the next day, I would start off again. I’d ponder other things on the trail. Maybe I’d be inspired to write something worthy of the effort—something that would help me to further understand my earthly purpose.
On my way back to my hotel room, following my day as a tourist, I made the climb to the Parador Hotel, which looked out over the river and toward the old city, to have a glass of Albariño (a Spanish white wine). Great view of the city from the patio, and the wine was not bad, or terribly expensive. For more about the chain of Parador Hotels, click here.
Costs: €57 for the hotel room, €2.50 for churros and hot chocolate, €3 for tea, €8.50 for dinner, and €2.50 for a glass of wine at the Parador Hotel.