Salamanca is well known throughout Spain as "The Golden City" thanks to its honey-colored sandstone, magnificent architecture, elegant streets, and delicious cuisine. It is also home to the third-oldest university in Europe, after Oxford and Bologna, with an international student body and a building considered by many as one of the most beautiful universities in the world, due to its crafted façade. Just back from visiting her daughter there, Stephanie Feidelson takes us along on her whirlwind trip and entices us all to add this region of Spain to our travel lists.
When my daughter decided to go to Salamanca for the semester, my first thought was...where the hell is that? All her friends were going to Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville so yes I did question the choice of Salamanca. Now that I’ve just returned from visiting her midway through her program let me tell you, it’s a fantastic choice. Located in the northwest corner of Spain, it is a prestigious university town where one's child can truly immerse themselves in the Spanish culture and language.
We decided to spend ten days visiting her, and we had an incredible trip. We flew in and out of Madrid and loved the two different hotels we stayed in there. The first was Hotel Villa Magna, a larger luxury hotel, conveniently around the corner from the fabulous Ten Con Ten restaurant. On our way back through Madrid, we stayed at the boutique Hotel Unico. Though the rooms were smaller than at Villa Magna, Unico was in the thick of tons of cool shopping. Dinner at Sala de Despiece was awesome. No reservations, and once the small place is full, you are in for a good wait. Its very casual, with communal tables, fantastic tapas, and a cool young crowd. We felt like locals.
On to Salamanca. We stayed at the Hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban. When our younger daughter went to visit a week later, she stayed at Hotel Rector. Both places are beautiful and very different. San Esteban is part of the historical cathedral and friars can be seen roaming the shared property. It has the feeling of an old castle. Hotel Rector is more modern. You can’t go wrong with either place.
We took a two-day, one-night excursion to Caseres and stayed in Parador de Caseres. It was “fine,” but THE place to stay is Atrio. In fact, the restaurant there is well worth a special trip. We had a ten-course tasting meal that was pure art. Their wine cellar is nothing I have ever seen before, and their sommelier paired our meal with incredible wines. I would say this meal was one of the best, most beautiful I have ever had in my life! Why it is hiding in Caceres, I cannot tell you.
On to one of the most beautiful hotels and spas in Spain, Hotel Abadia Retuerta Le Domaine, housed in a 12th-century abbey. Located in Valladolid in the Ribero del Duero wine country it’s beautiful with incredible service. We spent two days visiting this lesser known wine region and saw small and large production wineries. One day devoted to wine and another to a spa day, what could be better?
While this is not the usual track of a visit to Spain, I have to say it was incredible and well worth the time, even if your kid is not in Salamanca!