Monthly Archives: July 2017

Salamanca: Old City of Castille and Leon

2017_071618_2307_593Salamanca. Let’s say it has always been on my mind ever since I learned that it is home to the country’s oldest university. For just like in the case of Alcala de Henares, also known as Spain’s university town, I yearned to check out and learn more about the place.

It was when I finally visited the place a few weeks ago that the town obviously come off as more than just a mecca for the learned, but so much more. Above anything else, it is a wondrous architectural paradise. I was entranced as I go about the town, even if I go to roam around for just a few hours.

Seriously, if there were something about the town that fascinated me the most, it was its cathedrals, both old and new. The two stand side by side, both flaunting their unique beauty that somehow complimented each other.  Witnessing the awesome beauty of these two works of art more than compensated my hours long trip.

I traveled 3 hours riding the normal autobus, and some 2 and a half on the express. Frankly, my total number of travel hours exceeded the length of time that I stayed in Salamanca.

But again, I have to say that it’s all worth it. The museums, the churches, the plazas, the restaurants and cafes, the souvenir shops, the monuments — everything that you want to see in a place is all here.

Here are some of the sites and attractions that you can see in Salamanca:

Plaza Mayor de Salamanca

2017_062610_3011_363The Plaza Mayor of Salamanca is know to be one of the most beautiful, if not downright the most beautiful of all of Spain. This sprawling spot in the midst of the city is the hot spot of all that involve Salamancan social life. A grand creation of Spanish architect Churriguera, the square is regarded as one that can rival the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, Spain’s premier plaza. On one side of the town square stands the edifice that houses the city hall of Salamanca. In this baroque style building is where the city functions and activities of the municipal government take place.

Porticoed arcade of the square

2017_071623_5001_811The four sides of the square are filled with establishments of all types — restaurants, ice cream kiosks, clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, among many others. Salamanca’s plaza  brims with life and vibrancy because of  all forms of human activities happening within– 365 days in a year

Casa de las Conchas

2017_071912_2339_250The House of Shells, built around the 1400s by Rodrigo Maldonado, used to be a palace that served as the residence of Catholic Monarchs. It was so-called because of the numerous shells jotting out of much of the edifice’s facade. It is said, but has yet to be proven, that a gold coin can be retrieved if the shell is removed from the wall.

Viejo Catedral

2017_062615_0200_855The construction of the Old Cathedral of the town, also known as the Cathedral of Santa María, started way back in the 12th century and was finished after more than 200 years. A project of then bishop Jerome de Perigord, it boasts of beautiful mix of Gothic and Romanesque style. Its patron saint is St Mary of the See. It may be small compared to the newer cathedral, but Viejo reeks in rich history.

Nuevo Catedral (the New Cathedral)

2017_062610_1729_358Salamanca boasts of two famous cathedrals, the Old and the New. The Old Cathedral, limited in space in the early 1500’s, and deemed to be unable to serve the burgeoning university town, was supplemented by a new one. The construction was a 200-year affair, with the edifice considered to be one of the last vestige of the Gothic style. The old catedral still stands to this day, although the original plan was to take it down once the Nuevo Catedral is finished.

Palacio de Monterrey

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The Monterrey Palace was the Plateresque-design edifice by the 3rd Count of Monterrey. Its current owner is the House of Alba, also the owner of the Monterrey country. It has been declared a National Historical Monument in May 1929

Salamanca’s Roman Bridge

2017_071912_2403_622One of the oldest roman bridges of Spain. Its span is ably supported by twenty-six arches, with more than half constructed by the Romans during the 1st century B.C.

Convent of San Sebastian

2017_071618_2032_237The Convent, also called the Church of San Esteban, was built in 1524 and completed in 1610. Like the Monterrey Palace, it also exhibits Plateresque-style, which is heavily evident in its facade. It is also called the Convent of the Dominicans because it is run by the said religious order.

Universidad de Salamanca

2017_062614_5400_919I went to Salamanca just so I can see the world famous University, known to be the oldest educational institution, having been founded in 1208. It also claims the title of the 3rd oldest university in Europe.

Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca

2017_062614_5751_692Another popular university is the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, which is of Catholic leanings. It was founded much later, at around 1940. It also has a campus in Madrid.

How I reached the city

By bus

Your trip to Salamanca starts by taking Line 6 and getting off at Mendez Alvaro. Here you’ll find Estacion Sur, the biggest bus station in Madid. There are 2 to 3 bus companies that offer trips to Salamanca, but I suggest that you take the Autores bus owned by Avanzabus Line. It has been my choice of commuting every time I travel out of town because it’s convenient, affordable, and even has pc tablet that offers movie and audio entertainment.

How much did I pay for the bus fare?

I opted an ida y vuelta ticket, hoping to pay less for the transportation fare. The guy at the ticket counter suggested that I buy an “abierta” return ticket — this required me to get a specific return time to Madrid once I arrive at the bus station at Salamanca. All in all, I just paid around 32 euros for my trip.

Indeed, a single day is good enough time to enjoy a wonderful, breathtaking place like Salamanca. For less than three hours, you will arrive in town before lunch time, go roam around the whole afternoon, have lunch and coffee at the plaza mayor, wander some more, take the bus home and arrive in Madrid late in the evening. Definitely, Salamanca is a perfect addition to your list of easy and enjoyable day trip destinations.

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7 Must-try Spanish Restaurants In and Around Madrid Centro

Centro Madrid, needless to say, is one of the Spanish meccas for tourists because it covers the districts and neighborhoods where found are some of the country’s most engaging sites and attractions. In the south, you’ll find Latina and Embajadores neighborhoods, while situated in the East are Recoletos and Colon. The Northern portion is bounded by Chamberi, among others, while Moncloa-Aravaca is located in the West. Within its confines are innumerable must-see attractions like museums, churches, plazas and monuments scattered around popular touristy areas such as Puerta del Sol, Gran Via, Atocha, to name a few.

Likewise, Centro Madrid is touted as a hot spot as far as iconic bars and restaurants are concerned. This is exactly what I love about this part of the city– it easily boasts of a great number of food establishments that serve all types of food imaginable. Of course, if you are a tourist, try as many of the typical Spanish fares as possible.

Below are 7 popular restaurants in and around Centro Madrid that you must dine at. Note that for every restaurant, I also recommend a top dish that you should try.

1. Museo del Jamon (Gran Via)

Museo del Jamon, Calle Mayor is one of the most popular in Sol, MadridFor great Spanish eats, a top choice is Museo del Jamon of Gran Via, Calle Mayor and other various locations. It is popular for serving a great variety of Spanish food fare at affordable prices. Traditional Spanish comida are found in menu here, and available in both tapas and raciones. Quick and cheap servings of tapas can be had on the bar on the ground floor. For instance, bocadillos of lacon, chorizo, queso, and jamon sell for 1 euro apiece. On the second floor is where sit-down dinners and multi-courses are served.

I recommend its mouth-watering Callos de Madrileno

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2. Cafe Melo’s Bar (Barrio of Lavapies)

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For those looking to savor zapatillas, check out what I personally think is the best in Madrid, the ones served at Café Melo’s Bar. Located at Lavapies, along Calle Ave Maria, it serves some of the tastiest and chunkiest zapatillas in town. It’s not only a huge delicacy, both in size and taste, but also reasonable in price.  One can relish its heaping lacon-and-cheese sandwich for only 11 euros. That’s for one whole order, and a bit over 6 euros for a half. Another must-dine at Melos is its croquetas — a delightful, crunchy ball with hot gooey cheese and ham bits in its inside.

Even a half-order of Zapatilla more than satisfies

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3. Bar Santurce (Plaza General Vara El Rey, La Latina)

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You must have visited El Rastro for its variety of inexpensive knick knacks and various other items, which are sold on shops and its network of streets. But I must say that your visit to this barrio is not complete if you have not dined at Bar Santurce and tasted its grilled sardines. Located along General Vara del Rey, customers, old and first-timers, would not mind the cramped, no-frills dining area as they are simply after its main offering, which is its tasty grilled fare. The dish is eaten best with pimiento de padron, a piece of bread, and ice-cold beer.

Opt for a tapa of Pimiento de Padron

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and of course, its grilled sardines

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4. El Brillantes (Plaza Emperador Carlos V, Atocha)

El Brillante at Plaza Emperador Carlos V MadridAtocha is known for being the site of one of Spain’s premier museums, Museo Reina Sofia. Within the barrio, you can also find Atocha Metro and RENFE stations, transport systems that will bring  from you anywhere in the city and all around Spain.

If you find yourself in Atocha, a good choice to pacify your hunger is at El Brillante, an iconic Spanish restaurant that takes pride in serving what according to it are the most delicious calamares sandwiches. In fact, it is not shy to post a sign that says Brillante’s bocadillo de calamar is the best in the whole of Madrid.

Where its Bocadillo de Calamares is a must-eat

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5. Casa Labra (Calle Tetuan, Plaza del Sol)

2017_050120_2843_549Casa Labra used to be a Tavern that right from the start had been serving unique cod croquettes to residents in this part of Madrid. With its location within the area of Puerta del Sol, and in front of the El Corte Department Store, the restaurant is proud of serving its highly in-demand cod croquette.

Savor its croquetas de Bacalao

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6. Chocolateria San Gines (Calle Arenal)

Especially if you’re a sweet tooth, your tour of Madrid is never complete without dropping by San Gines. Suffice it to say that this cafe bar has some of the most popular churros in town. Although I was misheard by the lady at the counter and got me some borras instead, which were too much for me to finish. Had a hot cup of choco, which surprisingly wasn’t that sweet like I thought it .
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While others like churros, i love its porras more

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7. Mercado San Miguel (Plaza de Sn Miguel, near Plaza Mayor)

The most popular market of its kind, where hundreds of food kiosks are lumped under one roof selling various fares such as mariscos, dulces, vinos y cervesas, chicharrones, and even paellas. If you’re one big tapa lover, you must head to this market of hundred tapa bars just outside Plaza Mayor. You will be bewildered by the seemingly endless tapa choices, each of which is sure to satisfy your craving.
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Have a taste of chicharrones, among numerous other delightful tapas

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Museo Nacional de Antropologia: Madrid´s Museum of Anthropology (and Curiosities)

received_1415553321845939The National Museum of Anthropology (Spanish: Museo Nacional de Antropología) is a national museum of Spain located in the middle of Madrid near the Parque del Buen Retiro and opposite Atocha railway and metro station. Formally inaugurated on 29 of April in 1875 during the reign of King Alfonso XII, it is considered the oldest anthropology museum in Spain. Many historians, thus, consider the museum as a major historical jewel.

First floor devoted to a former colony

Called the Asia hall, this floor is found in the ground level of the edifice, where presented are cultural and anthropological artifacts and relics from the Philippines. Many of the items are known to be derived from the 1885 exposition held at Parque del Retiro.

Incidentally, in relation to the 1885 exposition, I was fortunate to have been invited to the latest exhibit about this Spanish colony, known as the “Imagenes de Una Exposicion Filipinas e El Parque del Retiro, En 1887.”

Attended by no less than the Philippine Ambassador to Madrid, His Excellency Philippe J. Lhuillier, the exbihit  a rich display of photos, artwork, and other museum items on old Philippines.

The said event were also attended by the members of the Filipino community in Spain, as well as the officers and staff members of the Embassy. Indeed, Philippines is in an enviable position for having been allotted a premier spot at one of Madrid’s most prestigious museums.

received_1415554145179190Shelves in which are displayed some of the Old Philippines’ ancient wares such as clay jars, pots, pans, and miniature huts

received_1415553658512572Visitors marvel at a variety of photographs that tells about the Philippines of yesteryears. Much of the photo’s themes are set in the country’s olden era

received_1415554015179203His Excellency Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier was there to grace the exhibit and gave a speech to an appreciative crowd.

received_1415553745179230The exhibit on the Philippines was organized by the Museo and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain. It also featured photographs on the Philippine Exposition 1887 held at the Parque del Retiro.

received_1415554418512496My colleagues and I attended the affair dressed to the nines, donned in our best traditional Philippine clothing – the Barong Tagalog

Anthropological and Cultural Displays from all over

What else can we see at the Anthropology Museum of Madrid? Currently, the museum boasts of a variety of items, not just from the Philippines and Asia but also from other parts of the world, like the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Everyone is invited to visit the museum and see for themselves the rich historical and anthropological items that come from all over the world.

How to Go:

Metro: Atocha, Atocha Renfe (Line 1)
Autobus: 27, 10, 32, 10, Circular

Price of Entry

3 euros0

Discounted Price:

1.50 euros

Free entry

There are certain times and days visitors don’t need to pay to enter, such as the evening of Saturdays, Sundays, April 18, May 18, October 18

Times Open

Tue – Sat 9:30AM-8:00PM

Days the Museum is Closed

January 1 & 6; May 1; December 24, 25 & 31

Museo Antrofologia de Madrid