SPAIN: Visiting the cities of Avila, Salamanca and Valladolid in the Spanish region Castilla-León is a cultural tour in historical surroundings. You are never far from a cathedral, church or a tapas bar. But there is always new trends showing up inside the stony walls.
The food. Gastronomy in this region is based on local and fresh products. Roasted meat, trout, chickpea stew, potatoes and goat cheese. From Iberian pig the cured ham is a salted leg, which has been cured for many years in the mountains. A common feature is the roast suckling pig (Cochnillo) or goat (cabrito). The region is also known for the Armuna lentil. Among sweets Chochos, with anisette, are outstanding.
Salamanca in the region of Castilla-León is a medium size city famous for its student’s atmosphere and the third oldest University in Europe. It is also one of Spain’s most ancient cities. Your sightseeing should include a visit to the facade of the University and try to find the ”frog”, supposed to bring good luck to those who find it among the rich decoration of the carved façade.
Salamanca is like walking in city of the Middle Ages, a bustling city with sparkling cafes, lively and calm at the same time.
Meet the locals. The best place for a glass of wine and tapas is around Plaza Mayor where people meet for lunch or for going out partying at night. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Spain and at night.
Salamanca is the city of students and there are number of cheap places to drink, specific around Plaza del Mercado. Try Mindo, normally full of market traders, or the popular La Bellota Charra.
Lunch and dinner. Many of the most popular restaurants are in or around Calle Pozo Amarillo. The best, by no means the cheapest, use to be Restaurante el Candil at 14-16 Calle Ventura Ruiz Aguilera. In Salamanca you are never far from a tapas bar.
Avila is called the town of stones and saints. This city has the biggest enlighten city walls in the world and the highest number of Gothic churches, bars and restaurants per capita in Spain.
Behind the city walls with a large number of churches and palaces that witness the past wealth. The symbol of the city is the wall, one of the best preserved walled sites in Europe – with 2,500 battlements, 100 towers, 6 doors and 3 secondary entrances.
Saint Teresa. You will witness her across the city of Avila. Saint Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582) was a writer and reformer, a mystic, influential and fundamental figure of her generation. She wrote what is considered her greatest work: Castillo interior / Interior Castle, describing the various stages of spiritual evolution leading to full prayer.
Stay. Hotel Parador de Avila is an old palace made into hotel and the alternative for a nice stay in the historic centre. The garden stands out, as does the rooms, the restaurant and the glazed patio. Staying here you get the home feeling as well as a bit of exclusivity. Room rate starts on 80 euro.
Lunch and dinner. Alcaravea, at Plaza de la Catedral, serves delicious food and is located next to our hotel.
Parador de Avila, at Calle Marques de Canales, offers a view of the garden. Don’t forget to order the famous dessert St. Teresa with local honey. This one will make your meal as sweet as you could ever imagine. The excellent food includes roast suckling pig and lamb and a famous T-bone steak.
Known by its class, sophistication and architectural diversity, Valladolid is located right in the heart of the region less than two hours by car from Madrid. It has a network of roads, international airport and plenty of artistic and cultural activities.
Valladolid has a climate with cold winters and hot summers in not a very rainy region in Spain.
Places to visit. Valladolid is the capital of the region and has some main places to visit. National Sculpture Museum has a wonderful collection of Spanish sculptures. The museum is closed on Mondays. Patio Herreriano is Museum of Contemporary Art. It displays a collection of 800 pieces of Spanish art from 1918 to the present.
Stay. Hotel El Coloquio de Los Perros, hotelelcoloquio.es, is a centrally located design hotel combining new design with old brick walls.
Aperitif and tapas. For fabulous cheese, various salami and ham, try tapas and local wine at Senorita Malauva, Address: Calle Arribas 2, Valladolid. www: vinotecamalauva.es
Interesting Events. The International Film Festival takes place in October. Also the Easter Processions (Semana Santa) are impressive. Other events include the International Dance and Theatre Festival in May.
Cooking is almost a cult and visitors should witness one of the many food conferences, which can be dedicated to lamb, to pork or wild mushrooms. To accompany the variety of food, don’t forget to taste wine from the province, such as Ribera del Duero, Cigales and Toro.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Madrid’s Barajas is the international airport around two hours drive away from Salamanca. There are trains from Madrid’s Chamartin station and regular buses. Ryanair, Lagunair, Iberia and Air France serve the airport of Valladolid. Salamanca-Matacab Airport (SLM) is around 15 km from the city. The distance between Madrid and Salamanca is 200 km
Stay: Salamanca: Hotel Eurostars Las Claras - Avila: Palacio de los Velada - Valladolid: Hotel el Coloquio
Eat: Salamanca: Doze, Address: Isla de la Rua 3. A great Mediterranean restaurant. Avila: Restaurante Alcaravea, Address: Plaza de la Catedral. Valladolid: Senorita Malauva, Address: Calle Arribas 2, great for tapas and wine.
Play: In Spain the party goes on until after the sun comes up. The locals start the evening with a late dinner before heading on to bars and discos. In Salamanca nightlife is one of the main charm of the city.
Mini Guide: Valladolid has plaid a leading role in Spanish history and has twice been the capital. Easter week is one of the most spectacular and emotional fiestas. Religious devotion, art colour and music combined in acts to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. The airport Villanubla is located 10km from the city of Valladolid. The rosè wine from Castilla-Leon is the most appreciated wine of the Cigales. Wine from Bierzo or Ribera del Duero is mainly red. Rueda wines are white, with a yellow colour and generally young. Ribera del Duero is one of the best wine-producing regions in the world.