Thursday, September 20, 2012

SPAIN: Valladolid

Munson car blissWe rolled out of Portugal early enough to miss the worst rush-hour traffic and had a relatively uneventful drive to the Spanish border, which we hit about 1pm. I think it was 1pm, but as we were relying solely on our iPhones for time information, and they may or may not have changed over timezones, it was hard to say. We were three further hours into Spanish territory before they woke up to the fact that they were no longer registered on Portuguese cell networks. I’m thinking that Apple, Google, Microsoft et al should just pay me to drive around Europe and tell them what doesn’t work when you cross borders.

Munson at least had no such concerns, and was happy just to poke his head out of the window and enjoy his magic carpet ride of new scents.Valladolid (3) - Cathedral & Plaza Mayor

We intersected with our journey south at Salamanca, continuing on to Valladolid (pronounced Vah-yah-tho-leeth) for our final night’s stay away from home. It’s probably less well known outside Spain than its fellow Castilian cities: Salamanca with its university, Segovia for its magnificent cathedral, and the walled city of Avila, yet is in fact the capital of this autonomous community of Castile and León. This is the largest of all Spain’s “states”, built from the old kingdoms that united during the Reconquista period of the middle-ages when the Iberian peninsula was taken back from the Moors.
Iglesia de San Benito el Real Iglesia de San Benito el Real (2)
For some reason when I stayed in Salamanca years ago, I had a vision of Valladolid as some dusty old town and I never thought to visit it. On entering the town, I found almost the exact opposite: what appeared to be a gracefully, attractive and thriving city. I also found the people I met that day to be much friendlier than the haughtier folk of Salamanca. The more I walked around, the more I wished that I had stayed there instead and just visited Salamanca for a day trip.
Valladolid (1)
Cervantes lived here at the beginning of the 17th century and finished his great novel Don Quixote during this time. An older contemporary of Shakespeare, they died one day apart in 1616.

Christopher Colombus died here in 1506, although his remains were transferred to Seville then to the Dominican Republic, then to Cuba, and finally back to Seville Cathedral nearly 400 years later. In recent years I have unintentionally retraced most of his major European haunts, beginning with his birthplace of Genoa; Salamanca where he was encouraged to proceed with his voyages; Lisbon where he later lived; Cadiz, from where he set out on his second voyage; Seville, where he was (twice) interred; and now Valladolid.

Munson auditions with Don Quixote to be Rocinante's replacement  River Pisuerga
The river Pisuerga runs through the centre of the city, and appears to not only to be popular for boating and fishing, but there’s a sandy beach within a few hundred metres of the Plaza Mayor.

Munson under bridge

Valladolid (2) - by the river

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