The biggest peril of living in Madrid is that for some ungodly reason (airplane politics) flying in and out is surprisingly expensive.
Before the move, I figured Madrid to be a convenient hub for weekend trips and last-minute excursions but that assumption couldn’t be further from reality.
Hence why traveling has been a rare occurence for me since living here.
We’ve had to stay inward, simply pottering to towns just outside of Madrid, ideally, ones that are covered on our monthly abono metro card passes.
And as there are many, many public holidays in Madrid, this can sometimes be a little depressing.
But last weekend, for the long weekend, we went to the beautiful city of Salamanca, only a couple of hours train ride from the center of Madrid.
Being a last-minute booking, there wasn’t any Air Bnbs or hostels, so we settled on a mediocre hotel at €100 a night because it was a peak weekend.
The trains were €50 return each, so we recluctantly accepted our much needed night away would come to €100 each, trains and accomodation combined.
To be clear, anything between 24 and 48 hours is enough in the student based city, especially if you’re budget thinking.
We arrived at 2 pm, opting for walking in the rain from the train station to avoid getting a bus. Famished and drenched, we opted for the first place that had any form of warmth and food.
And that so happened to be the lovely Cafetin Scherzo, located on Salamancas Gran Via.
The cozy pub with marble tales and sofa-benches was the first welcoming atmosphere we had seen on the surprisingly quiet street.
Though they have no menu, they do have an array of tapas and sandwiches and we went straight for the Bocadillo Tortilla, which was a treat.
Two cañas and two small but filling sandwiches later, we had a kind €5.50 bill to settle up. We’re not in Madrid anymore!
On we walked to the Plaza Mayor, the oldest square in Spain. It had stopped raining but the book exhibition taking center in the square distracted us slightly from its beauty.
Still peckish after our 2.5-hour train ride, we decided it only fitting to try Salamancas famed Hornazo.
Hornazo, is essentially a crisp pie pastry filled with tomatoes and pork loin or Spanish chorizo or hard-boiled eggs.
We picked ours up in Plaza Mayor itself, at a place called Confiteria Santa Lucia. Even in the heart of Salamanca, this extremely filling and convenient eat was just €1.80.
After the Plaza, we headed to the beautiful cathedral, awash with the shock at the simplicity of the honey-colored buildings, the intricate carvings and the carefully painted street and shop names upon them.
The cathedral was exquisite, and I took serious joy upon finding the special astronaut carved amongst the other delicate molds around the arch of its doorway.
Having enjoyed the improper astronaut, we headed to check out one of the university buildings, which had similar carvings, with a little frog hidden on the head of one of the many skulls.
A crowd was gathered, and I spent quite a while searching, following everyone’s sightline, trying to place the frog from the zoom on their cameras.
Eventually, after admitting defeat and putting my glasses on, I saw it, and it was no surprise why it had taken me so long. Unless you know to look at the skull, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the so-called frog was a lump on a misshapen skull.
Following this ordeal, we headed to the Casa de las Conchas, and then to the Convento de San Esteban.
We decided then it was time to head to check in to our hotel, and were luckily able to squeeze in a trip across the Roman Bridge of Salamanca to get there.
After a recharge and a beer from our mini-bar (€1.50) we headed out again. It was cold and windy now, but we decided to make the most of the weather before it turned truly bitter.
We sat outside on one of the many terraces of Plaza Mayor, in Cafeteria Las Torres and enjoyed a large beer and some patatas bravas for another bargain of (€6.50).
Now if you’re here for the budgeting you might want to look away now, because where we went for dinner was above our normal price range but we decided to treat oursleves.
Zazu Bistro, is centrally located and super cozy, decorated intimately and quaintly. The hidden gem was a stellar find by me (if I do say so myself), and I had booked a table the night before, just in case.
Though this was above our normal budget, it was a very good deal. We had a fancy bottle of wine, a starter to share, a main each, a dessert to share, and left feeling pleasantly boozy with full tummies and only parted with €60 all up.
I don’t eat fancy often, but I’d argue this rather reasonable.
After dinner, we headed to Calle La Latina, dotted with a few bars and a quiet student atmosphere, and settled in for a game of cards.
The cañas here cost €1.30 a pop, so you can imagine we stayed a while.
The next day, waking up late and checking out, we headed for a coffee in the aptly named cafe, Salamanca Coffee, and sat outside on the busy street, watching the world go by.
By 1 PM, I was, as to be expected, ravenous. So we headed around the corner to the small little bar Cuzco Bodega, and boy were we happy.
Arriving only 10 minutes after opening, the place was full and buzzing, andyet stragglers continued to stream in and squeeze a place on the bar.
We settled for a high table by the door with no chairs, happy enough to have a table because we knew we were in for a treat.
This place specializes in tapas, and their small menu makes it simple and easy. We ordered four, and counting the complimentary bread, we left full and in need of a siesta.
To summarise; we ate a mini burrito, a mini burger, a jammon and carmelized onion sandwich and finally, my favorite, a hunk of goats cheese with a cracker base and caramelized onion on top. Yum.
Our heads were a little too sore for alcohol, but having their own vineyard, I was nearly swayed toward a glass of the liquid gold. All in all, our bill came to a kind €11.50, and we left very happily.
24 hours was enough time for me in Salamanca, but I’d happily go back for the lively atmosphere, and of course, the titillating food.