Tapas Make Everything Better! Even Mondays!

Today we were back to our weekday schedule, with class in the morning followed by lunch, a lecture, and a visit to one of Salamanca’s museums. Even though none of us were up very late, we were still pretty tired from yesterday’s excursion to Madrid, which made for a long morning. I ended up having to buy a second cup of coffee between classes! With our final exam scheduled for a week from today, none of us exactly felt like dozing off in class, so we managed to power through.

The lecture on Spanish history this afternoon wasn’t required, but many of us chose to go anyway. Carlos, who is basically our favorite person at this point, gave an overview of everything important that’s happened in Spain from before the Roman Empire's occupation to the present day. That’s a span of time of about 2000 years, so a lot of information was thrown at us. It was a great lecture though, as everything we learned was placed in the context of Spanish language and culture as it exists today.

After the lecture, we visited the University of Salamanca (the oldest university in Spain, and the fourth oldest in the world!) where classes have been held for more than 750 years. While the University has a new location, the old building is now a beautiful museum. We spent about two hours looking at pretty ceilings and learning about the school’s ancient pedagogy and traditions. It smelled like old books and kind of looked like Hogwarts.

After the museum visit, we all took another Tapas Tour. This was another not required event, but everything tasted so good when we went last week that we chose to go again! We visited two familiar restaurants as well as a couple new ones. One of them we went to used to be a horse stable a while back, and the inside resembles a brick wine cellar. Pretty sweet, to say the least! Carlos told us that when he was a student at the University of Salamanca, he would occasionally come to this restaurant to avoid a class led by a mediocre professor. For us, there was no better way to end the night than by sharing delicious food with great people!

A typical classroom setup at the University of Salamanca. This one is entirely original to the 1500s - "desks," benches, and everything. When it was first used there was no heat and only a few gas lamps in the room, however. Carlos said the bad lighting wasn't actually very problematic, since during the early days writing things down had a lesser importance than listening to the professor talk. Not having heat still have been bad though...
A modernized lecture hall at the University. It's amazing how some of these old rooms are still used today - this one is over 400 years old and still used!
This lone tree in the old University building courtyard has been living here for over 300 years. What's interesting is that it's a California redwood...
A customary photo of Carlos charismatically describing some old stuff.
The chapel in the University's old building - apparently some students get married here.
The University's old library. The only people allowed in these days are the librarians, so we had to take pictures through the glass.
All of us sitting on the library steps. Not the most flattering with flash, but oh well.
This picture looks lame, but there's a story behind it. Carlos told us that when this University building was built, there were no bathrooms. Since the school was all men, everyone used this spot to pee, even though it's on the second floor and there's no drain in sight. After a while, the University had two saints painted on the wall to deter all the people from peeing. The students simply thought it was stupid though, so they chipped away at the paintings and continued using the spot until a bathroom was added years later.
At La Caballeriza, our first stop on our Tapas Tour, we had churizo, a type of aged pork super common to this region of Spain (Castile and León is the region we're in, in case you're wondering).
All of us (minus Evie) at our first stop on our Tapas Tour. This restaurant is called La Caballeriza (The Stable), as it used to be used for horses 60+ years ago.
Our final stop on the Tapas Tour, at a restaurant called Don Mauro right off the Plaza Mayor (Main Square). Corrina, Matt and Andrew didn't fit in the picture - sorry! Joining us for the first time was a student named Aleixi from Moscow, Russia - he's the guy between Corrina's two fingers in the foreground.