14. Sep, 2021


TUESDAY 14-09-21

My word what a lot of rain we had last night. It was really heavy at times, and The Chef informed me that on top of that I snored my way through the thunderstorms. At about 04:00 an opportunity arose to move the vehicle further uphill away from the river which I did, plus it got us off the corner parking position.

Today has been yet more rain, I think we have two days of it forecast. We stayed  indoors all morning before deciding to have a wander over to the nearby Lidl store to see how we got on. It went ok and so we decided that we just couldn't stay indoors all day and would set off for the historical town centre this afternoon.

We kept things to a minimum in case we get soaked through. I wore an old shirt and a pair of lightweight trousers, both of which are overdue for the wash, my swimming shorts, a light fleece and waterproof mac and leggings. On my feet I wore my leather sandals, preferring to get them wet rather than my leather shoes.

Before setting out we watched in horror as an idiot Frenchman tried to manoeuvre his motorhome in to a space opposite us. He was missing us, and especially the vehicle behind us by a fag packet. In the end he asked us to move forward so that he had the space to straighten up before reversing in to his space. I just hope we are gone tomorrow before he attempts to get out of that space.

So a little about Salamanca:

Salamanca, in north-western Spain, is the capital of Salamanca province, part of the Castile and León region. With a history dating back to the Celtic era, it’s known for its ornate sandstone architecture and for the Universidad de Salamanca. Founded in the 1100s and a key intellectual centre in the 15th-16th centuries, the university continues to add to the city’s vibrancy with its international student population.    

One of the most important moments in Salamanca's history was the year 1218, when Alfonso IX of León granted a royal charter to the University of Salamanca, although formal teaching had existed at least since 1130. Soon it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centres in Europe.

The 15th century was plagued by social conflict and tensions among the urban elites (a complex development, often oversimplified as an infighting between bandos), with occasional outbursts of grave episodes of violence, conveying a chronic feeling of insecurity.

The late 15th century population has been tentatively estimated at 15,000–25,000. By the turn of the 16th century most of the population dwelled at the right (north) bank of the River Tormes, with a small arrabal in the south bank inhabited by roughly 300 people.

During the 16th century, the city reached its height of splendour (around 6,500 students and a total population of 24,000). During that period, the University of Salamanca hosted the most important intellectuals of the time; these groups of mostly Dominican scholars were designated the School of Salamanca. The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, and founded the fundamental body of the ulterior European law and morality concepts, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life), economic rights (right to own property) and spiritual rights (rights to freedom of thought and rights related to intrinsic human dignity).

In 1551, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ordered an inquiry to find out if the science of Andreas Vesalius, physician and anatomist, was in line with Catholic doctrine. Vesalius came to Salamanca that same year to appear before the board and was acquitted.

Salamanca suffered the general downturns of the Kingdom of Castile during the 17th century, but in the 18th century it experienced a rebirth. In this period, the new baroque cathedral and main square, Plaza Mayor, were finished.

In the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of Salamanca took place on 22 July 1812 in the nearby fields of  Arapiles, in which an Anglo-Portuguese army led by the Duke of Wellington decisively defeated the French army of Marmont. The western quarter of Salamanca was seriously damaged by cannon fire. The battle which raged that day is famous as a defining moment in military history and thirteen thousand men were killed or wounded in the space of only a few short hours.

During the devastating Spanish Civil War (1936–39) the city quickly went over to the Nationalist side and was temporarily used as the de facto headquarters for the rebel faction. Francisco Franco was proclaimed Generalissimo on 21 September 1936 while at the city. The Nationalists soon moved most of the administrative premises to Burgos, which, being more central, was better suited for this purpose. However, some administrative apparatus, Franco's headquarters (located at the Palacio Episcopal, next to the Old Cathedral) and the military commands stayed in Salamanca, along with the German and Italian fascist delegations, making it the de facto Nationalist capital and centre of power during the entire civil war. Like much of fervently Catholic and largely rural León and Old Castile regions, Salamanca was a staunch supporter of the Nationalist side and Francisco Franco’s regime for its long duration.

In 1988, the old city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1998, it was declared a European Capital of Culture for year 2002 (shared with Bruges). During 14 and 15 October 2005, it hosted the XV Ibero-American Summits of Heads of State and Governments.

Since 1996, Salamanca has been the designated site of the archives of the Spanish Civil War (Archivo General de la Guerra Civil Española). The original documents were assembled by the Francoist regime, selectively obtained from the administrative departments of various institutions and organizations during the Spanish Civil War as a repressive instrument used against opposition groups and individuals. The socialist government moved the Catalan part of the archive to Barcelona in 2006 despite opposition from the local authorities and popular protests.

We set off at about 13:00 and were soon in town given the very convenient location of the Camperstop. Yes it was still raining but it was bearable. The Chef had armed herself with my folding umbrella which I carry to enable me to use the camera in the wet without getting rain on the lens, but today I donated it to a greater cause as Rosina can't see forward properly when she has the hood up on her waterproof mac.

I have to say the historical old city is very nice indeed and stuffed with churches, cathedrals, and grand buildings, but it was wet, and these places just don't look as good in the miserable rain. Besides I think I've about had enough of old buildings and churches now. Call me a philistine is you like, but to me they all look much the same, though I can look at a building and appreciate its beauty without knowing anything about it. Likewise a painting. If I like it then it doesn't matter if it was painted by John Constable or Rin Tin Tin.

After a couple of hours or so of wandering round we decided to call it a day. Not because we had necessarily seen everything but because we will return tomorrow morning, not because we want to necessarily but because it is due to be wet again tomorrow and there's no point in our going to the local campsite until the weather picks up.

On our return I erected the wooden drying rail in the bathroom and we had everything in there hung up, hooked, or sat on the shower tray. Then it was on with the hot air heating system to try and dry bits out.

I think maybe tomorrow's plan will be to go back in to town in the morning, pick up a McDonald's lunch on the way back, then over to the shops for a top up before setting off to the campsite - but then again we may spend another night here but I see nothing to be gained by it.

The Chef tells me that London and the East of England have suffered rain and flooding, so we have no right to complain about our situation right now I suppose.

I think this evening we will finally get to watch a DVD or two, as reading and doing puzzles can get rather boring. Roll on the sunshine, after all this is supposed to be sunny Spain.