We took a longer day trip to Salamanca, 200km from Madrid, near the Portuguese border, about a 2 hour journey each way, which still left plenty of time for sight-seeing. The Salamanca station is a fair way from the old city, so a taxi to Plaza Mayor was the only sensible thing to do. (Have I mentioned that taxis are really cheap in Spain?)
Salamanca was originally a Celtic town, for centuries BC. Then the Romans were there for a spell. The city was officially founded in the early 1100s and has been renowned as a centre of learning virtually ever since. The university, founded in 1218, is the third oldest western university, and has about 30,000 students.
Franco established Salamanca as the de facto Nationalist capital during the Civil War, and the (Nazi) German and (Fascist) Italian delegations were also there.
When we walked into the famous Plaza Mayor, we were immediately confronted by a life-size sculpture of an elephant balanced on its trunk! We sat in the plaza, had a second breakfast and planned an itinerary for a walk around the town.
There’s an intimidating amount to be seen! The Old Cathedral is magnificent. The New Cathedral (Convento de San Esteban) is mightily impressive too, at least from the outside (it was closed). The entrance facade is intricately sculpted, like a massive stone altar-piece.
I must confess that we were a little fatigued on the day. It was hot, and quite a few places of interest were closed. I can vouch for the excellence of the food and the beer in Salamanca however!
On the way back, we passed through a storm, (at about 180km per hour) which was a thing of beauty, seen against the rolling green hills. Back in Madrid, a few Metro stops brought us back to our apartment in Chueca and, not needing dinner, we relaxed with a couple of craft beers and tapas just across the road, at Bee Beer (recommended!)