Seeing Salamanca

Our team recently travelled to Salamanca, Spain for a Euroleague game against Avenida, a team in our pool. We had a long travel day which started with us departing Bourges at 9 am by bus to head to the Orly Paris airport. When we arrived we had about an hour after checking in and security to sit down and eat before our flight. 

Seeing as it is December and Christmas is fast approaching, my teammates all decided that we would do a team Secret Santa. We picked names out of a hat, hung stockings or Christmas themed bags in our locker (see my WNBPA day in the life blog for more) and have been secretly buying small gifts for our secret person and putting them in their stockings. It's been exciting walking into the locker room checking your stocking to see if you have a treat, or seeing what gifts your teammates have received.

Now you're probably wondering what on earth this Secret Santa business has to do with our trip to Salamanca? Well, here's a little funny story for you: When we were boarding our flight from Paris to Madrid I was seated next to one of my teammates who was shorter than me, she had the aisle seat and I the middle seat. Thankfully, she didn't mind switching seats with me so that I would have more space in the aisle. About half way through our flight I must have dozed off because next thing I know I am being tapped awake by a flight attendant. Without saying a word, he hands me a small red envelope and continues about his business. This brief exchange garnered the attention of my two teammates seated beside me who were urging me to open the envelope. I turn it around to open it and I see a Christmas sticker on the other side. "It must be from your Secret Santa!" one of my teammates says. I open it and inside were three scratch tickets. That definitely earned my Secret Santa the award for most creative Santa for turning the game international and secretly delivering a gift on a plane by a flight attendant. My teammates and I were talking about what a great Secret Santa I had and, I must admit, I was feeling pretty special, but it didn't last long. Next thing I knew our team physiotherapist comes up the aisle, squats down besides me and asks, "did you receive a little red envelope?" I respond yes, with a smile on my face. She then responds, "The envelope was meant for your teammate, not you. Your Secret Santa didn't realize that you two had swapped seats!" Well, so much for that. I took the envelope out of my pocket and handed it to my teammate who was now filled with a little extra joy. All I could do was laugh at the situation, and applaud "her" Secret Santa for fixing the mess up. I might have been a little more upset if I found out I gave up jackpot winning scratch tickets... just kidding (maybe).

Once we landed, we had another two and a half hour bus ride from Madrid to Salamanca. Due to traffic we ended up being late for our 8:30 pm practice and didn't get on the floor until 9:15 pm. We made the best of the situation and utilized the remaining 45 minutes we had the court for. After practice we had a quick meal and all knocked out! The following evening we played and ended up losing to Salamanca.

We weren't scheduled to leave the hotel until 11:30 am on the morning following the game, so my teammate, Clarrisa and I decided to take advantage of the time in the morning to go and do a little exploring and see the sites of Salamanca. I especially wanted to see the Salamanca Cathedral. The night we arrived it was nicely lit in the darkness, and looked massive and absolutely beautiful. So, being the architecture junky I am, I had to see this magnificent structural building up close before I left. We were out of the hotel and exploring the streets of Salamanca by 8:45 am! 

 Plaza de la Libertad

Plaza de la Libertad

At 9:00 am we met up with one of the Salamanca players (who is also Clarissa’s teammate on the Chicago Sky) in Mayor Plaza, and she kindly showed us around. Mayor Plaza reminded me a lot of Venice, Italy's Piazza San Marco, but on a smaller scale. There were men setting up for what appeared to be a concert taking place later on that day.

 Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

 Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor

 I wonder who is performing...

I wonder who is performing...

While we were walking, we made our way to Old Town Salamanca where we were able to see the New Cathedral up close and personal. At first we just took pictures outside the cathedral and continued exploring the surrounding areas. However, we changed our minds and decided to venture inside and I am so glad we did! The fee to get into the cathedral was 4.75 euro, and included a hand held audio guide device that you listened to as you looked at each section and room of the cathedral.

 All the details outside the Cathedral, just beautiful.

All the details outside the Cathedral, just beautiful.

 Views inside the Cathedral.

Views inside the Cathedral.

 Some ceiling and wall art.

Some ceiling and wall art.

 Magnificent buildings!

Magnificent buildings!

After exploring the Cathedral we walked around the surrounding area, which we realized was actually part of Salamanca University!

 Walking through campus.

Walking through campus.

While exploring, we noticed that literally ever shop we came across had these frogs (see below)! We were trying to figure out what they represented, and we just came to the conclusion that they might be the University mascot. Well, as I did further research I learned that there is a legend attached to these frogs. There is a game people play called "find the frog" when they visit Salamanca University, where the goal is to find the stone carving of a frog on one the Universities building. If you are able to locate the carving, it is believed that you will find true love or marry within a year and have good luck! So next time I am back in Salamanca I'll be on the search for that frog!

And that sums up my Salamanca adventure. Have you visited Salamanca? Were you able to locate the frog? Does your city or University have any cool legends? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by and God bless,

-K