Recently, a group of excited Langton students from years 10-13 set out on an adventure to visit Salamanca, located in the northwest of Spain. After setting off early on Sunday 14th January, we spent a week exploring the captivating culture, architecture and history behind this beautiful city. Upon arrival, we met our welcoming host families who took us in and expressed immense generosity and hospitality throughout the week. After what can certainly be known as one of the best weeks of our lives, here are the highlights! 

Historical landmarks: 

This city is packed with history around every corner, each building has its own story to tell. The intricate architectural design of the University of Salamanca, one of the oldest standing universities in Europe was something to marvel at. We explored its courtyards and halls, following our Spanish guide who shared her knowledge of each destination we visited. The twisting stone streets led us towards La Casa de las Conchas, displaying 300 scallop-shaped shells clinging to its outer wall. Our next destination had all our necks aching as we stood in awe staring at the domed ceiling masked in faded paintings mapping the constellations in the night sky above Salamanca.  

The famous Plaza Mayor, a Baroque masterpiece, became the central meeting place for our activities and excursions throughout the week. This beautiful plaza tied together each of the winding roads providing a large open space filled with shops, restaurants, and a constantly moving crowd of locals. There was constant excitement surrounding us as we walked beneath the looping arches, peaking into each shop window displaying classic pastries and sweet treats or even hanging meats and cheeses. 

Astounding Architecture:  

The most enjoyable visit of the trip was climbing up the iconic cathedral of Salamanca. The Cathedral is a remarkable fusion of Gothic and Renaissance style, belittling the city beneath it. Ascending the narrow stone staircase, you could hear each step resonate against the cold walls. Reaching the summit, we were greeted with a breathtaking panorama of Salamanca unfolding before us. Red roof tops and ancient spires hugged tightly to the meandering river. The harsh breeze washed away any warmth the sun provided that day, but we were lucky to have blue skies and an uninterrupted view of the landscape below. 

Immersing in the culture:

The juxtaposition of the ancient buildings and a constant buzzing atmosphere highlighted the vibrant night life as we walked down the crowded streets. The streets felt as though they had been frozen in time, captivating centuries of marveling architecture but, somehow seamlessly blending into the rich contemporary culture of Salamanca. 

Having the opportunity to experience a different way of life opened our eyes to the true unity behind this community - young children stayed out late playing with their friends in the street whilst families dined together in restaurants as the sky darkened. Coming home to England, I know the period of rest the Siesta provided during the afternoon will be deeply missed! 

Benefits of the trip: 

We attended Colegio Delibes - an international school - for 4 hours each day, learning both grammar and communication skills. This proved to be very daunting to begin with as the teachers only spoke in Spanish! However, it did improve our listening skills and encouraged us to talk to each other in Spanish too.  

We were surprised at how easy it was to apply the Spanish we learnt in school to a real life setting and allowed us to chat and converse with our host families over meals and in our free time - I could feel a real connection building between us over the week. Each of us became confident in speaking to shop owners and waiters in restaurants and we certainly felt this improve during our time in the town as we explored the local shops and restaurants. 

To conclude, our trip was not merely a geographical exploration; it was an exhilarating journey immersing us in the very soul of Salamanca. The host families added a layer of depth to our trip as we exchanged knowledge and traditions over laughs around the dinner table. Each night we slept wrapped in the comfort of our experiences in this vibrant city, dreaming of the historical wonders we discovered each day. We bid farewell to Salamanca, safe in the knowledge that we were not only carrying a suitcase of souvenirs, but a mosaic of memories to last a lifetime.