I left Segovia late in the afternoon of September 7th, to drive to Salamanca, where I had reserved a room. It's another small city, about two hours west of Segovia and nearing the Portuguese border. Don't confuse the city of Salamanca with the Salamanca district of Madrid. Very different places.

Salamanca is a University town, the University of Salamanca dates from 1130 AD and claims to be the third oldest university in the world still in operation. I ended up parking in one of their parking garages and walking through the campus into the city center.

This is probably a good point to explain that most, if not all of the old (medieval and later) buildings that still exist in these old cities have been extensively renovated, probably more than once. The insides are torn out, leaving more or less intact, the original facade. New, modern facilities are built inside the old walls. I got a brief glance of the interior of one of the University of Salmanica's buildings when I asked to use their facilities to relieve myself. The interior was much more modern than the buildings where I took my engineering courses (in Worcester, MA) 60 years ago. (Those buildings have all been modernized now also). So the byword for most of the medieval cities is 'Adaptive Reuse'. People who think nothing of tearing down historic buildings here should consider that.

I arrived at Salmanica's Cathedral, conveniently, just as the parishioners were arriving for Sunday Mass. (Don't forget, almost all of these old cathedrals are functioning churches, with a regular schedule of services). This gave me an opportunity to hear (and briefly record) the magnificent church organ. And the Cathedral is so large that there was plenty of room for tourists like me to wander around without interrupting the services.

It turned out there were two special events at the Cathedral that day. There was a brass band playing at the entry where a well dressed couple arrived (and after the services attended a reception on the patio behind the Cathedral). I never found out what the event was or who the special guests were. Also there was some kind of an ongoing event for children beside the Cathedral, with a wall of flowers.

The next place I spent time at was the large central plaza, the Plaza Mayor. It was apparent there was some event happening there as well. It turned out that this was the first day of one of Salamanca's major festivals, I later found out to be La Feria de Salamanca. It had evolved from a medieval agricultural fair to become a major festival. It is quite possible that the special events I witnessed at the Cathedral were part of the festival. There was a stage in the plaza, complete with TV cameras, but no activities. But soon the tower bells in the City Hall began clamoring, and someone, I believe the mayor, appeared on a balcony of the City Hall and addressed the gathering crowd (in Spanish, so I had no idea what he was saying...)

Shortly thereafter there is a roar in the street as hundreds of motorcycles parade into the plaza, circle the plaza and eventually park. The Mayor(?) again appears and addresses all the cyclists. After a little while they start their engines again and roar away. I asked someone there who explained that it was the blessing of the motorcycles!