We took the train from Madrid through the gorgeous Spanish countryside to Salamanca, where we met our mates. We were driven back to our friend’s hometown – Ciudad Rodrigo – and stayed with his lovely parents (and cat!) and tried out our appalling levels of Spanish. We saw a film production company housed in an old hotel, went for drinks with lots of people, walked the city walls and went into the cathedral.

We drove to Peña de Francia, right up to the monastery at the top where handfuls of snow were still melting.

We drove to Salamanca and saw views from the tower of the Cueva de Salamanca, the Huerto de Calixto y Melibea (a beautiful garden), and the two cathedrals of Salamanca (including the famous astronaut). This was our first proper sunny day, and we took full, leisurely advantage, as we tried to do for the entire trip with sun, food and wine – so much rioja, tinto de verano, tortilla de patatas, pinchos, jamón ibérico, magdalenas, churros, olive oil…no wonder the Spanish invented the siesta. The next day involved several librerías, the biblioteca publica, and a long drive to Toledo.

Toledo – even more hilly than Edinburgh, with streets barely wide enough to squeeze the car through. The views, the lights at night, the incredibly friendly street cat that almost followed us home, the informative walking tour, the absolute richness of the history – even the dash to the airport failed to stress me out.

Spain, gracias por tu hospitalidad