Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Skateboarding in Salamanca

I have been skateboarding for many years in England and as I'm sure you all know, the weather in England is far from perfect, and living in a small rural town in the north of the country there aren't any skate parks within skating distance (the best I get is a smooth driveway/car park at our village hall) Therefore when I knew I would be coming to Salamanca to study and work here at Tía Tula language school I was really excited to explore what the city had to offer in terms of skate spots. I'm sure I still have a lot more to discover but will try and fill you in on my findings so far!

Naturally the first difference to skateboarding in Salamanca compared to back home in England is the weather. Even if it does rain (which is rare) the weather changes quickly enough in the summer months that within a couple of hours everything is dry. Another benefit of being here is Salamanca is a small city, therefore most things are only a 10-15 minute skate away from each other. Further to this many of the streets are paved with smooth concrete or marble like slabs which make for a smooth roll around the city. I came with a cruiser board (mindless 24/7) which is such a great way to get around and see the city, as well as a normal set up to take to street spots and down to the parks.

Now, the skate parks that they have here are nothing like the ones you can find in some of the bigger Spanish cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, there are also many superior parks in England, however there a good crew of skaters in the city who can make any session into a fun one. The main skate park in the city is situated next to the river just next to the start of the 'Puente Romano' bridge. The park has some small metal features-a fun box, a manual pad and two small kickers, one of which is moveable and the other crosses a gap. They also have a grind rail and a couple of grind boxes, as well as a covered area with small stair set and down-rails leading up to it. Though it might not seem like much, I have never been bored skating here, and the obstacles are both good for learning tricks and for pushing your skating. Some are easy, such as the 2 set up to the covered area, whilst others are hard to skate-a steep flat bank next to the fun box and a bigger stair set near one entrance to the park. There are also some good skaters here, and I've already seen some good stuff thrown down (hard flip off the kicker and over the gap, blunt stall flip out on the flat bank...) The skaters who frequent this park are all very friendly and helpful, and there is no feeling of intruding on their session. Games of skate are a common thing at the park, I've played countless games against different people since I've been here, so get learning some strange tricks to catch people out with! The location of the park next to the river means it stays slightly cooler than other parts of the city, and with the water and some greenery it really feels that you have got out of the city (despite the park only being a ten minute skate from the centre). This is definitely the place to come to meet other skaters in the city, however don't expect it to be full all day. Due to the heat and the general Spanish way of life people don't usually start showing up until around 6 or 7 in the evening at the earliest, however due to the floodlights and the cooler temperatures sessions can go on late into the evening.

There is also another park I have found set in the lower end of one of the bigger parks of the city 'el parque de los jesuitas'. This park is smaller than the main one by the river, but has concrete features and some transitions so if you are more into ramps than street skating this could be a better option for you. The park has a couple of quarter pipes, a small concrete launch pad and some flat banks linked to one of the quarter pipes to act as a kind of fun box. This isn't the easiest park to skate which makes any tricks landed that bit more impressive. This park is generally quieter than the main skate park, though I'm sure with the right crew a good session could go down there. There are also basketball and football pitches right next to it, and a bar in the middle of the park if you feel like you need a bit of refreshment!

One of the best street spots I have seen is on the main shopping street of Salamanca, the 'Calle Toro' by the side of the church of 'San Juan de Sahagun'. Though right next to the church I have never seen skaters get any trouble skating here. The spot consists of consecutive 2 and 3 sets with well waxed ledges next to each one. This is a good spot for learning new tricks down stair sets and for trying to put lines together down the stair sets or with the ledges. This spot is easy to find and right next to a supermarket. Not that I've tried but I would imagine Sundays to be a no go as Spain is a very religious country, but I can't say for sure!

There are many other waxed ledges of varying heights dotted around the city as well. One I've spotted is on the Rua Mayor as part of a statue/monument. It has both a tall straight ledge and a curved one to try some tricks on.

In terms of equipment there are 2 main skate shops in Salamanca, both close to each other in between the 'Calle de Toro' and 'Gran Via'. 'First Love' seems to be the main skate shop, stocking everything you need to get set up and with a range of clothing from brands such as Element, DC and Vans. Check out their website here for more information and some videos and pictures. The other skate store nearby is called 'K-Lab'. Compared to 'First Love' it seems more of an all round outdoor extreme sports shop selling snowboard equipment and clothing as well as skate stuff. See their website here for more info and an idea into the kind of things they sell. A bit further out of the city you can also buy complete skateboards, penny style cruisers, long boards and skate clothing from brands such as DC and Hurley at the 'Corte Ingles' on 'Calle de Maria Auxiliadora'. This is a big department store and the sports section is on the 5th floor.

I hope that this gives you a good introduction to skateboarding in Salamanca. If you are a skater and are debating whether or no to bring your board, do it! Maybe I'll see you down at the skate park for a game of skate some time this summer!

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