Thursday, January 31, 2013

Avila: The City of Stones and Saints

While lounging on the couch one lazy Sunday after a typical Spanish Saturday nights that starts late and ends early, Luke and I decided to plan a day trip out of the city for the following weekend. Later that week, our friends, Colleen and Jose, decided to join us, and we all met up on a cold (sometimes snowy) Saturday in Avila.

Avila, the birthplace of Santa Teresa, is widely known for the imposing, fully illuminated wall that encircles the old city, the Chuleton de Avila and the yemas. Without much on our agenda, we were easily able to cross off all three Avila “must-do’s”.

On Saturday afternoon, we walked along a small section of the wall, and then enjoyed a nice, long Spanish lunch, where Luke and his giant Chuleton did their best to encourage our vegetarian friends to remain vegetarians. Long lunches with wine and fresh, Mediterranean food may be my favorite part of the Spanish culture.


Colleen and Jose on the wall.


Luke’s chuleton, which is a giant T-bone steak best cooked rare. This pic doesn’t do it justice. Luke’s piece of meat was nearly 2 lbs., and he dominated it.

We also sampled the yemas, which are sweets made from egg yolk and (a small dusting of) sugar and sold all over Avila. Just like the name implies, they looked and tasted like an egg yolk. I took one bite, fought the urge to spit it out, and vowed never again. Although we’ve since talked to several Spaniards who love the yemas, they were an all around miss for our group.


Yemas de Santa Teresa. If you’re ever in Avila, try one and decide for yourself.

After our long lunch and a failed attempt to attend Saturday evening Mass (all the doors seemed to be locked), we took refuge from the cold wind and snowy precipitation and played an intense game of Travel Scrabble (I was the winner this time!) before setting out for a couple drinks. Thanks to Jose and his love for the Foursquare app, we ended up at The Deli, where we had a great night-cap before turning in.

Sunday we enjoyed a nice, sunny but cold, walk along the part of wall that we didn’t cover the day before, toured the Museum of Mysticism (I’m still not sure what mysticism is) and enjoyed a couple of tapas before training back to Madrid, where our Native Spanish friend dominated us all in another game of Scrabble. (After something involving “acorn” and “viola",” we didn’t stand a chance.)


The Cathedral of Avila.


Where the Cathedral and wall collide.


Avila beyond the wall.


Our group with Santa Teresa.
The Wall of Avila.

Although there wasn’t too much to see and do in Avila, we enjoyed our quick trip and were happy to share it with friends! Group travel can be so fun! There’s an idea brewing for a group trip to somewhere sunny and warm, and I hope we make it happen!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do Something that You’re Proud of Today.

After a relaxing, holiday filled 2+ weeks off work, Luke headed back to the real world at Torre Picasso today. As a side note, he was supposed to go back yesterday, but our bodies are still extremely confused about which time zone they’re in. So after very little sleep, Monday turned into an impromptu vacation day. As we were getting back into our routine this morning, he kissed me goodbye and as he walked out the door said, “Do something that you’re proud of today.”

Taking a 2 year hiatus from a job you never really loved and moving to a foreign country with your amazing husband sounds like a dream come true, and for the most part, it is. But there are hard days too. Days when you wonder what purpose you have. Days when you start dreaming about potential jobs, great changes, new projects or opportunities for the future, but everything seems impossible, too difficult or maybe just not worth the effort.

Though few, those are the days that you get down on yourself, becoming consumed by pessimistic thoughts and taken over by an attitude that can only be described as stinky. But there’s no reason for that. We have too much good in our lives, too many opportunities and too much to be thankful for than to waste away days wallowing in self-pity or focusing on the negative for whatever reason.

So with Luke’s words in mind, I set out to put into action a project that we’d already talked about starting, and yes, of course the idea came from Pinterest. We’re going to fill an empty jar with notes about good things that happen throughout the year. But I’m going to take it one step further and encourage us to ask more of and seek more out of each and every day; to create good things, to do things that we’re proud of instead of just waiting for good things to happen. As the year passes, the project will encourage us to put thoughts and ideas into action and to always be mindful of all the good things in our life. By the end of the year, we’ll have a jar full of good things, grateful thoughts and accomplishments, both big and small, to read and remember.   


Do something that you’re proud of today.