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!

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