Tag Archive: Avila



In an earlier blog, I wrote about our day trip to Avila from Madrid. It was the week before Holy Week. And I ended up doing Avila 2 days in a row. But that’s another story.

 

 

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There are many ways to tour Avila. The Tourist Office has several itinerary choices for visitors. The more energetic may want to round up the walls and visit as many churches and museums. The lethargic, exercise-deprived may opt to train in and around the 11th century walls. The first time around, it was a walking trip for us. Avila has enough churches ⛪and old buildings 🏰within its “murallas” or walls to fill up a whole day. The 2nd time around — which is really just the day after — we didn’t miss the chance to ride the green train that weaves around and outside the walled city. A good idea, sparing us from the leg cramps of the day before.

 

 

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Typically, every tour starts in the San Vicente Basilica, 💒which is right at the mouth of The Murallas. The basilica is where the young Prince, son of Ferdinand and Isabela, remains buried. Very impressive. Just before entering, take time to appreciate the wood carvings on the doors and the statues guarding the admission area. I spotted 10 apostles and wondered. When asked, the guide didn’t know which of the apostles are missing. Also, every pilgrim here won’t miss a visit to the Museo de Santa Teresa. Although Avila has another patron saint (well before St. Therese was born and sainted), there are many museums and relics of St. Therese, along with all those stores selling “yemas” named in her honor. If you ask me, those “yemas” taste like pure yolks sprinkled with sugar. Too rich. 😖

 

 

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On our 2nd visit, we visited the Convent cum Monastery where St. Therese of Jesus was once the prioress. Coincidentally, this Monastery of Incarnation opened its doors on the very day of the saint’s baptism, though it was 20 years after when she entered the convent as a nun in 1535.

 

 

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Inside, we spotted the exact site where St. Therese met the child Jesus. The child Jesus allegedly appeared to the saint right by the main staircase of the Monastery. The story goes that the child asked the saint “Who are you?”, to which the saint answered “Teresa of Jesus”. Then she asked the child, “Who are you?” And the child answered “I am Jesus of Teresa”.

 

 

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In 1982, Pope John Paul II visited this convent. The chair on which he sat is encased in glass and put on exhibit here. There are many relics inside the Monastery, and the cell where St. Therese of Jesus lived is well-preserved.

 

 

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The Monastery’s gate is actually outside the walls. If you are riding a cab, be sure to be dropped off right by the gate. Easily, you can spend an hour or less here. A small tienda or souvenir shop can be found as you exit the same door you entered.


I do not pretend to be a connoisseur, nor am I saying I’ve tried all culinary delights around here. But I dare say that what I have found so far, I LIKE!

 

 

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A trip to Avila meant bringing home some boxes of those yemas and cookies irreverently called “Tetillas de Monja” . Lenten Season meant we should try that Lenten delicacy called “Torrijas” or “Torrejas” —- frankly a cross between a French Toast and a bread pudding.

 

 

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In Segovia, never miss a cochinillo meal at no less than Meson de Candido. They didn’t build a monument for Candido for nothing. It’s only a half hour AVE train ride from Madrid. The cochinillo, the cathedral and the Alcazar are good enough reasons for a day out to Segovia.

 

 

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Of course, one must try the authentic paellas here in España. We tried some when we sat and dined in Plaza Mayor, while watching the crowds in chilly weather. But the best was introduced to us by our foodie friends who brought us to this hole in the wall somewhere in Tres Peces, 20 near the Anton Martin metro station. It is called Ventorillo Murciano.

 

 

A trip to the Mercado de San Miguel is also a must-try. Have your cheese and croqueta fix here. Or grab a drink or two while savoring some boquerones, Jamon, langostinos or some other shellfish. We even found some Chicharon, which they call cucurucho!

 

 

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We checked out Casa Botin, that oldest running restaurant in the world, but there was a long line that Easter Sunday. No problem. The same foodie friends D and J introduced us to another Hemingway favorite haunt. Restaurante Salvador does not serve Botin’s suckling pig (besides, we had our cochinillo fix in Segovia) but it certainly serves the best Rabo de Toro. My friends said this is the same place where matadors hang out after a corrida. And one of them matadors had an affair with no less than Ava Gardner. Whether it was after or during her marriage to Frank Sinatra is debatable. But who cares if one is served bull’s tails for dinner?

 

 

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Now, if you’re on a tight budget…..you don’t have to do Mc Donald’s or KFC here. Do check out some local food chain. There is Museo del Jamon, and there is Paradiso del Jamon. Both serve €1 bocadillos (sandwiches) and some good ol’ Spanish delicacies from Quezo, Jamon, Callos, Albondigas, Tortilla, etc. You choose!

 

 

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But do save some euros for that churros con chocolate. If you go to the palenque (market), you can have your desayuno (breakfast) of cafe or chocolate WITH either churros or porras (like bicho bicho) for only €2. Cheaper than a Mc Do breakfast! Or you may want to line up for some freshly-baked breads and pastries (like Garnier’s) but it would be difficult to resist the pastries. At least ONCE, try the churros con chocolate ☕in either Chocolateria San Gines off Calle del Arenal near Puerta del Sol, OR Valor near Plaza Callao.

 

Buen Provecho!


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#19 DAY TRIP TO AVILA


I have been to Avila before, yet longed to go back again. All unplanned, but I managed to visit Avila 2 days in a row. How? There’s this tour we signed up for last Sunday : El Escorial and Valle de Los Caidos. We didn’t know that the same tour likewise included a visit to Avila. Which is fine. Except that the day before, we had friends who signed up for a tour of Segovia AND AVILA. At the last minute, one couldn’t make it…..so they asked me if I’d want to sub. How’s that???

 

 

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Ancient hill-top Avila has been declared a Unesco “Heritage of Mankind” city, and is famous for its intact medieval city walls and 90 towers dating back to the 11th century. The city was the birthplace of the mystic writer Saint Teresa of Jesus (1515-82) and is an important pilgrimage site, with quite a good number of churches built in the Romanesque and Gothic style.

 

 

First order of the day was a visit to the San Vicente Cathedral. Construction of this church spanned 200 years from the 12th to the 14th century. The church is outside, not inside the city walls. The main door with intricate wood carvings, the retablos and the crypt are the highlights of this church visit.

 

 

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On the first visit, we had an honest-to-goodness walking tour of Avila. We even had to ask permission from Señora Maria Jesus (si, that’s her name) to give us a couple of minutes to buy yemas. They say the yema uses a secret recipe of no less than Sta. Teresa de Avila. Judging by the number of stalls selling yema, it sure looks like it’s no secret anymore. Now, be careful with these yemas. That small ball tastes like it’s made up of a dozen yolks in it. I’m good for just one. Two will give me a headache.

 

 

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You may start out visiting as a pilgrim….. until you get tempted to buy some of the cookies irreverently called “Tetillas de Monja”. And please don’t ask me to translate (*blush). Then you completely get off the pilgrimage mode once you ask for “bolas de los frailes”. Dear me, who ever thought of naming these pastries as such are definitely raking it in as 1 out of 5 tourists I met bought a box or two. Tee hee.

 

 

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Avila’s Plaza Mayor may not be as impressive as similar plazas in major cities but if you’re looking for a place to eat, there are several choices. Other tourists would likely not give it a second look but I bet many Pinoys stopped for some camwhoring in La Bruja Cafe and Bar. Need I tell you why?

 

 

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Lunch was not in La Bruja. We were soooo hungry by the time we reached Avila (the second time around) that we decided we’d do lunch first and then just ride the “choo-choo” train navigating around and inside the walled city. Besides, we were here just a day before, remember? Restaurante Las Murallas is just at the mouth of the walled city’s gate, where one also takes the small train ride, PLUS it has a store selling yemas and Tetillas! No bolas or pelotas de frailes today (*more blush).

 

 

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The train goes at 4pm. We nearly had to drag ourselves away from our lunch of cochinillo, cordero, gambas, paella, patatas revolconas. Way too much. How we stuff ourselves! This pilgrimage has turned into a food trip instead. Not fair to our dear St. Therese of Jesus. So, forgive me if I end my blog here. I need to write a more serious piece on the good saint. Lo Siento😔😔😔

 

 

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