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 SeΓ±ora 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 SientoπŸ˜”πŸ˜”πŸ˜”

 

 

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