Since today is cold, foggy, and windy, it seems like a good afternoon to revisit sunny Avila. I thought I’d take y’all along for a stroll.

Your guide Rubi on the Plaza de Santa Teresa - the famous wall is in the far background

Avila’s most striking architectural feature is its intact defensive wall, which was built between the 11th and 14th century. It is made of a beautiful golden stone, which is especially lovely when set off by the blue, blue Castillian sky. Much of the stone was taken from older structures, including a Roman necropolis and aqueduct — even millstones were pressed into service. Proto-recycling for teh win!

Sitting in the sun with your back to the stone is a good way to warm frozen bones.

Avila was home to two great mystic thinkers, or as I like to imagine them “wackos for the Lord,” Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross. As is still the case with many Spanish women, St. Teresa was not one to take prisoners. She is quoted as having said to God, “If this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!” St. John of the Cross, by far the gentler of the two sainted companions, was as much an introvert as Teresa was an extrovert. His spiritual life was unusually rich even for his time, and he is considered by many to be one of  the finest poets ever to write in Spanish, though he composed relatively little — no more than 2500 poems in his lifetime.

Mabel and Little G with the Convent of Santa Teresa in the background

Since the climate in Avila is harsh, with bitter winters and hot, hot summers, spring and fall are the times to visit. We had great weather, and even had coffee in a plaza, which also let Little G burn off some steam. She loved sitting at the “big girls’ table” us, but running around was higher on her agenda.

Please do not caffeinate the baby!

We also visited Cathedral Square (though it was too cold inside the church for a long visit), where we amused ourselves taking pictures of lions* fore and aft, and lions doing strange things.

Lion smile

Lion booty

Why are you licking the column, you silly kitties?

"I'm not a lion, but I play one on the portico of the Cathedral."

*OK, I know that last guy’s a Wild Man, not a lion. But doesn’t it look like he’s wearing a very snazzy pair of Kitty Pants?

As is mandatory when visiting any place at all in Spain, we had a great lunch. Steak, in fact, as Avila is beef country. If you’re ever in town, drop by this casa de comidas. It’s across from the main portico of the Cathedral, and well worth climbing a flight of stairs with a rambunctious toddler in her stroller.

Oh, and first course? Octopus with "patatas revolconas." Drool.

Below are two more vignettes of Avila in the spring. The stone beast grazing under the flowering plum is a replica of one of the Celtiberian “Toros de Guisando.” Did you know that parts of Spain — mostly in the North — have Celtic roots? It’s true! They even have the bagpipes (gaitas) to prove it.

Bull or pig?

Bicycles may be for summer, but scooters are for spring.

It was a good day. We had a great drive home through the mountains, passing fields of cattle (including frolicking calves), and singing along to the mega-kids-mix CD I’d made for Little G. Who was conked out in the back seat, natch.

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