The drive from Salamanca to Avila was pretty short, just over an hour. After covering great distances in the first two days of our Tour of Spain, this day, May 23, was to be an easy day. We were planning to do a lot more about sight-seeing than driving.
Avila and Segovia were not on our original tentative itinerary. We inserted them this morning to fill the gap between Salamanca and El Escorial.
Boy, are we ever glad we did. Both visits ended up being lovely experiences. And in Elizabeth’s case, Avila, the “walled city of stones and saints,” as it is sometimes called, became one of her three top sights in all of Spain (the other two being Cordoba’s Mezquita and Gibraltar. By the way, my top three great experiences were El Escorial, Cordoba’s Mezquita and Zaragoza – but more on that later).
FYI – Avila is called the City of Stones and Saints because it has the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches (and bars and restaurants) per capita in Spain. The town is also known as Ávila de los Caballeros, Ávila del Rey and Ávila de los Leales (Ávila of the Knights, the King and the Loyalists.
We arrived in Avila from the south. Unwittingly. Yet that’s the direction that offers the best “postcard” views of the walled city. You can see two of them in the above panorama shots.
We were lucky to find free parking inside the walls (free parking is virtually non-existent in Spanish cities). So we spent the rest of our time in Avila touring it on foot. That included a long walk up on the walls and ramparts of the city.
Of course, first we had to pay admission fees. We were starting to find out that in many cases, even the churches in Spain charge a fee to get in.
“Incredible, how we have managed to corrupt their way of life,” I said to Elizabeth on one such occasion. “Everything is now about money. Just like in America. Europe did not used to be that way.”
Nevertheless, we did enjoy our walk on the walls of Avila even if it was a little bit chilly. I thought that this may have been due to the storm that had passed overnight. But when we saw snow on the mountains northeast of the town, I realized there had to be more to it than that.
Indeed, Avila’s elevation is about 3,700 feet, about 50% higher than Montserrat, for example, the place “Where Eagles Dare.” But one does not get that impression because the countryside is mostly flat, with rolling hills. The plains of Spain.
Which brought back to consciousness a verse from “My Fair Lady” (“Pygmalion): “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”
Here’s clip from the movie version of this wonderful musical, starring Audrey Hepburn (also see the NOTE at the end of this story):
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And now, here are the rest of the still shots we took in Avila…
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NOTE: The wildly successful musical “My Fair Lady,” produced for the stage in 1956 and as a film in 1964, is based on the play “Pygmalion,” published in 1913 by Irish author George Bernard Shaw. “My Fair Lady” and “Pygmalion” share a basic storyline, in which poor flower girl Eliza Doolittle is transformed into a lady at the hands of phonetics professor Henry Higgins (see http://www.ehow.com/list_6695401_differences-between-pygmalion-fair-lady.html).