Avila, Spain for Our 7th Anniversary

I'd like to dedicate our anniversary celebration to Adriana and Tom for making our outing without the kids possible. Thanks, guys! We had such a great time!!

We left the house at around 2pm and decided to take the scenic route to Avila, which added about 30 minutes to our trip, but was well worth it. We drove up towards the Guadarrama mountains and had a spectacular view of the Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial, which we visited with Alex and Beth last month. Josh was kind enough to pull over a few spots and let me take pictures.

Off again! Avila is only about an hour away from Madrid so it was perfect for a romantic day trip. The city itself is almost completely surrounded by a medieval wall, which is still in amazing condition. There were plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from for coffee-drinking and eating, which is what Spaniards do best. The Spanish national past-time is eating and drinking for hours while talking and laughing... did I mention I love this country?! ;) We got to Avila just in time for Spanish lunch (which is from 2-4pm). We had some excellent filet with potatoes Avila style (sliced and baked in olive oil, parsley, and sea salt). Outstanding! We had a great view just beyond the walls from our cafe in the Plaza de Santa Teresa. We saw some interesting people while we dined. There were a lot of choir boys walking around before 5pm mass. The Iglesia de San Pedro in the Plaza was also a beautiful sight to behold. We wanted to check out more of the city within the walls.

The Cathedral de Avila was gorgeous. We peeked inside, but they were holding mass so I didn't feel comfortable sticking around let alone taking pictures. It was very beautiful, though... huge archways and a very ornate brass backdrop for the pulpit. We also swung by the Basilica de San Vicente... I love the orange brickwork and the Convento de Santa Teresa for some photos. I loved all the gothic architecture in this city!

We bought tickets to walk along the wall and it was a perfect day for it... the sun was shining, which kept the chill from the cold mountain air under control. If you look over the rooftops you can see the wall surrounding the houses. The landscape in Avila is gorgeous... snow-topped mountains and green fields :)

After walking the wall we made our way around the town, visiting even more historic churches and medieval-style constructed city buildings. By 6pm it was time for a coffee break! Everyone else was thinking the same thing. We work so well in Spanish time now that we're used to it :)

I wanted to try the official Avila dessert "yemas de Santa Teresa" (patron saint of Avila) which is simply egg yolk mixed with sugar, served cold with powdered sugar on top. The texture was a lot like gumdrops and the taste reminded me of marshmallow peeps. They were alright, but not something I will be craving any time in the future. Josh got a triple chocolate ice cream and it was delicious. After 2 coffees and a lot of sugar we were in dire need of another walk. We hit up some of the local shops, bought some local wine and a few gifts. It was around 8pm, the sun was beginning to set and crowds were gathering outside of the Cathedral de Avila. The Policia were starting to set up barriers. We saw people in costume running through the streets to get to the church on time for the Good Friday procession. Dinner doesn't start here until after 9pm (and nothing is open until that time) so we weren't even considering dinner plans yet. Instead we joined the huddled masses to wait for the procession.

The sun was almost completely down and the mountain air was COLD in the streets. The parade finally started at around 9pm. There were several bands which consisted of mostly horns and drums and a few saxophones (at the end of the line). Kids as young as 5 were marching and drumming, playing their little horns off-key. The costumes for the parades may seem scary, but they have worn these for centuries... well before the KKK adopted them and ruined their symbology. Men, women, and children were adorned in hooded masks and robes, leading the way for the massive icons of the stations of the cross. Any time one of the icons would pass the crowd we all grew silent. The parade lasted for nearly 2 hours. Some of the statues were on wheels, but most had to be carried down the street so the bearers had to stop every so often for a much needed break.

When the last band passed us we headed off to find a good spot for dinner. We found a cozy place called Torreon and sampled some more local delicacies. Chuletones de Avila (beef done up Avila style, again with sea salt, cooked rare, very tender) and the Torreon salad which included hard-boiled eggs, tuna, white asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and black olives... and a bottle of red wine. Another outstanding meal. We finished our dinner with coffee and a huge chunk of chocolate mousse pie. It was midnight by the time we finished and time to head home.

We took the highway back and made it there in less than an hour. Our room was all decorated for us with flowers on the bed and a Happy Anniversary banner. It was awesome :D We have such great friends. We had an amazing anniversary!!

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