|The medieval walls at Avila, with non-medieval people walking around|
I haven't been in Spain since November 2001 and I'd been planning to return. It won't be another 10 years before I'm back. To truly paraphrase Gertrude Stein, Barbados and America are my countries, but Spain is my hometown. Considering that I still speak bastardized Spanish (enough to get me around without looking like an "ugly American" - more on that later!), people are often surprised by my affinity for Spain, its people and culture. Dependent on if I win the lottery or wait for retirement in an odd 30 years, if you want to look me up in the future, I'll be at a white-washed, two-storey house on the Cuesta de las Tomasas, in a hillside neighborhood in Granada called the Albaicin, enjoying an amazing view of the Alhambra every morning.
|Atocha Station, Madrid. Yes, those are palms.|
After a few wrong turns (come on, it's impossible NOT to get lost when you speak a bastardized form of a beautiful language) and a little meandering, met up with the tour guide with the easily remembered name of Lisa. She pointed out various sites along the way as we began our drive down the Gran Via, which looks a lot like any congested street during an early morning commute. Traffic jam? Check. Great, I definitely feel right at home.
|La Gran Via, on a normal traffic-clogged day|
While Lisa (the tour guide, not me in some weird guise) talked about all the great things we would see on this day trip to Avila, with a second stop at Segovia (next Sunday's blogpost - stay tuned!), I forced myself to wake up and pay attention to my surroundings as we were leaving the city. I'd been in Spain since early Wednesday morning; 3am in New York City, I'll have you know, and had taken a tour bus that day to get acclimated to central Madrid. It is truly one of the most beautiful Spanish cities, home to the Prado Museum, which I'd managed to get a shot of the day before the trip to Avila. You can't tell from this shot but the line around the Prado was ridiculous. Why didn't I go in? If you know me, you know how much I
|Prado Museum, Madrid|
|Snow-covered mountains on the way to Avila|
|Avila's Medieval gateway|
|Entrance at Avila's 12th century Basilica de San Vicente|
|Avila's cathedral tower|
|Cobblestone streets at Avila|
|Birth place of Saint Teresa of Avila|