I got to the Bus station at 815 and didn’t see Ola since I was early but as I walked in a guy on a bench called out “hey you remember me” in Spanish. I did it was a Moroccan guy I met a while back at one of the demonstrations we had in the plaza. He was bandaged and bloody on both hands; I found out he was riding a bike with a glass cup in his hand and crashed and when he fell he crushed it under the weight of his body on his hand. He had been in the hospital all night and when released at about 2am the buses had stopped running to his town so he went to the club to dance, bloodied pants and all….
Ola and I got our bus and were in Avila in about an hour and 15 minutes, but it seemed like a blink of an eye. We walked into the city but I guess everyone was still sleeping so we gave them a chance to wake up while we walked across the river and to the “Cuatro Postes” view point, it’s just four big stone columns and a cross of stone in the middle but from this spot you can get the best view of the city. Avila is known for its impressive city walls, supposedly the oldest (from 1100) and most complete in Spain. On the way back we found an old mill powered by the river, which had been converted into a restaurant and strolled through their garden before heading back into town to look for lunch.
In town Ola picked a nice place with an interior courtyard which was thankfully closed in with a clear plastic roof. There are several tapas that I don’t like in spain the one they brought us today was olives mini cucumbers and mini onions that have been pickled; I know I don’t like it I have tried it a few times but I figured I would give it a go again maybe finally getting accustomed to it… it was all awful as I expected but the olive offered an unexpected surprise, a hint of cinnamon. We ate and then looked at some pictures on my Ipod and then continued the exploration.
Walking, walking, walking we checked out some neat churches from the outside then the cathedral. A strange but intriguing use of multiple types of stone and brick, with flying buttresses and rose windows. Then we went up onto the city walls; you can walk around about a third of the city atop the walls, gaining an incredible view at times all the way to the Sierra de Avila.
Once we made it around and down the city walls we walked all the way around the city taking in every inch of the city walls. At one point I found a shot I thought would be cool so I climbed up on some rocks and got next to one of the 80-something garrets. Then we reentered the city to look for Yemas, traditional sweets, made by the nuns in the monasteries in Avila. Yemas are the yolks of soft boiled eggs rolled in lemon juice and sugar. (I tried it at the bus station and was disgusted; Ola wouldn’t even try it).
Along our walk we found the center for Mysticism, which the guide book said would be closed… liars. It is a pretty small nondescript building. We walked in and were put on an elevator to the bottom floor and exited into a dimly lit exhibit filled with the sound of water slowly running across rocks it was falling down a two story metal rectangular sculpture while a rope hung from the ceiling brought your eye back upwards. There was also a tree hung from the ceiling by its roots (the Tree of Knowledge or the Axis Mundi Tree). As you ascend you are allowed a little more light and fewer and fewer distractions. Along the way I found a really beautiful poem that says:
“My heart encompasses all forms, it contains an open field for the gazelle, a monastery for the Christian nuns. There is a temple for the worshiper, a sanctuary for pilgrims. In my heart are the tablets of Tora and the Koran. I follow the religion of love and I traverse all paths, where ever the camel may take me. This is true faith, true religion.”
I also saw a cool quote about silence. “silence is the death of words and the place of their birth”. The final room of the center was flooded with natural light which was filtered by some coating on the glass windows. From the ceiling they have hung a huge boulder, under which is a mound of sand making it seem as though the gravitational pull of the rock has exerted its force on the sand.
We wandered into the new part of avila since we still had an hour before we had to catch a but then tested her to see if she could get us back to the bus station… it could be disastrous when we go to Morocco in a few weeks we were only two blocks from the station and was lost and I’m not much better but at least I have a pretty good visual memory of buildings I have past and things.