1st Time in Avila
We received our vehicle by ship on October 14. We made this trip with our good friends Don and Pat on October 18. It just so happened they were visiting us at the time.
We left our house at about 09:30. We were hoping to attended mass at the Cathedral of St. Teresa of Avila; however, we had not bothered to look on the Internet to see the mass schedule. We just set the address in our GPS and hit the road. On the way we drove by El Escorial. It is a huge complex that we hope to tour in the future.
When we arrived in Avila, the GPS took us right to the Cathedral. We were able to find a parking space fairly close and then walked to the Cathedral. At 43 degrees, it was rather chilly. As we were approaching the Cathedral, the bells began to chime. I looked at my watch and saw it was right at 11:00. As we went inside, mass was just beginning. It was nice to attend mass again even though it was entirely in Spanish. There were a few things I understood. Because of that, I could usually tell where we were during the mass.
After mass we were able to spend a few moments looking around the Cathedral before we were literally kicked out and the door locked behind us. That is one thing I have noticed as a major difference between Spain and the U.S. In the United States the churches are open virtually all of the time. In Spain, the churches are usually only open just before and just after the mass. I assume that must be because of the many valuable items that are in so many of the churches in Spain.
I believe the Cathedral was built in the mid-11th century. I have never been in anything that old before. It was probably every bit as tall on the inside as the National Basilica in Washington, DC. However, it was much more rustic. To add to that rustic look, at the time we were there, parts of the Cathedral were being renovated.
After leaving the Cathedral, we walked across the street to a small pastry shop. We all had a pastry and a cup of coffee, then we walked around in the old city. We found our way to the convent St. Teresa founded. I was fascinated to be so near where a saint of the Catholic Church had lived; and a Doctor of the Church to boot!
Near the Cathedral is the Museo de Santa Teresa. We went through the museum. It was interesting. I am sure it would have been even more interesting had we had a full grasp of Spanish.
When we left the museum, we wound our back through town and found a spot for lunch. It was an outdoor cafe across from one of the main gates into the old city. That gate goes right through the city wall.
I could feel the wall calling, so after lunch we went up on the wall to see the sights from there. The tourist book we had indicated this wall is the oldest and best preserved in all of Europe. The views of the Cathedral and the old city were quite unique. The wall was made of stone, a resource that is obviously very plentiful in the area. I imagine it is somewhere between 30 and 40 feet tall. Walking up the stairs I got a real feeling for what the people felt and went through to get to the top of the wall. The stairs are not like ours today. The steps themselves were very uneven. In addition, the distance of the rise from one step to another was very uneven. The handrail was a piece of rope strung through some metal grommets.
When we came down from the wall we made our way back to the car and ultimately back home.
Avila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.