Today, after two days of grazing our way around Madrid, we had an official guided tour of Avila and Segovia. i had been to Avila but never toured it in detail so it was all new to me. Avila is the famous walled city in the center of Castilla famous for its amazing walls from the 10th century as well as two of the church’s most influential saints. San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Avila who started the Carmelite order of nuns. They were both prolific writers of the early church (15th century) and had a major influence in the thinking of the church teachings today.
I have been to Segovia more times than I can count. I was last there with Amanda’s family in April. To walk the streets with a tour guide filled with facts and history was a new experience. I was pleased to be present while the Hutchisons were seeing these sites for the first time. It made it all new to me as well. The tour included a lunch in an old Segovia restaurant which included sopa castellana (a Castilian garlic soup made with bread and an egg) and a roast suckling pig, a specialty of Segovia. The tour was detailed and complete but the highlights are always the Alcazar of castle where Isabel and Fernando reigned equally, the magnificent romantic churches and the gothic cathedral, and the amazing 2000+ year old Aquadoc that looms over the modern city in a surreal fashion.
We completed our time in Madrid with a return to the incredible Mercado de San Miguel. This was a derelict open air neighborhood market that Spain poured lots of renovations into and today is the premiere tapas market in the world. Where it excels in variety and volume, it exceeds in quality. Absolutely any tapa you have ever heard of or tasted is here and many others you could never have imagined. If you don’t know about tapas, it comes from the verb tapar (to cover). It’s origins were small snacks served in a piece of bread used to cover your wine glass in the Middle Ages when the flies were not under control. Natural competition between restaurants made this humble beginning an art form of competitive delicious and creative small plates that you are served free with your glass of wine or beer. The result is a culture of grazing your way about Spanish towns with friends and family while you sample your favorite small plates. Tonight we had mini pizza, five different types of fish, an assortment of olives, and a plate of shrimp and calamari. We ended with cookies.
I will miss Madrid as I always do but I hope to be back. A highlight of this adventure has been spending quality time in the Camino and touring Spain with Merci and Scott. I feel that I truly got to know them and I am grateful that they have come into my life in such a profound way. It is amazing how deeply you can get to know someone when you walk five hours a day with them through rain up and down hills, share a bunk bed, and most meals and open your soul and pour it out. I am better for it.
Until my next Camino or some other adventure, I leave you gentle readers with my thoughts and my postings. Thanks to all who have read my musings and those who commented. You make me want to be a better man.