November 15 – 17, 2011 On the occasion of my 60th Birthday!! Left for Madrid airport to go get Lorraine (Imma) in the morning. We rented a car and went off to Avila. We stayed in the city walls at our first Parador and it was great. They are old palaces, convents and castles that heve been converted into hotels. We checked in and left our bags and off we went to look for the Convento di Santa Teresa. Avila is beautiful and in the next couple of days we went to all the convents and churches although many were closed and only open for services. A little because of lack of money and also because of thefts. On november 17 we went to mass in the morning at the Convento del Incarnacion. From Avila we took excursions to Medina del Campo and Salamanca.
Ávila is a Spanish city located in the autonomous community of Castile and León, capital of the province of the same name. “Ávila de los Caballeros” is an honorific title of the city. Another is “Ávila del Rey” and yet another “Ávila de los leales” are all present in the flag of the city. The city is notable for having a complete medieval city walls, Romanesque. It is also one of the cities with the highest number of churches (Romanesque and Gothic) and catering establishments in relation to the number of its inhabitants. It is considered by many as the city of «Pebbles and Saints». It said the writer José Martínez Ruiz “Azorín”, after writing “The Castilian Soul” which was “perhaps the most 16th century city of Spain”.
November 18 – 19 To Santiago de Campostella where we visited the church and town and of course we ate and ate!! The country of Spain is super clean, the food great but the people not so great, for sure they are not overly friendly. Maybe they don’t like people with beards!!
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain. The city’s Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. In 1985 the city’s Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cathedral borders the main plaza of the old and well-preserved city. Legend has it that the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial. In 813, according to medieval legend, the light of a bright star guided a shepherd who was watching his flock at night to the burial site in Santiago de Compostela. The shepherd quickly reported his discovery to the bishop of Iria, Bishop Teodomiro. The bishop declared that the remains were those of the apostle James and immediately notified King Alfonso II in Oviedo. To honor St. James, the cathedral was built on the spot where his remains were said to have been found. The legend, which included numerous miraculous events, enabled the Catholic faithful to not only maintain their stronghold in northern Spain during the Christian crusades against the Moors, but also led to the growth and development of the city.
The Way of St. James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. Since then however the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
León is the capital of the province of León in the autonomous community of Castile and León, situated in the northwest of Spain. Its city population of 136,985 (2006) makes it the largest municipality in the province, accounting for more than one quarter of the province’s population. Including the metropolitan area, the population is calculated at 337,740 (2009).
Founded as the Roman military encampment of the Legio VI Victrix around 29 B.C., its standing as an encampment city was consolidated with the definitive settlement of the Legio VII Gemina from 74 A.D. Following its partial depopulation due to the Ummayad conquest of the peninsula, León received a fresh impulse as part of the Kingdom of Asturias. 910 saw the beginning of one its most prominent historical periods, when it became the capital of the Kingdom of León, which took active part in the Reconquista against the Moors, and came to be one of the fundamental kingdoms of medieval Spain. In 1188, the city hosted the first Parliament in European history under the reign of Alfonso IX, due to which it was named in 2010, by the professor John Keane, the King of Spain and the Junta of Castile and León, as the cradle of Parliamentarism. The city’s prominence began to decline in the early Middle Ages, partly due to the loss of independence after the union of the Leonese kingdom to the Crown of Castile, consolidated in 1301. León sits along the banks of the river Bernesga and it’s the last major city in the Camino de Santiago before it climbs west into the mountains that separate province of León from Galicia.
November 20 – 21 Drove to Leon on the Cammino de Santiago and took most of the day. We arrived to Leon and checked in to the Parador. I went out at night to see the city and Lorraine stayed behind. I picked a direction and started walking, when I asked someone for directions he ended up taking me himself and the rest of the night took me to all the churches, historic sites and tappa bars where we proceeded to eat and drink wine. We became instant friends and by the way his name was Francesco!!
November 22 Left Leon at 6:00 am for the airport for the trip back via New York to visit with Mamma e Babbo.