"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dos Hermanos and Avila had quite a lot in common the next morning. We all seemed to be suffering from a post party hangover. As is ever our way, our excitement at being back in Spain was so great that we had overdone it and had just one Orujo too many and felt a little bit sorry for ourselves the next morning issuing promises to “ have an easy one today”

The “easy one” began with a breakfast of chocolate and some dreadful churros at a chain place in the town which at least restored our sugar levels to the point where we could face our morning task of walking the walls of the city.

Avila’s walls are a thing of rare beauty. Over 100 turrets and 2500 castellations it is a schoolboy’s dream of a medieval castle. It is also listed by Unesco as a world heritage site of which Spain has more than any other country.

The temperature was up in the 40’s by this time which made our walk around the 2.5km of the walls a bit of a challenge but one to which we found ourselves the equal before heading back to our car and pointing it in the direction of Salamanca.

Could not be more different from Avila. It is considerably bigger and boasts a population of 180,000 people making it one of the larger cities in Castille Y Leon.

It also boasts what is considered the finest Plaza Mayor in the whole of Spain. A fairytale mixture of renaissance architecture which is equally beautiful by day or night.

HP had, through diligent research naturally, discovered the Hostal Don Juan which was about 30 seconds walk from the plaza which would, one would imagine, make it very easy to find. Ah, but then the joys of Spain hit again. The impenetrable one ways system meant that it took us over an hour to find a way to drive to our hotel. Still, when we did finally get there and dump the car, we found the hotel to be everything we have come to expect of 2* in Spain. Clean, comfortable, basic and all of EU70 a night. Leaving us with more to spend on Tapas. Which is exactly what we did.

Our schedule had us arriving in each town around 2pm which meant that many of the bars were beginning to close for the afternoon siesta. The heat in this part of the country means that they stick very fiercely to the “two openings, two closings” way of life and after the afternoon kip would not spring into life again until after 8pm. We managed quite well by hitting half a dozen or so of the late closers before heading off ourselves to join them in the land of Nod.

As we wandered out that evening about 9pm, the noise in the Plaza was deafening as half of the city were seemingly on their paseo and using the square as the starting point. The bars around there are filled with locals, but given the location the prices are higher and it does also appeal to the large tourist population.

HP had done some more research and found out that the true enclave for tapa was about 15 minutes north of Meyor on Calle De Van Dyck. A street that had, we counted, just short of 100 bars on it. We did our best but made nary a small dent in what was on offer. But, what we did try was splendid. Highlights being Pincho Morunos, small cubes of cumin scented pork served on skewers. Sepia, small cuttlefish also on skewers and cooked a la plancha and lomo of pork served montadito and slathered in gravy. Best of all though were two plates of fried fish. Rabas ( literally “tails” but strips of squid ) and chiperones all crispy and, when doused with lemon, the perfect accompaniment to the local beers.

Time for a nightcap and some more helado so back to Mayor which was still in full effect. In fact, by 11pm, it still seemed to just be getting back into swing which proved excellent viewing as we sipped on our coffee and chopito of grog before heading around the corner for yet more ice cream.

A nice night
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