Posted by: Leap of Faith | September 21, 2010

Of Bus Rides, Medieval Towns and Ecstasy

Going on tour is very hectic. Most of the time you stay on the coach for around four to six hours in- between destinations – with a scheduled 15-30 minute break every two hours. The tour director usually supplies us with interesting facts about the country or city we are visiting and occasionally cracks a few jokes to keep everyone awake. Unfortunately, the early wake-up calls, adrenalin-packed tour schedules and hot weather is the perfect formula for sleep-deprived tourists like us to doze-off while in transit in our cool and comfy AC-ed  coach (poor tour director – guess this is part of his “occupational hazards”).   

We officially kicked off our tour in Madrid, Spain but headed straight to Coimbra, Portugal for our first stop.  In between, though, we visited the fortified cities of Avila and Salamanca in Spain where we had a chance to experience the best that medieval life had to offer during a local folklore festival – lucky us!

Unfortunately, as with most of our stops, I paid little attention to what our tour director and local guides were saying and just focused on taking photographs of the places we visited.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy some of the snapshots I took that day:

This stone lion protecting the entrance to the Cathedral of Avila, home of St Theresa – yes, the “saint of ecstasy” – the religious kind, of course. 🙄

The streets of Avila were adorned with medieval flags to celebrate the local folklore festival…

… while these locals dressed as knights and fair maidens while roaming the cobblestone streets of Avila. 

This oven seemed to have been transported from the past as well.   I wonder whether the bread  (which reminded Pinky of siopao!) it bakes goes well with these…

… assorted grilled sausages and meats.

I personally felt that the grilled goodies were just a little bit too gross exotic for my taste.  Good thing these irresistible jellied sweets were there to end the meal on a yummy note.

This unique brass door knocker definitely caught my attention – as I’m sure it did many other passers by.

Slightly modernized structures are allowed here in this UNESCO Wold Heritage site provided these blend well with the “genuine” older buildings.  Most of the more modern structures in the area are converted into quaint restaurants, which offer al-fresco dining…

… with free entertainment provided by street musicians like this young boy.

In contrast, the busier university town of Salamanca boasts of its upscale and trendy coffee shops at its famed Plaza Mayor.

We opted to have lunch at this outdoor cafe, where we each enjoyed a glass of red wine coupled with bocadillos (hard crusted sandwiches – which, to tell you frankly, were not that great) and …

 … this delicious paella marinara.

Of course, what made our noon time meal great was this priceless view of the Cathedral of Salamanca, which towered over the small alleys and shops in the area.  If you ask me, these are the sights that make the looong coach rides more bearable.  We live for breathtaking views like these!

Stomachs full, we again boarded our trusty coach, ready to pretend to listen to our oh-so-amiable-and-knowledgeable tour director and of course, slowly doze off to oblivion… that is, until the next stop comes along. 😉








  1. nice one Keith! i super duper love the photos!!!

    • Many thanks, TA! I enjoyed taking them.

  2. We were lucky to be able to be in Avila in time for the medieval festival as it truly was one pleasant “bonus” attraction and lent a festive air to the otherwise historic and somber city. Salamanca was eye candy too but I wish we could’ve spent more time exploring its sights…

    Great photos as always 😉

    • Hon, it was really great to see the locals dress in those beautiful costumes. It helped me visualize how it must be to live several centuries back.

      I also agree with you, it would be nice to have a little more time to go around when we are on tour.

  3. […] lucky streak must have been riding high after we came from Avila since another local folklore festival was again underway in our next stop – the small town […]

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