When you travel from Madrid to Salamanca, most notably at night, you’ll see the beautiful light of the walls of Ávila in the distance, which surround the majority of the city. Seeing these discernible walls on countless trips to and fro from Barajas (Madrid’s airport) I have been curious to see what Ávila is all about. Last Friday night we bought tickets to travel by bus – €15.00 for a return trip each. This was quite expensive, considering Ávila is just over an hour from Salamanca, but knowing nothing of the parking situation there, my car got to take the day off.
We arrived just before 2pm, when most things started to shut. The bus took us into town with the walls on our right-hand side, with a view of a few little bars and shops on the left – they all looked a little worse for wear. Unlike Salamanca, typical clothing stores shut during siesta. Although I wasn’t there for the shopping, the streets were very quiet!
The walls by day. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t great. I had read online the night before that Ávila can either be extremely hot or extremely cold. Last Saturday we experienced the latter, the kind of cold that just won’t quit! If you ever visit, be sure to pack a scarf and gloves, or bring layers you can easily add/remove.
Niall emulating his newfound postbox pals.
Ávila is quite small, and very old for the most part. Expect to see plenty of churches and a small square in terms of tourist spots, although the churches and military academy also close during siesta. You can also walk along the walls of course, but we were sissies in the unbearable weather (for Irish people, that’s really saying something!) So we gave it a miss. I think the price of entry is between €5-7.
Experiencing a bar/restaurant (or both! or several!) is always a given when you go to a new place. We heard of a great wine bar on Calle San Segundo called La Bodeguita. When we got our bearings walking around the sleeping little streets, we went to San Segundo to see what all the fuss was about.
Arriving at San Segundo, we saw a restaurant outside called ‘Restaurante Puerta del Alcazar’. Intrigued by the interactive menu outside and the sticker stating that the restaurant was featured in the Michelin guide, we figured it was worth a shot.
Although you can order a la carte, the waitress told us that there were not one, but three different menu del día offers to choose from. We went with the most expensive, at €22 each, as Niall wanted to try one of Ávila’s traditional and famous dishes, a chuletón de Ávila, Ávila’s T-Bone steak.
The bread was stale, and the wine was incredibly pruney and sweet. We were only given a small carafe, which we later discovered was from a giant plastic box of wine!
The starter was my favourite, seasoned mashed potatoes with bacon bits.
Niall had Castilian soup, with Spanish ham, bread and poached egg. He enjoyed it.
My main was disappointing. A frozen breaded fish filled and a small oily salad, with a side of cheap mayonaise sprinkled with paprika.
Niall enjoyed his steak, but again, nothing special.
I went for the three chocolate cake, which was nice but sadly, store bought.
Niall went for the very vaguely described ‘Helado’ on the menu, and ended up with a Cornetto!
In terms of Spanish eating, this food is very basic and at just under €50, I would recommend trying elsewhere. I sound very negative in this post, I do apologise!
After dinner we followed the streets and stopped along the way to look in the bakery windows, filled with colourful tasty treats. Each and everyone advertised Yemas de Ávila, confectionery famous from the area, so we picked up a box of 12 to try when we had a little more room.
Very cool Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Johnny Bravo cookies!
Kate Moss shows in the window of a little store.
With so many things closed, we used food and drinks as a pasttime. A glass of wine here…
..a frozen yoghurt there. The frozen yoghurt in LlmaoLlmao (mouthful!) was good…I got crunch, toblerone and chocolate sauce. Wifi is free in here.
Time for the Yemas de Ávila! These sugared and floured egg yolks were crumbly, soft, sticky and sweet. When we tried the first one, we weren’t too impressed. But pleased with the aftertaste and curiosity regarding these popular little treats, we ate more on the bus home.
More wine! On to Bodeguita, where we picked our wine by region. I went for Rioja, Niall for Ribera del Duero. This bar is small, unfussy and unpretentious. There is wine everywhere, naturally, newspapers, TV and an ice cream fridge in the corner, with the walls of the bar lined with radiators, small tables and stools. The barman kindly offered advice on the wines we chose, showing us the bottles if we wanted to purchase them again.
He also brought us a small snack – chicken and courgettes in a sweet tomato sauce.
We spent the rest of our time in Ávila walking around (admittedly from bar to bar). The bar we settled on to nestle in before the bus back was Cáramel, opposite Bodeguita. Cáramel is a cocktail and wine bar, which is modernly furnished, with a large heated smoking area out the back. If you’re going to Ávila, this place is a must. Each drink comes with a pincho of your choice, a large menu with a nice variety and twist on the regular pinchos and tapas that are frequently on offer. To name a few – bread with tomato salsa and cod, avocado on toast with fresh cooked salmon, mini chorizo pizzas, goats cheese toasts and mini hot dogs.
I’m sure we would have enjoyed Ávila that bit more if it wasn’t so dull and cold – we spent a fortune on food and drink as a result! Nice for a day trip, I wouldn’t stay for much longer, as there’s plenty more to do in Salamanca.
Goodbye walls! I’ll go back to the way things were – enjoying you from afar.
♥ ♥ ♥