Every guitarist knows or should know the name Andrés Segovia (1893-1987). He is considered the greatest guitarist of all time as well as the father of the modern classical guitar though he was not from the town of Segovia, it was through his name that the town was to me at least somewhat familiar. Another rather famous reference to Segovia is “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway set during the Spanish Civil War and takes place in the hills and mountains near the city of Segovia.
There is an energy that can be felt when you are in a university town, and there was such a feeling in Salamanca. Maybe it was that there are 30,000 students at the University of Salamanca or just a larger than average number of young people for a city, but the energy was indeed there. The University, founded in 1218, has ben a center for teaching and culture and has over the centuries, and today it is renowned for the study of humanities and languages as well as law and economics.
Inhabited since before the 5th century BC, Avila was a small fortified town conquered by the Romans about 61 BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was held by the Visigoths, then the Moors. Repeatedly attacked by northern Christian kingdoms it became essentially deserted. By 1088, the town was retaken from the Arabs and began repopulating. The leaders constructed a stone town and created the walls that still stand. Indeed, its most imposing monument is the wall that surrounds the city.
Cycling's Grand Tours are the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, and the Vuelta a España. They are the most prestigious, and grueling multi-week-long cycling events in the world. We have never been able to see the Tour de France while we have been in France since it can be expensive and difficult to get to a good spot to watch the 200 riders streak past in 60-120 seconds. But this time we lucked out. We were in Madrid for the finish of the final stage of the2015 Vuelta a España - the Tour of Spain.
As our train entered the Estación de Atocha safely and with all of our luggage, we quietly breathed sighs of relief. The high-speed RENFE (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles—National Network of Spanish Railways) train had travelled between Montpellier, France and Madrid at speeds in excess of 225 kph (140 mph) in some places. The few stops that were made were very short and doors closed with no warning. I guess that if you want to call yourself “High-speed”, you don’t linger ... anywhere.