SARRIA, Galicia, July 18.
This is the starting point of my 6-day pilgrimage which begins tomorrow.
Sarria is a quaint little town that has existed since medieval times, now with a population of 13700. It belongs to the province of Lugo in the ‘autonomous region’ (a federal state) of Galicia, Spain. At this time of the year, it is mostly sunshine with temperatures ranging from a very pleasant 60 to 90 degrees. No rain is forecast along the route I will be trekking.
To get here from the Madrid Int’l Airport (Barajas), I chose to take the State-owned train system known as “Renfe.” The airport’s Terminal 4 has a Renfe station from which one can travel all throughout Spain but mainly to Central Madrid, as a service for airline passengers. Three stations away from the airport is Chamartin, for a change of trains and off to “Lugo/Sarria” for a 5-hour ride. The Renfe ticket office is at Terminal 4's ground level. Clean and comfortable seats better than airplane seat and rural, agricultural Spain in view most of the way.
The Sarria Renfe station is at the edge of town and literally within walking minutes to all amenities. My pre-reserved hotel was only two blocks away. A four-hour tour on foot can cover the entire vicinity worth covering, most especially the medieval section on a hill rise overlooking the town.
Centuries old structures such as churches, castle fortress tower ruins and monastery are concentrated up there. The streets are clean, tap water is potable, sidewalks with potted flowering plants and residences are mostly medium-rise structures. Sidewalk cafes abound.
A local claim to antiquity is the historic fact that King Alfonso IX, while on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, died here on September 24, 1230. They erected a small statue in his honor in a tiny plaza around which are the municipal hall, courthouse cum jail, centuries old churches and many really very old houses converted into pensiones albergueses.
Tomorrow on the first leg of my pilgrimage, on to Portomarin, 24 kilometers away.
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