The best Albergue I have stayed in to date is in Sarria Spain called La Casona de Sarria. This is a family run Albergue and the owners are very kind and special people. From the moment you step into their “house” you are made to feel special. You are welcomed, and not in a superficial way. Marcela (one of the owners) went out of her way to make each of us comfortable.
We explained we were starving when we arrived. Marcela gave us directions, told us to go immediately to a restaurant 3 minutes away, and said “if they say they are closed say “La Casona de Sarria sent you”.
We ran out…..OK, so I walked as quickly as I could, and were seated in seconds after walking through the door. The three of us (Lila, Louise, and I) ordered food and the quality and service were well above par. The menu in this restaurant was Italian and all the food we ordered was exceptional. It turns out this restaurant has a Michelin rating…. and the cost for my meal ncluding a bottle of red wine was 17 Euros. Cheap like borscht!
When we returned to the hotel I wanted to have a shower but discovered I had left my towel in last night’s Albergue. In a word….. Gone!
I went down to ask Marcela if any pilgrims had left a towel behind. She immediately went to a closet and brought out a new looking, very expensive, technical towel. She made me promise to take better care of this towel than I did with the last one I had. What a trade up did I get…..
As we had arrived in a Sarria so late in the day it was an early night for me. Tomorrow has a lot of climbing, and some equally challenging descents.
The next morning I went down to have breakfast and was offered the following:
cheese and sliced meats
coffee or tea (in my case hot water)
pacakes (toppings: home made quince jelly, caramel, strawberry …)
toast (or untoasted bread)
…all prepared and served by Marcela.
When it was time to leave Marcela was giving everyone hugs, taking photos, and telling us to come back. I seriously hope to return some day.
This is Marcela’s 6 year old Pug….
Finally we were leaving Sarria today. This is the minimum starting point for people wanting a certificate of completion for the Camino. Many people start their journey here, especially people in Europe who can only take a week vacation. As a result, especially in the high season, you can expect crazy crowds. As we are now off the high season things shouldn’t be too crowded.
The guide book most people use is by a writer named Brierley. The stage for today is from Sarria to Portomarin. This distance including the climbs and descents is 27.4 km. I have decided to stop short of Portomarin as this distance, especially in the 28c sun-baked conditions will be too much for me.
The walk out of a Sarria begins over a Roman bridge and is demanding at times but the scenery is a reward in itself. We have left the mountains behind, but the famous hills of Galicia are still large. Galicia is a region of North-Western Spain where Santiago is located….the important stop of all Camino routes.
The first part of the day is mostly up, with some downs. The terrain then morphs into a generally flat land cutting through farms and small villages. In this part of the walk the region of Galicia has installed stone markers with a blue and yellow tile with a stylized shell, an arrow carved into the stone, and a brass plate with the distance to Santiago to three decimal points. Why someone needs to know to the centimeter (about a quarter of an inch) is totally beyond me. Sadly vandalism has been prevalent and some low-lifes have stolen the tiles and km plates where they can. A significant waypoint is the 100km marker. We pasted at least 6 posts where someone has used a marker and drawn in 100 km. As we are walking there is no way to know which marker is the legitimate one…….sadly.
The weather is gorgeous, but getting hot. During the second half of the day the are a few climbs, but mostly the remainder of the day is downhill. Great on the knees, and slower going than uphill.
I have been separated from Louise and Lila for the last half of the day as their bags are already in Portomarin, and they have been walking very fast. George Harrison and I are just makin’ headway, enjoying the walk…..looking for the village prior to Portomarin.
Yup. Never found it…..and walked across the gorge on the high level bridge right into Portomarin….27.4 km later. Another odd thing….I didn’t hurt today. That’s right, my ankle, my knee, my foot, my back…..none of it hurt. There is no rhyme or reason…but I am appreciative.
I’ll back up for a moment and tell you Galicia is the Ireland of Spain. If you know anything about Galicia it should raise alarms in that I have not mentioned the word rain once. This area is typically rain soaked and is a lush green. Not this year. It is dry and hot. Dramatically drier and much hotter than normal for this time of year. The local authorities are close to declaring this a drought. The forecast is for a 30% chance or showers on Tuesday and Wednesday this week….. in other words, not much of a chance of rain.
The Pilgrims on this part of the Camino are new to me, and I am still finding it easy to walk alone. Sometimes I am feeling like talking, and other time not so much. It has been easy to find a natural balance.
Today I am seeing people who have started in Sarria, and who are arriving in Portomarin in pain, suffering from “first day issues”. One lady in the Albergue is really feeling bad. She appears to be mid sixties, and is ready to pack it in. Definitely easy to see the anguish in her face. Her friend is trying to convince her to rest and decide tomorrow. I should mention this is all happening is a language I cannot understand….but having seen it before….it is easy to understand.
I met Izzy from Panama this afternoon when I took a short walk around Portomarin. She is flying out on Friday and had to skip ahead as well. It was a chance meeting on the street…so we had a late lunch before putting her in a cab to her hotel. Izzy wasn’t able to walk across this bridge due to a hightened sense of acrophobia. (pun..pun….pun)
I don’t know where I will be tomorrow….other than closer to Santiago. Stay tuned.
PS: Thanks for hitting “Like” Tony B. I appreciate your following my journey and I still think you would really like this……..