Touring with the Sun
Feinberg, Ellen, The World and I
Two American scholars spend A year in Sahagun, discovering The life, art, and nature Of Spain's northern Plateau region.
Appearances are often deceiving. The small (population 3,500), adobe-walled town of Sahagun hardly looks like a tourist destination, but it is. Located in the northern part of Spain's central meseta (high plateau), in the province of Leon, it is a popular stop for tour buses, pilgrims on the Road to Santiago de Compostela, and summer visitors who go there for the clean, dry air and inexpensive accommodations. Although the town may seem like an unlikely base camp, Sahagun and the nearby region are filled with easily accessible sightseeing treasures.
For a variety of reasons--some trivial, others obscure--my husband and I decided to spend a year in Sahagun experiencing the rhythms and routines of life in a small Spanish town. I had lived there once before and been befriended by a local family, so I knew we would be part of the community, not merely tourists.
Once settled in, we developed a routine based on the ebb and flow of the Spanish day. Each morning around ten, we'd stroll down to the arcaded Plaza Mayor, where vendors sold produce just picked from their nearby gardens. When we wanted to buy meat, we'd stop at our favorite meat market, where the butcher would carefully explain exactly what the beef we were purchasing was fed and where the lambs grazed. He knew these important details because he bought the meat "on the hoof' and slaughtered it himself. If we felt like having fish or shellfish, we'd visit one of the half-dozen fish markets scattered around town, all of which received fresh deliveries from the coast several times a week.
The numerous bars that line the streets served a fragrant cafe cortado (espresso with a tiny bit of milk). And if we felt indulgent--or more accurately, overindulgent--we'd treat ourselves to fresh-baked almond-or apple-filled pastries from the confiteria just across the street from our apartment.
On hot days when we didn't have the energy to cook, we'd head down again to the Plaza Mayor for a meal at Restaurante Luis. The place is famous for its succulent roasted young lamb and leeks stuffed with seafood and covered with a whipping cream, garlic, and roasted red pepper sauce. Its sauteed wild mountain mushrooms, huge prawns grilled with garlic and a bit of olive oil, and assorted offerings of wild game are also popular. We didn't eat badly in Sahagun, and the prices were half what they would be in a large Spanish city.
Like the Spaniards, we learned to sleep late and eat later, so …
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Publication information: Article title: Touring with the Sun. Contributors: Feinberg, Ellen - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 13. Issue: 10 Publication date: October 1998. Page number: 136+. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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