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Highlights of the Portuguese Way
Friday 29 July 2016
MY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PORTUGESE WAY – Trip with the Spanish Tourist Board ~Michelle
We met up in the airport all a little bit nervous but once we got to talking and I knew someone that knew someone that knew someone they knew and well we were all best of friends before the flight took off!
We arrived in Vigo airport on our early morning flight and we went straight to the O Rosal region and the River Minos Estuary. We were set to work straight away by visiting a winery that produces the excellent Albarino wine. I know tough job but all in the name of research! Before lunch we visited the lovely church at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Oia.
Parador in Baiona
This is an amazing example of a Parador in Spain which are generally hotels that are located in adapted castles, palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings. The Parador in Baoina is a traditional Galician manor house within the walls of a medieval fortress originally built to deter pirates from the area. The Parador sits on top of its own peninsula, overlooking a beautiful bay. After a beautiful lunch we were transferred to Vigo.
Vigo is the largest city of Galicia. It is a marine city in the southern part of Vigo Bay. It is located just north of the border with Portugal. When we arrived we did a walking tour of Vigo and even though it was only an hour it give a really good insight into the area. We were staying in the Pazo Torres de Agrelo in Redondela which is a large manor house. The decor was amazing and our meal was even better!
Camino – Walk to Valenca do Mino
After all that wining and dining on just our first day it was time to do some walking! Our trip overall was just to get a taste for the Camino in this area so today we headed off on a 2.5km walk (just to ease ourselves into it, did I mention the wining and dining!) to Valenca do Mino which took us through Valencas fort, over the international bridge and to the town of Tui. Tui is the start of the last 100km of the Portuguese Way. This is one of the more popular routes for pilgrims. We visited the old town and the Sta. Maria de Tui’s Cathedral that sits on a hilltop overlooking the city. We were then transferred to Pontevedra which if you were walking the whole way from Tui is approximately 52km away, the half way point of this route. Our home for the night was a rural hotel called the Torre do Rio.
Camino – Walk to Valga
We got to stretch our legs a bit more today! 11.5kms of gorgeous country side. The area was so green and rural and it reminded me of Connemara. This route took us through little towns, forests and farmland. The whole route is very well signposted with yellow arrows everywhere so there was no fear of us getting lost! As we passed pilgrims along the way they all had the same friendly greeting ‘Buen Camino!’ Even though we were cheating and not putting in the miles by foot that these pilgrims were you soon get sucked into the spirit of what walking this historic way really is. It is all about the journey which I suppose is a philosophy that can be applied to all aspects of our lives. Live in the moment, look up and speak to people even if it is only to say ‘Hello!’
Santiago De Compostela
After lunch at Casa dos Martinez in Padron we made our way to Santiago De Compostela. This is the final destination of all pilgrims making their way along the Camino. We were given a guided tour of this World Heritage City and we visited the International Pilgrim Service Centre in Carretas Street. This is where every pilgrim that has walked at least 100km of the Camino, receive their ‘Compestela’, certificate of achievement. It was overwhelming watching as pilgrims who had completed their journey arrived at their final destination. Many people have ‘The Camino’ on their bucket list and I can understand why. It doesn’t have to be for religious reasons everyone has their own personal reasons for completing it.
Santiago is a wonderful little city with lovely winding streets. We spent a great evening here sampling fantastic tapas in a variety of restaurants on the popular Rua do Franco.
Finisterre – The End of The World!
Our last day in the Galician province was spent in Finisterre. Finisterre means ‘lands end’ in latin. When the world was thought to be flat this was where the land ended! Today it is an extra add on to your Camino adventure after you arrive in Santiago you can continue on to Finisterre to pull of your walking boots (traditionally to burn them!) and dip your feet in the ocean. A welcome treat after walking all those kilometres! We wandered around Finisterre visited the lighthouse, the church and the pilgrims hostel. There is amazing ocean views and white sandy beaches. For our lunch we indulged in the fantastic seafood on offer. One thing to notice in Finiesterre is that the route here is marked with green arrows as this is not a Camino de Santiago trail.
I was lucky enough to take part in this trip thanks to the Spanish Tourist Board and I really feel that I got to see parts of Spain that are undiscovered by most tourists. Aside from the obvious draw to this area being the Camino there is so much more to discover. It is a part of Spain that we are not used to. It is rural and green and it rains! But it is very picturesque and honestly this has to be experienced to be believed. I will have to return soon to walk my 100km to get my Compostela!