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Santiago Hotel “Superb” – 9.3 on

The hotel I’ve booked our tour group into in Santiago over Easter has just listed on

It’s a new hotel – a brand new renovation is a grand old building – and it’s already got a 9.3 rating on

I’ve just spoken to Amadeo, who runs the hotel, and he’s looking forward to making our stay there something very special. Here is the entry for the Hotel Literario San Bieito –

San Bieito

Portuguese Tour update – 11 weeks to go!

Yikes – I checked on the calender and there’s only 11 weeks to go!

Give or take a few days.

This past week Catarina and Jennifer and I have been busy doing logistical stuff –  hotels, restaurants, the van etc. There’s been very bad weather in some parts of north Portugal and western Spain, and in one district the power went down for nearly a week, with no internet and very little communication.

Seems like it’s been a harsh winter – as harsh as our summer here in Australia.

The Rubiaes situation has now been sorted. The bloke who runs the Casa Olivierha just outside of Rubiaes has confirmed that we’ll not only be able to stay in his three rooms, but he can guarantee us similar standard accommodation in Casas nearby. We’ll also have a home cooked dinner at his home that night. And breakfast the next morning, before we head off.

Fernando speaks good English, he sounds like a great bloke over the phone, and I’m sure he’s going to be a wonderful host.

Finding the right accommodation in Santiago over Easter has been tricky. I’d booked us into the Carris Casa da Troya, as I stated in the last update, however I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this booking. My wife and I have stayed there in the past – it is definitely a beautiful hotel in a very good location, however I wanted to see if I could get something which would suit us better – something a little less “corporate.”

Those of you who have been to Santiago before know about the Hotel Costa Vella, voted the best boutique hotel in the city year after year. I now know the owner, Antonio, quite well – my wife and I stayed there on our last trip to Santiago – and I’ve been on his hammer for us to stay at his hotel. Unfortunately though he has a long standing group booking from Iceland, of all places, that’s taken out all his rooms.

However Antonio has been incredibly helpful in trying to find me just the right place. I got an email from him during the week recommending a new place that’s not yet up on the booking websites. Antonio said he thought it would be perfect for us.

It’s called the Hotel Literario San Bieito – and it’s only been open a couple of months. It’s three star (Antonio pointed out that his hotel, the Costa Vella, is only two stars – as is his other hotel, the Moure). The San Bieito is a new renovation of a very old building, and it looks simply beautiful. It’s in the old town, only five minutes walk from the Costa Vella, and Amadeo who runs the place will make us very welcome.

I’ve put the hotel details up in the itinerary, but here is it’s draft website and Facebook page –

On the van front, Catarina through her mother has been able to source the van I wanted – a Mercedes Benz Viano. It’s a luxury vehicle, which will sit 9 people.

So it’s been a busy week, on the phone talking to the hoteliers in Spain and Portugal about our requirements. But it’s fun!

By the way, we’ve still got a few spots available on the tour – so if you have any friends that might want to join you, put them onto either me – – or the travel agent Duncan Ford, at

Eleven weeks to go. Hmmm, even though it’s 39C outside right now, I might go for a walk soon!!

Signs VdC

April Portuguese Tour – Update

It doesn’t seem that long now before we’re heading off to Portugal to begin the tour!

I’ve started to do a bit of training – easing into it – doing between 40kms-50kms a week at the moment. I’m not doing it with a backpack yet – that’ll come in about a months time. I’ll lift the mileage gradually over the next couple of months, and also get back up onto Mt. Misery too, to get some training on hill climbs.

The Portuguese Camino is shorter than the Camino Frances; 240kms as against 800kms – and it’s also not nearly as hilly, thankfully.

I thought it would be a good time – now that we’re over the Christmas and New Year period – to give you an update on things, and also give you a day by day rundown of how the tour will unfold.

Over this Christmas period I’ve been locking in hotels, and Catarina – our local liaison lass – has been helping me, speaking with the hotels directly. Catarina is already doing a great job – she’s a law graduate, doing post graduate studies in Porto – and she’ll be a great asset to this tour –

Catarina –

Catarina pic

Catarina will drive the van, and forward scout to make sure everything is hunky dorey when we arrive at our destination each afternoon.

Jennifer and I are arriving a week early, flying into Santiago. We’ll pick up a car and drive south to Porto, stopping in at each of our hotels along the way, once again to double check that everything’s ok.

Then on Saturday 5th of April we’ll arriving in Porto. We’re staying at the Grande Hotel de Paris, which is well situated right in the heart of Porto. The rates are reasonable, and it’s a hotel which really gives you the flavour of old Portugal.  I’ve stayed in the hotel a couple of times last year, and I now know the best Portuguese chickens joints nearby!

Grande Hotel de Paris (Porto) website

We’ll be meeting up at the hotel with a number of people who have booked on the tour, then on Monday the 7th we’ll make our way to the port district of Porto, to Matosinhos, and our first tour hotel, the Porto Mar Hotel.

That night – the first night of the tour – we’ll go out to dinner and talk through what the next two weeks will hold in store for us – then the next morning we’ll head off up the coast to Vila de Conde, a beautiful little seaside town about 20kms to the north. Here is the path leading out of Matosinhos –

Walk to lighthouse copy

Chapel by sea

So here now is a short day-by-day itinerary, with details of the hotels. (not all the hotels are yet locked)
(I will put this itinerary in a separate section of this website as well)

DAY 1 – April 7th.
We’ll all meet up at the Porto Mar – I’ll run through the tour with you all as a group some time in the afternoon, and then we’ll go out for dinner. Nearby are the best seafood restaurants in Porto! If you like grilled sardines, this would have to be one of the best places in the world to eat them straight off the fishing boats!

Sardines 6

DAY 2 – April 8thPORTO to VILA DO CONDE – 22kms
We head off early and walk along the coast to the beautiful little town of Vila do Conde. The Hotel Brazao is in the centre of town, and very close to the town’s magnificent church. It’s a short walk down the hill to where we’ll have dinner that night, in a gorgeous local restaurant by the inlet, right beside the town’s huge ancient monastery. The restaurant specializes in grilled meats and seafoods.

VdC Monastery

Cookind ribs ext

DAY THREE – April 9th
Barcelos will be jumping because we get in on the Wednesday afternoon, and everyone will be preparing for the big markets the following day. The Barcelos Thursday markets are regarded as the biggest in Portugal, and people travel from hundreds of kms for market day. Barcelos has a beautiful and very old church, and gardens full of flowers near to the market square. Barcelos is also world famous for its chickens. France has Bresse, Portugal has Barcelos. We’ll have dinner in the best Portuguese grilled chicken restaurant in town – a place only the locals know!

bridge into barcelos

At bbq int

DAY FOUR – April 10th.
Today you have the choice of spending the morning at the Barcelos markets, in which case we’ll then transport you in the afternoon to the hotel at Bom Jesus, outside of Braga on a mountain looking down on the city. Or else you can walk the 24kms. Bom Jesus is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Portugal – a magnificent church on a mountain top. But what makes it so special is the pathway leading to the churcha series of switchbacks with the stone buildings signifying the various Stations of the Cross at each level. It is truly magnificent, and worth the deviation off the Camino.

Bom Jesus front

Bom Jesus church

HOTEL MERCEARIA DA VILA – http://www.merceariadavila.p
For those that want to pick up the Camino, we can bus you back to Barcelos, and from there to Ponte de Lima is about 31kms. It’s the longest stage of the tour. For the less pure, we can bus you to the nearest point on the Camino, further north from Barcelos, and you can walk from there. The walk will be worth it – Ponte de Lima is my favourite town on the Portuguese Way. It’s famous for its long Roman bridge leading out of town, however the whole town is simply beautiful – with ancient buildings and a long wooded promenade down by the river. The Hotel Mercearia da Vila is the nicest in town, however they only have five rooms – so they are finding us similar styled accommodation nearby. We’ll have breakfast there the next morning (before heading out over the Roman bridge) and dinner at a beautiful local place a few hundred yards away.

Ponte de Lima


PdL church

PdL square

DAY SIX – April 12th
A shorter walk today after the long haul yesterday. Rudiaes is a small remote village and there aren’t many options for three star accommodation. There’s a pilgrim albergue, but it’s dormitory styled accommodation. There’s a beautiful rural casa (B&B) nearby – Casa da Olivierinha, but it only has a few rooms. So at the moment I’ve booked us in there and in another rural casa a few kms further on – Casa da Capela. It means splitting the group up for the night, which I’m not happy about, however in Rubiaes there’s no alternative. And there are no towns further along the track. If it’s any consolation, this part of Portugal is famous for its Portuguese tarts, and other pastries!


DAY 7 – April 13th
Today we cross the border from Portugal into Spain! We walk through Valenca, on the Portuguese side, then cross a river into Tui, on the Spanish side of the border. Both ancient towns are heavily fortified from hundreds of years past conflicts – Tui has a magnificent Cathedral.

Walking away, Valenca

Crossing into Portugal over river

Tui Cathedral

Tui Church door

DAY EIGHT – April 14th
TUI to O PORRINO – 16kms
Another short walk today into O Porrino, and the Hotel Parque. We’re also now well and truly into Spain, and thus Spanish food!

Spanish mixed grill

Hotel Parque

DAY NINE – April 15th
The Hotel Isape has a terrific restaurant specializing in seafood.


Isape Rest

DAY 10 – April 16th
Again, a short day, only 11kms – but there’s plenty to do in Pontevedra if we get in early. It’s a large town, and our beautiful hotel is in the old quarter. You could easily spend hours strolling around, and again there is a beautiful church not far from the hotel – celebrating the Camino pilgrims.

Confession box

Pontevedra church

DAY 11 – April 17th
Caldas de Reis is an ancient Roman spa town, and we’re staying in one of the town’s oldest hotels, built around spa waters. You can rest your weary pilgrim body in one of the hotel’s spa baths!

CdR Spa hotel

DAY 12 – April 18th
We’re getting close to Santiago now – the last day before our walk into the city. We’re moving out of the rural landscapes into slightly more urban areas. You can feel the pull of the Holy city from here…

yellow arrow on stone wall copy

DAY 13 – April 19th
Today we walk into Santiago. It’s Easter Saturday, nearing the end of the week of Semana Santa celebrations, and no doubt the city will be full of activity. Today we can get our Compostelas from the Pilgrim’s office – the official document that shows that we’ve walked the Portuguese Camino. You’ll probably want to visit the Cathedral too.

SdC Cathedral int

DAY 14 – April 20th
Our 2nd day in Santiago, Easter Sunday. There will be a large mass in the Cathedral, and there will be celebrations and processions and festivities all day. It should be an amazing day to be in Santiago. Tonight we’ll have a farewell dinner – because tomorrow we’ll all head our separate ways.

So this is the itinerary – it should be an incredible tour.

I’ll do regular updates now, and I’m available for any questions – best email me on:

By the way, we’re still short a few people, so if you know of anyone who wants to join us, please get them to contact me on the email above, or the organizing travel agent Duncan Ford, at

Santiago cathedral thru door

Portuguese Tour Details

Tour Main Facts:

• Cost: US$3950 (twin share)
• Fully guided Tour
• 14 nights
• Depart Porto, Portugal April 7th
• Arrive Santiago, Spain April 19th – extra night in Santiago.
• *** Hotel accommodation
• Breakfasts & dinners included
• Side trip to Bom Jesus in Braga
• Arrive in Santiago for Semana Santa (Easter)
• Daily photographic tutorials
• Dedicated van for transport of pack and pilgrim, if needed!
• Local liaison & translator
• Celebratory dinner in Santiago on Easter Sunday, April 20th.
• Pilgrim’s welcome pack; which includes Guidebook & maps, Credential, and Shell


bill portugual  sm

Bill Bennett

Bill is an internationally renowned film director and screenwriter. In May 2013 he walked the Camino de Santiago – and started a blog that attracted thousands of followers from around the world. He then wrote a book on the Camino – The Way, My Way – and is currently working on a film on intuition called PGS – which stands for Personal Guidance System. He’s also a professional photographer, and will hold daily tutorials.

Jennifer Cluff sm

Jennifer Cluff

Bill’s partner, Jennifer has been studying esoteric literature for more than twenty five years.

Cost includes –

Hotel accommodation double room occupancy. (three star, where possible)
Single room occupancy supplementary charge, US$400
Breakfast & dinner
Travel Insurance
Dedicated Private Van & luggage transport
Drinks and Snacks daily from van
Local liaison / translator
Pilgrim Welcome Pack – including guidebook/maps, shell, credential
Celebratory last night dinner in Santiago.
Daily photographic tutorial by Bill Bennett (accredited member of Australian Institute of Professional Photographers)
Each pilgrim will receive a personal photographic record of their trip by Bill Bennett

The van will be on hand at all times to take pilgrims who want to transport their backpacks ahead. Or who don’t wish to walk.

Itinerary in kms – 

Day 1 – Meet in Porto, dinner
Day 2 – Porto to Vila do Conde (22kms)
Day 3 – Vila do Conde to Barcelos (17kms)
Day 4 – Barcelos to Bom Jesus (24kms)
Day 5 – Bom Jesus to Ponte do Lima (31kms)
Day 6 – Ponte do Lima to Rubias (18kms)
Day 7 – Rubias to Tui (20kms)
Day 8 – Tui to O Porrino (16kms)
Day 9 – O Porrino to Arcade (22kms)
Day 10 – Arcade to Pontevedra (11kms)
Day 11 – Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (24kms)
Day 12 – Caldas de Reis to Padron (18kms)
Day 13 – Padron to Santiago de Compostela (24kms)
Day 14 – Santiago de Compostela

Tour Operator –
Flight Biz / Duncan Ford

Duncan Ford has been a Licensed Travel Agent for over twenty years. His company Flight Biz has been organizing spiritual tours for the past six years, and has sent over a thousand people to Brazil to visit John of God. He’s also been organizing art tours to Italy for the past eleven years. (Licensed Travel Agent # 2TA5267)

Big mural Bom Jesus front#5 Museum grounds copyFort and yellow arrow