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 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!
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 –
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.
PORTO / MATOSINHOS
HOTEL PORTO MAR – http://www.hotelportomar.net/index.php?q=en/node/29
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!
DAY 2 – April 8thPORTO to VILA DO CONDE – 22kms
HOTEL BRAZAO –
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.
DAY THREE – April 9th
VILA DO CONDE to BARCELOS – 18kmsHOTEL DO TERCO – http://www.hoteldoterco.com/index_en.html
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!
DAY FOUR – April 10th.
BARCELOS to BOM JESUS (BRAGA) – 24kms
HOTEL DO ELEVADOR & HOTEL DO LAGO – http://www.hoteisbomjesus.pt
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 church – a 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.
DAY FIVE – APRIL 11TH
BOM JESUS (BARCELOS) to PONTE DE LIMA – 31kms
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.
DAY SIX – April 12th
PONTE DE LIMA to RUBIAES – 18kms
CASA DA OLIVIERINHA & CASA DA CAPELA – http://www.casadaoliveirinha.com/en/ & http://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/casa-da-capela.html
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
RUBIAS to TUI
HOTEL COLON TUI – http://www.hotelcolontuy.com/en/inicio#
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.
DAY EIGHT – April 14th
TUI to O PORRINO – 16kms
HOTEL PARQUE – http://www.hotelparqueporrino.com
Another short walk today into O Porrino, and the Hotel Parque. We’re also now well and truly into Spain, and thus Spanish food!
DAY NINE – April 15th
O’PORRINO to ARCADE – 22kms
HOTEL ISAPE – http://www.hotel-isape.com
The Hotel Isape has a terrific restaurant specializing in seafood.
DAY 10 – April 16th
ARCADE TO PONTEVEDRA – 11kms
HOTEL RIAS BAJAS – http://www.hotelriasbajas.com
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.
DAY 11 – April 17th
PONTEVEDRA to CALDAS DE REIS – 24kms
HOTEL BALNERIO ACUNA – http://www.balnearioacuna.com
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!
DAY 12 – April 18th
CALDAS DE REIS to PADRON – 18kms
HOTEL SCALA – http://www.hscala.com/index_en.php
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…
DAY 13 – April 19th
PADRON to SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA – 24kms
HOTEL CARRIS CASA DE TROYA – http://santiagohotelcasadatroya.com
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.
DAY 14 – April 20th
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
HOTEL CARRIS CASA DE TROYA – http://santiagohotelcasadatroya.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com