The Road to Santiago

An opportunity to partake in one of the ‘great pilgrimage walks of the world’.  Our trek across the north of Spain commences in the Pyrenees Mountain town of Saint Jean Pied a Port and ends in the City of Santiago in the north-west of Spain.  This is a walking tour where each day you, like a pilgrim, travel along the road to Santiago. However the alburgues/hostels frequented by pilgrims are on this trip replaced by luxury hotel accommodation and our journeys detour to avail of the many masterpieces or architecture along the way.  A visit to some of the world-renowned vineyards of the north of Spain also forms part of this unique tour.

 

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The tomb of St. James in Santiago remained hidden until its discovery by the hermit Pelayo in the first half of the ninth century when a glowing light or star revealed the apostle’s resting place.  The name Compostela is thought to originate from ‘compostium’ – a burial ground or ‘campus stellae’ – starry field.  The legend of St. James was born and over the centuries millions of pilgrims have made their way to the wonderful city of Santiago to pay homage to James, the patron Saint of Spain. The motives for undertaking the pilgrimage were varied.  Some went to pray at the shrine, others seeking a miracle while for some the journey was a penance or had been prescribed as a specific punishment.  Today religious motifs are less evident but for many there remains that spiritual factor. Our walk involves some 85 miles of the 500 miles route across the north of Spain over a period of 10 days incorporating all the very best of the landscape, architecture and culture.  Each day involves a 10-12mile walk over various terrains.  As our walk traces the pilgrimage each night we stay at a different location adding to the sense of participating in a movement across the country.  Our accommodation is luxury hotels and each day our luggage is transferred to the next hotel allowing us to walk in comfort.  A vehicle makes the journey each day provided for those that wish to retire early.  To participate in this journey you must be able to walk for a number of hours each day and have a reasonable level of fitness.  The 2016 walk is led by archaeologist Martin Fitzpatrick who has completed the walk on a number of occasions and from different locations.  Martin has previously written about the pilgrimage route and its links to Ireland.

A bus will transfer any participants wishing to avail of the service at 4pm from Biarritz airport (Day 1) and those travelling to Santiago airport (Day 12).
All travel by road with 9-seater vehicles, All hotel accommodation in paradors where available or similar quality accommodation (Single supplement 400).
All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 8 dinners, all waiter tips, entrance fees, the services of both the guide and an assistant.
Group size: 8 persons total 


Day 1: Bus will meet participants at Biaritz airport (if required) at 5pm and transfer to Saint- Jean-Pied-De- Port in French Pyrenees for our overnight stay. A 7pm meet and greet will be followed by dinner and preparation for our walk through Spain. (Dinner and overnight)

Day 2:  Saint- Jean- Pied-De-Port to Roncesvalles involves a 25km (15.5 miles) trek through the Pyrenees. ‘When the going gets tough then the tough gets going’ and today we will get going. The trek today takes us across the border between France and Spain and sets us along the way on this famous pilgrim path to Santiago. We walk through magnificent upland pastures before descending through an enchanting beech forest to the village of Roncesvalles. Overnight in Hotel Roncesvalles. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner & overnight)

Day 3:  Today we take a 12km (7.5 miles) trek from Roncesvalles to the village of Viscaret. Todays walk allows us to unwind from the efforts of yesterday and the going is much easier, with relatively level countryside intersected by narrow streams and lots of farmland. We stop at Viscarret for lunch before taking our bus to the Hotel in Haro. This is the centre of the famous Rioja wine region and we take the opportunity to take a tour of one of the local bodegas. Overnight in the converted convent that is now a luxury hotel (Breakfast, lunch and overnight).

Day 4:  Our trek today takes us from the Najera to St Domingo de la Calzada. Todays route of 21km (13 miles) is mostly along dirt tracks with wheat fields and wild flowers framing the horizon. Our trek starts from the 11th century monastery of Santa Maria la Real and finishes at the monastery of Santa Domingo de la Calzada. The latter is an important stopping point along the road to Santiago and has an interesting history involving chickens. Overnight at Parador Saint Domingo de la Calzada (Breakfast, lunch, dinner & overnight.).

Day 5: From Villafranca Montes de Oca we walk along country paths and roads for a distance of 12km (7.5 miles) to San Juan De Ortega. The first few kilometers are uphill but after that there is a steep descent to the village of San Juan from where our bus will take us to the hotel in Burgos where we will spend the next two night. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight)
Day 6:  We spend today in Burgos- a city in the region of Castille-Leon that is dominated by the Gothic Cathedral. This morning we take a guided tour of the famous cathedral that ranks as one of the most important in Spain and houses, among others, the tomb of the 11th century military commander El Cid. The remainder of the day is free to relax, return to bed or delight in the atmosphere of this enchanting city. (Breakfast and overnight.)

Day 7:  Back on ‘The Way’ we walk today from the village of Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino covering a distance of 19.6km (12 miles). The sandy paths wind through the vast meseta bringing us in contact with extraordinary monuments that highlight the significance of this route since early Roman times. This stark, wonderful countryside affords the opportunity to consider the adventures of pilgrims that have gone before you. Our accommodation tonight is in the medieval old city of Leon where we are staying in the restored 16th century monastery of San Marcos known as the Parador de Leon. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & overnight)

Day 8:  A 16km (10 miles) walk from Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga takes us out of the vast open space of the meseta and into more undulating countryside as we make our way towards the province of Galacia. Astorga, our overnight destination, is famous for its Roman ruins and gothic architecture. (Breakfast, Lunch & overnight)

Day 9: Today we walk for 24km (15 miles) between the town of Ponferrada and the village of Villa Franc del Bierzo. The route is through vineyards and easy tracks bringing us to the wonderful rural village of Villafranc del Bierzo famous for its Romanesque church and Medieval Castle. Overnight in the Prador de Villafran del Bierzo.(Breakfast, lunch, dinner & overnight)

Day 10: This morning we have a 14km (8.5 miles) trek from the village of Melide to Arzua. This route takes us through eucalyptus forests and oak woodlands through green fields and villages of stone. We are now truly in Galacia. After lunch our bus drops us at the Monte de Gozo which is a small hill overlooking the city of Santiago. From here we walk for a distance of 5km through the urban sprawl to the cathedral of Santiago. Our goal is achieved and we have arrived at the famous cathedral of Santiago…. Tonight we can celebrate in our five star hotel across from the cathedral – the famous Hostal Reis Catolicas
(Breakfast, lunch, Dinner & overnight)

Day 11: After a tour of the old city of Santiago participants are free to attend the pilgrim mass at the Cathedral or simply watch other pilgrims arrive at the famous square and celebrate their journey and achiebvement. An easy day soaking in the atmosphere of Santiago is followed by our final dinner together where we can share our experiences and say our farewells. Overnight in the five star Parador- Hostal Reis Catolica. (Breakfast, Dinner & overnight.).

Day 12: Following breakfast at our hotel and farewells to Santiago de Compestella, a bus will return to Biarritz for travels wishing to avail of the service.